The Coast Guard is a part of our family's heritage. Grandpa Jack went to the Coast Guard Academy and served for four years (including a sweet command of a tropical island) and Great Uncle Tony also attended the Academy and then served until retirement. For us, that means we get great rates on insurance and we have great reverence for the grave of the only Medal of Honor winner from the USCG, Douglas A. Munro, in Cle Elum.
Our downstream neighbors are both Coasties, which has meant there are long periods of time when they aren't around. After their last deployment we were invited to sail on the USCGC Melon, a "High Endurance Cutter," in the Seafair Parade of Ships.
The ship (it's not a boat because ships have boats, but boats don't have ships) is 378 feet long with a crew of 167. We got to tour most of it and became familiar enough that we could get from the stern to the bow without too much trouble. I could usually get to the galley, too, and learned that since it's the operating table as well as the dinner table you took your hat off as a sign of respect.
We sailed around Puget Sound from the Coast Guard base in Elliot Bay including a pass by the Seattle waterfront and flyovers by Sea Knights, Ospreys, and Hueys. The crew was standing at attention at the rail and it was an impressive sight.
After a hearty (and I mean hearty) BBQ lunch we finished the day at the dock near Queen Anne.
What struck me most was that the crew was a family living in close quarters for three months at a time. I can't imagine what it would be like to do that, but I'm glad they're willing to do it in service to our country. It's also given me renewed respect for the work Grandpa Jack and Great Uncle Tony did during their time in the Coast Guard. Now I can kind of understand why they have such close ties to the men they served with 50 years ago.