I was attending a healthcare sales conference in California overlooking the San Diego Bay, when I witnessed three High Endurance Coast Guard Cutters plowing through the Pacific. The sight of those ships pushing ahead into uncharted waters, was simply mesmerizing. It was at that exact moment that I decided join the United States Coast Guard (true story).
I picked up the hotel phone and called the Philadelphia recruiting office and asked to "sign me up." After I returned home, I spent the next few weeks at MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Service) and completing the ASVAB (the military equivalent to the SAT). Once I was deemed fit for duty, I was sworn in and took an oath to commit to the United States Coast Guard Reserves for the next eight years.
I received my orders to report to boot camp at the United States Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, New Jersey. Now at this point, I had not told anyone that I joined the military. The next few days were spent spilling the beans to my family and friends (all of whom were extremely supportive, yet a tad surprised) then I headed off to Jersey to become a Coastie.
Talk about being "wet behind the ears!" I didn't know the first thing about military life, but adapted quickly. We conducted our training in the water and on the land. I learned to march in formation, military history, and weapons training. By the time we graduated, I knew I had became part of something unique and remarkable. I became a Petty Officer in the United States Coast Guard.
What I found most interesting about boot camp was not all of the yelling from our drill instructors, but the bond formed by the members of my company ... ROMEO COMPANY. It was a fantastic display of unity and friendship.
Following boot camp, I spent many days, weeks, and months serving alongside some extremely talented members of our Armed Forces. I started my career in Public Affairs and ended up running Small Boats on both the 25-foot Response Boat - Small (RBS) and 47-foot Motor Life Boat (MLB).
My time in the Coast Guard lasted from 2004 to 2012. I received my honorable discharge on May 27, 2012. It was a humbling experience.
Following the 2001, September 11th terrorist attack on the United States of America, I managed to put a lot of thought into joining one of the branches of our Armed Forces. At age 32, I made a life decision that I will never regret.