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Old 02-04-2015, 11:46   #1
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Coast Guard

Any Coasites out there? My 19 yr old Son goes to see the Recruiter on Tues, need a little advice on MOS's etc. What CG life is really like, where a Junior enlisted would live etc. Which if any MOS's to avoid, which are considered to be the one you want.
He is extremely comfortable in the water, way more than most, he is certified as a Full cave diver etc. But other wise just a High School grad without any special skills beyond the diving thing and being comfortable on boats etc.
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Old 02-04-2015, 12:10   #2
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Re: Coast Guard

I'm a Coast Guard vet (1968-71) and now in the CG Auxiliary, helping the local CG station with training and morale (morale = food). CG boot camp was physically and mentally tough. They said only Marine boot camp was tougher. Your son will get yelled at and challenged. He'll be put into the best physical shape and mental condition he'll ever be in. And he'll be able to say, for the rest of his life, "I graduated from Cape May; I can do anything." As far as specialties go, and if he's undecided at this point, I'd recommend that he just get qualified at basic duties and watch what other rates do for a few months. Plenty of time to choose whether to stay and to pick a career path, or leave with a big plus mark on his resume, ready to take on his next challenge.
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Old 02-04-2015, 12:24   #3
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Re: Coast Guard

'72 - '76. Long time ago, much has changed.

I was very fortunate to go to AT school, Aviation Electronics Technician, and doubly fortunate to hit things just right and make E-6 in my short enlistment.

As an AT I went to 6 months of intense training in Elizabeth City, NC. Wash outs, a third of the class, were sent to remote LORAN stations for a year. Think French Frigte Shoals. Lots of pressure.

Getting out I was stationed at Air Base Elizabeth City. repaired electronics equipment and trouble shot problems on the aircraft. I also qualified as an Aircrewman, and as Radio Operator for HU-16 (Grumman Abatross) and HC-130 aircraft. Some of these exact same HC-130's are still active! We also had some HH-52 aircraft at our base, which I worked on but did not fly.

At smaller bases the choppers would frequently go out with one pilot and a Tech. Many of our techs got a lot of stick time, at least one got his pilots license.

No clue of how it works now. It was a great experience for me. Really good tech education that helps me to this day. Gave me self confidence and experience that I sorely lacked. Best of luck.
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Old 02-04-2015, 13:38   #4
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Re: Coast Guard

64,
Make sure he has good sea legs. A young man that crewed with us occasionally in the 80's joined the CG. He was a quick study, physically strong, self confident and had good sea legs. He sailed with us in some very rough conditions and never got seasick. He enjoyed everything about sailing and as an added bonus was a History buff. His first assignment after boot camp was the fisheries patrol in Alaska during the Winter. His first tour was offshore for a month in 20-30 foot seas. He wrote us that he had never been so sick in his life and most of the time was miserable. We lost touch with him after a year and I hope he adjusted. So, make sure your son has good sea legs. His first duty may not be the Florida Intercoastal. Good luck and good sailing. R
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Old 02-04-2015, 19:40   #5
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Re: Coast Guard

Thanks guys, I did not expect CG Basic to be tough, didn't think that.
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Old 02-04-2015, 20:47   #6
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Re: Coast Guard

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Thanks guys, I did not expect CG Basic to be tough, didn't think that.
Its tough because your son will be trained to save lives at the risk of his own, no matter what the conditions at sea. You can't make that easy. YouTube has a number of videos on CG boot camp. Your son should watch several of them and then decide. If he decides to go, pick a starting date in the spring or fall. There is a lot of outdoor activity--marching, PT, firing range, boats, etc., and the winter can be bitter cold, while summer can be beastly hot. I went through in July-August and it was pretty brutal on the hot days. Can't imagine how winter must be. I thought I was in pretty good shape going in. NOT! I went in at 137 lbs, came out at 127. But I never felt physically better in my life, and the dividends are life-long.
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Old 02-04-2015, 21:18   #7
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Re: Coast Guard

I don't have "first hand experience" as I was never in the Armed Forces. But I did do a one year (Aug 07-Aug08) contract (firefighter) in Iraq during the last Gulf War. During my time there I talked to quite a few guys in the Army that came to the Army from the other services. One guy in particular was Marine that got out and then came back to the Army for the war. He noted that he did not have to go back to basic training unless he was trying to move to the Coast Guard. The reason being that basic training in the Coast Guard was generally way different and WAY HARDER than the other services' basic training.
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Old 03-04-2015, 14:59   #8
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Re: Coast Guard

Back when I want through boot camp, (Alameda/Oakland Estuary) it wasn't as much Marine Corps "break their spirit-re-mold them into our puppets" as it was self reliance. -and blisters from 5am rowing practice. Lots of schoolroom study of everything from marlinspike seamanship to how to secure a buoy to the deck of a tender. And of course, physical training and a week of Navy fire fighting at Treasure Island.
My arduous duty was as an ET at New Orleans, no barracks, live in an apartment and try not to get too drunk on Bourbon Street.
Grab an oil company work boat or passing shrimper and fix a radio or radar somewhere down river.
Next was the VOA transmitter ship Courier in Rhodes Greece. At that point I figured I'd used up all my good luck, so I quit after 4 years. Wish I hadn't.
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Old 04-04-2015, 06:44   #9
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Re: Coast Guard

A64, I'm ex CCG (left 2011.), so my experiences are a little different, but I worked a bit with the yanks and have a general feel of the lay of the land, I can't speak to US basic training.

I would encourage somebody just getting into it to focus their training on transferable skills since CG life is a young man's game (I'm 38 and I was more than done with the life and I was a Commanding Officer).

Their are a lot of career opportunities in merchant sailing after you're done with the CG.

The most opportunities are in the marine engineering and deisel mechanics fields. Good opportunities for cooks too.

Shore jobs for ex coasties are plentiful including again Marine Engineers (power generating stations) and deisel mechanics as well as administrators and safety and compliance auditors (the last being my specialty).

The least opportunities are probably in the most attractive areas for young guys- deck, whether crew or officers.

If I was to do it again, hands down it would be in one of the marine engineering fields, after 10 years or so in the CG, it should be conceivable to be head hunted right into a $150 000/year job.

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Old 04-04-2015, 12:14   #10
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Re: Coast Guard

If I had a son or nephew (or daughter or niece) who was interested in joining the Navy or Coast Guard (as enlisted), I would buy them the following in advance of "signing up" and have them read it cover to cover in two weeks or less. Then, drill them on ranks (recognition) etc. I would do this prior to sending them off to the recruiter or boot camp.

"Semper Paratus"

The Coast Guardsman's Manual
http://www.amazon.com/Coast-Guardsma.../dp/1557504687

or

US Navy "Blue Jackets Manual"
http://www.amazon.com/The-Bluejacket.../dp/1591141532
_______________

Also, there is likely a USCG station near your boat or a USCG Auxiliary flotilla (the smallest organizational group) in your city. There could be local active or vets there who would be happy to talk to a prospect recruit.

The USCG Auxiliary has about 30,000 volunteer members. United States Coast Guard Auxiliary - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Finally, the USCG has an academy (for officer training, like Annapolis, but smaller) that looks for outstanding high school students. It is in New London Connecticut and is a very nice school/campus AND the 1,000 cadets get some time sailing on the USCG Eagle. They have bachelors degrees in engineering, marine sciences, and other fields. Entry is very competitive (a smaller number enter each year due to the smaller service). But, UNLIKE the other military academies, the USCG Academy does NOT require congressional nomination. Good grades, excellent health, and a good record in High School are essential.

United States Coast Guard Academy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The USCG Academy website:
United States Coast Guard Academy
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Old 04-04-2015, 12:29   #11
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Re: Coast Guard

Growing up on the west coast of Canada, I was fortunate/unfortunate enough to miss out on military service but went to work on the water on towboats and commercial fishing vessels at 15 yo. Spent many years at sea and my experience with coasties has been nothing but first class! They are among the finest young men and women I have ever encountered any where. The standards maintained within their service branch are very high and the maturity they demonstrate at a remarkably young age is impressive. They are committed to pulling folks fat out of the fire at sea constantly and do so with care and usually a bit of humor. CG Service is one of the most valuable checks on any young persons resume, either for work at sea or shoreside. Can't go wrong in my opinion...
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Old 04-04-2015, 14:04   #12
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Re: Coast Guard

Have him visit a USCG small boat station, a Sector office and an Air Station.Have him talk to a variety of junior enlisted and at least a couple senior petty officers and maybe a Chief Petty Officer or two.

People like me that have been out for more than 10 years have little in common with the new Guard in terms of quality of life and what was and now is important. The services changed quite a bit from the 80-90s. Sure many of the jobs remain similar but there’s been a change in the air. That’s why I suggest talking to active duty guys across a big swath of jobs and experiences.

That will open his eyes to the variety of things he may be subjected to, places to go and jobs he might be assigned.

A lot of people think the USCG is all excitement and romance of the sea. Nothing can be further from the truth.

Some kids out of boot camp spend the better part of 3 years chipping paint and washing dishes on Polar Ice Breakers.Some wind up in offices so far from the water, they might as well take up mountaineering. On the other hand, some get opportunities few can only imagine. One thing that is for sure….joining as an enlisted person, straight out of high school…many dues have to be paid.

In some ways I wouldn’t trade my 23 years in for anything in the world…but it didn’t come free either…there’s always the flip side.

USCG 1977-1999 1 year of Civil Engineering, 22 yrs Aviation
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Old 04-04-2015, 15:48   #13
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Re: Coast Guard

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
Any Coasites out there? My 19 yr old Son goes to see the Recruiter on Tues, need a little advice on MOS's etc. What CG life is really like, where a Junior enlisted would live etc. Which if any MOS's to avoid, which are considered to be the one you want.
He is extremely comfortable in the water, way more than most, he is certified as a Full cave diver etc. But other wise just a High School grad without any special skills beyond the diving thing and being comfortable on boats etc.

Several of my kids have served/are serving in the USCG. As others have mentioned, CG enlisted boot and Academy are the toughest of all.
The Coast Guard covers a much broader range of (interesting) assignments/missions than the other branches (and sometimes they detach with them, EG: some ratings to Navy SEALS, etc., no AF fighter jocks though). The old CG had some real 'backwaters', not so much anymore.

Ratings (MOS): Can't beat the Airedale's for all around fun (see my grandkids in the avatar, next to the Dolphin), ET's, OS's, and MK's most training and transferable skills, BM's (at higher rates, PO1, CPO's) in small boats can actually command a sizable boat (up to ~47 and 87'ers, IIRC).
And there is a new DV, Diver rating...
Look the CG ratings available over here (and on the USCG site):
List of United States Coast Guard ratings - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dig into the USCG website itself, at the unit level you can get a feel for operations, etc., and read some of the Cruise/Unit Logs published therein for an inside look.
Might want to watch: The Guardian (2006 film) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia , and a Canadian TV series: The Guard (TV series) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia , which is plot-wise lacking, but has lots of scenes on 47' MLB's (drool, would I like one of those, yeehaa!).

Don't believe half what a recruiter says, and get it in writing. Make sure he stresses his considerable water skills at the interview (and if he's a pilot too), and good HS grades (at least some college a big help too). CG grade/test cutoff's are actually higher than the other branches too (more selective than even the Navy and AF).

First assignment out of Cape May will likely be A school and/or 'seatime' aboard a cutter or small boat station (striker choice can be postponed a while).
At least one tour of 'seatime' is generally expected from most. A year or two+ w/an afloat billet. But cutter duty is on a periodic 'cruise' basis, ashore/at dock work in between; smaller boats will be full time shifts aboard.
Junior (single) enlisted may get barracks-like housing at smaller stations, single and married apt-style at larger ones, or 'on-the-economy' off base housing. BAH subsidizes the cost of housing on or off (most all base housing has been "privatized"), and pretty well covers living costs, but the pay isn't that great until one moves up in grade.
A number of units are co-located with/on other service branch bases, like a NS or NAS, in addition to stand-alone CG stations/units.

A 'dreamsheet' for desired location and assignments will be filled out leaving boot, and periodically thereafter (regular rotations); but it gets down to 'the needs of the business' in the end.
Choose a desired (heheh) location carefully, AK and northern climes aren't for everybody; HI, etc., can be a bit expensive for young enlisted; probably want to avoid big cities. Mine have had a little 'legacy' pull and liked most places so far...

The CG is an excellent career choice, it is "up or out" long term, so ambition is a requisite.

Good luck, Semper Paratus.



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Old 04-04-2015, 17:22   #14
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Re: Coast Guard

If the recruiter is any good, they''' give your son contacts numbers (phone, email, etc.) where he can ask follow-up questions. Or, they'll try to railroad him into signing blindly on the spot. (I don't know if CG recruiters get paid "per head" but that has happened in the regular services.)


The MOS probably will affect the career path and the top level he can rise to. Then there's pay, I've often heard complaints that pay grades won't cover the basic HOUSING costs in many areas. If he wants to fly helos, captain a cutter, etc. those are all going to be special career paths probably from the get-go. If he wants a career as a helo or ship mechanic...that's easier.


I'd guess the USCG or Wiki MUST have a complete listing of the MOSes and details of them online, I've seen this for other services.


And most recruiters, in most services, will promise anything--but have no authority to deliver on those promises. Maybe he gets a good one, but anything he can't get documented or guaranteed in writing? He needs to check on.


If he's a good candidate, they never get enough of those, so if there's any pressure to "sign right here right now today and we'll throw in...." just say he can't sign today, he's still got an appointment with the Navy recruiter tomorrow.(G)
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Old 04-04-2015, 17:48   #15
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Re: Coast Guard

In some places, there's more than a 2 year wait to get on the recruiters list...let alone get signed.

There are usually MORE than enough "excellent" candidates....sometimes going to a different area will shorten that wait.

No matter what rate he chooses...the highest he can get is the same...Master Chief Petty Officer...unless he switches and goes Warrant or Commissioned Officer. Going office corps is necessary to do certain job like being a pilot or captain of the more major ships. That requires going to the Academy or college and Officer Candidate School.
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