It Takes a Special Breed of Crazy

I’ve always been amazed by what the Coast Guard is willing to put themselves in. A hurricane? Let’s get some boats and helicopters out, because there are fools out there who need some rescuing. Swimming in storm surge? No problem.

And then you have this. Mother nature is a pretty relentless enemy, and no amount of military technology can overcome her. If it is rough men who stand ready to do violence on our behalf that let us sleep at night, it’s crazy and fearless men who stand by to rescue on our behalf that allow us to behave recklessly without consequence. God bless them.

15 thoughts on “It Takes a Special Breed of Crazy”

  1. Got to respect an organization that doesn’t need to actively recruit. The Coast Guard is the only uniformed military branch that doesn’t run ads or the like to attract recruits. To quote a recruiter I spoke to: “If you want to be a part of the Coast Guard, you’ll seek us out.”. It apparently works.


    I’ve still got a lot of friends and acquaintances from my brief stint in the U.S. Coast Guard. Few realize what they juggle and with so limited resources.

    Air Survivalmen are of the charts. These guys are jumping into stormy oceans. And in non-chat roles I’d see then up against most any of the other special forces (SEALS, Rangers, etc). It takes a rare breed of courage to go face to face with Mother Nature when she’s pissed.

    The boarding teams are no joke. Facing drug cartels who can have greater armament. The year I was in heard a fun recollection by an officer about how the SEALS were doing boarding practices. His ship caught wind of the rumor. Theiie boarding team chief heightened security watch. And when they were targeted the Coast Guard boarding team had the whole SEAL raid team down and cuffed. Granted, SEALS don’t fare we’ll when they lose the element of surprise. But the SEALS were shocked at how quickly the Coasties had them cuffed and secured. And had the Coasties showing them their techniques.

  3. They ought to leave these idiots out there to die if they shouldn’t be out there in the first place.

  4. The Coast Guard has changed incredibly since my days in the 70’s. Hurricane Katrina moved it more to a helicopter service. The Coast Guard didn’t even have rescue swimmers until the mid to late 1980’s. Now it is the best in the world.
    My day it was all about boats. Enlisted men were trained and given boats(less than 65′) Boat Coxswains were trained to handle Search and Rescue, Port Security and other law enforcement duties. Some Coxswains got to go to the Cape Disappointment facility and train to be a rough water Surfmen. It was a great school with great trainers. When you graduated that school you felt you could do almost anything. Back then the helicopters were there to spot and support the boats.(Try a refueling in 20 foot seas) Now the boats support the copters. But the volunteers are all the same, they join to save lives. (Yes, even the stupid ones) That is what they are trained to do. We had to go out, we did not have to come back.

    Semper Paratus

    1. I knew a coastie who jumped out of helocopters around 1960 and later was in Vietnam so early that if he’d died, his name wouldn’t be on the wall.

      They might not have been called rescue swimmers, but they had them.

  5. I went on the HMS Bounty this summer .They were heading for their winter grounds last week and they do sail all over the coast for tours. The only way to sail for a 180 foot 3 mast ship is outside the bank on Cape Hatteras. Besides the safest place for large ships are out in the ocean in a hurricane. The Navy always set sail, because if a storm surge like the one that hit NJ the ship get thrown up on land and gets destroyed.

    The reason the Cape is called the graveyard are the shoals so far out in the ocean. The ship sank and the mast was still visible which indicates they hit a shoal 90 miles off coast.

    The captain was lost and the survivors were properly prepared for cold water lifeboats.

    The Coast Guard was set up mainly to help in bad storms just for this reason.

    So the crew and the HMS Bounty had every reason to be out just they were not far enough out to sail safely.

    1. It’s a small world. Claudene Christian, the young lady who died on the Bounty, was in my graduating class of 380-ish here in Anchorage. She accomplished a lot in her too short life and lived big for such a tiny person.

    2. Is it still a custom for the Captain to go down with the ship?
      Or was it just bad luck that she drowned?

      1. The Captain still hasn’t been found as far as I know. According to the reports I saw, when the Coasties got to Claudene she was “unresponsive in the water.” So she was either injured or just drowned in the rough seas (or both).

        I’ve been caught in the surf zone during night fins, close enough to shore to touch bottom, and taken in enough water to scare the piss out of me. I can only imagine being in just a survival suit in that kind of sea state.

  6. Coasties are totally hardcore – and they occasionally get deployed to combat, too.

  7. I can remember in junior high being really enamored of joining the Coast Guard — perhaps because military service was so contrary to the prevailing sentiment, but Coast Guard would be not only contrary, but perpendicular to everything else.

    1. Per the Volokh Conspiracy, I think the word is “orthagonal.” =)

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