Monday, August 4, 2008
You don't look a day over 200, baby.
[Above photo of USCGC Pt. Barnes and STS-41 liftoff. I found this photo online. The caption states it was taken by BMC Charles Kinnear. I fondly remember Chuck from the Pt. Barnes (which was out of Ft. Pierce, where I was stationed), and I hope he won't mind my stealing his picture.]
Happy 218th birthday to the United States Coast Guard, the military branch in which I served four years and from which my older sister retired as Commanding Officer of Station Port Canaveral.
In honor of the day, I would just like to mention the first member of the United States Coast Guard to go into space, Bruce Melnick.
I was stationed in Fort Pierce (just a bit south of Cape Canaveral) in October of 1990, and when we found out that one of us was going to be on STS-41, my roommate and I immediately made plans to be there.
We drove up early that morning and met up with Mr. K., the then-Commanding Officer of the Coast Guard station (Don't ask me why he wasn't at the station working. I don't make the rules. He was obviously very good at delegating.) on the Causeway.
It was the break of dawn, and everyone was happy and excited and Mr. K.'s wife had brought doughnuts and thermoses of coffee and beer (wouldn't be a Coastie gathering without it) and we laughed and listened to music and danced and waited.
We cheered as Discovery lifted off into the Florida sky, and more than one of us was so proud we were weeping.
Later, Mr. K. went down to the station and my roommate and I went to KSC. We were delighted at all the Coast Guard t-shirts we were seeing on other visitors. I distinctly remember being too warm in my Coast Guard sweatshirt. (I also distinctly remember getting a terrible stomachache after eating a freeze-dried ice cream sandwich on a dare, but that's a story for another time.)