Sometimes, our devotion to duty extends beyond operations. Sometimes, it’s our devotion to each other, as Shipmates, which compels us to do great things.
One recent expression of selfless compassion took place onboard the 210-foot Coast Guard Cutter Active when 30 crewmembers voluntarily shaved their heads to show their support for a fellow shipmate after an unfortunate turn of events changed the course of his life.
It was just before the holidays and Lt. Brian Mackey was having severe headaches and vision problems. It was when his wife, Dawn, finally drove him to the emergency room when he learned that he had advanced Glioblastoma brain cancer. The doctors quickly medically evacuated Mackey from Port Angeles, Wash., to a Seattle hospital where he had brain surgery the week before Christmas.
While he underwent treatment, the crew wanted to show their support beyond good wishes and a get-well card. In a gesture of unity, the officers, chiefs and several crewmembers shaved their heads both to show their compassion and to raise Mackey’s spirits.
“Currently, I’m in excellent health and undergoing preventative-eradication treatment,” said Mackey. “Through it all, I have received tremendous support from the Coast Guard family, it’s truly amazing. The District 13 Commander even stopped by the hospital to express his support, and the Commandant, Admiral Papp, called to express his wish that I get better; a conversation that both inspired and lifted my spirits.”
As a prior command chief onboard Active, the cutter holds a special place in the Mackey’s career. Once a boatswain’s mate, Mackey promoted his way up through the ranks to warrant officer and then on to lieutenant to return to Active as the operation’s officer.
“Our thoughts and best wishes go out to Brian and Dawn as he goes through his treatments,” said Cmdr. Chris Hollingshead, Active commanding officer. “We look forward to the day when he will once again be able to sail with us.”