Hello everyone, thank you for hearing me. I'm an old MK2 who served at the Yard and aboard the Rush and the Sherman. In 1990 I was the small boat engineer on an MSB launched from Sherman to rescue someone who had jumped from one of the highest aspects of the Coronado Bridge. The victim probably never even noticed our cutter coming in for REFTRA as they jumped and impacted about a hundred and fifty yards off the stern. I was one of five that recovered her. She was my first. I will not discuss the specific details of the event except to say that only during my own worst moments did I remember them. The worst parts. Never degraded from years of acknowledgement. As fresh and confusing as the moment they happened. Emotions associated with these details that are so far outside of the boundaries of normal experience that you lack the language to articulate them. You just realize in horror that they have been in your mind silently influencing and multiplying every struggle.
In my civilian life I have had to endure many tortuous jobs including Crime Scene Cleanup. I seemed to get all of the violent suicides. It is grisly work done with the hands. On my last job I made the same mistake that I believe I made on that very first one. I accidentally emotionally bonded with the victim. It is imperative and I stress imperative that you NEVER EVER do this. A terminally ill female who had taken her own life. Her last act was one of kindness towards whoever had to deal with the cleanup. Me. She had wrapped her head in a sleeping bag before pulling the trigger. I scooped her brains into a bag surrounded by thousands upon thousands of pieces of clipped poetry taped to the walls.
I am finally getting some help through the VA but if I can head anyone off at the pass from going through the same thing, please heed my warning. You don't choose what you remember when things get so stressful that emotions collide to form exotic and poisonous associations. You do not know that you have experienced these things until they manifest years later. I had a woman with incredibly beautiful eyes pulled wide open from the failed CPR attempt jostle in the boat and land in such an orientation that she had straight and direct eye contact with me for around seven minutes. I was aft of the doghouse facing forward and holding her feet. The rest of the crew members were facing forward and never noticed. This woman's eyes were akin to the most haunting eyes in the world on the Nat Geo cover and I can tell you that I had things going through my mind that I still can't process from 25 years ago. I will stop right there because it does actually get much, much worse. I had forgotten these details before we got back to the Sherman from the swap to the 41 footer. Some of the older guys asked if we needed to talk about it but by then I was fine. We ever never offered help. We cried ourselves to sleep tanked behind the curtains of our racks.
I miss the Guard. I really do. I made Second in 3 years. I was motivated. I was even awarded that Operation Coast Guard Achievement Medal thingy they can only give to the plebes for not getting vaporized on that same MSB putting out an ocean going tug boat fire in Washington. I got out for my own reasons but was never able to get back in to the only meritocracy that I had ever known. I probably would have been a LCDR by now.
Regardless of me, I love all of you. In whatever capacity you are serving our Coast Guard. Still less members than the NY Police department staff. I know it doesn't feel like it when you are dealing with the drudgery of the mundane but you are elite and I am so proud of how newer hands have guided it into unknown waters. Thank you for your service and I salute you.