As Americans reunite with their families this holiday season, our nation’s servicemembers stand the watch. Whether they are at sea defending our nation’s maritime borders, or deployed halfway around the world, their sacrifices can never be truly understood.
But, as Coast Guard men and women serve far from loved ones, they are backed by the finest support team in the world – the military family. From neighbors and coworkers to sons and daughters, the military family embodies the very same courage and strength of all who serve.
In the midst of Military Family Month, we wanted to share our appreciation of servicemembers and their families. And who better to show their gratitude, than the family members themselves! Read on for family and friends of Coast Guardsmen sharing their thanks in their own words.
A mother’s thank you
Submitted by Robin Stoeckler.
In August 1997 my oldest son began serving as a Coast Guard Reservist. He served out of Tillamook until his acceptance to the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point. He graduated in 2003 with a commission in the Coast Guard and was honored to receive the one flight school spot. In 2005 he earned his wings and has been flying HH-60s since.
On Sept. 11, 2001, still a midshipman at Kings Point, he was called to duty in New York City. He was an EMT and was a block away when Tower 7 fell. He and my future daughter-in-law, also a midshipman at Kings Point, helped the citizens of New York during that terrible time.
On the opposite coast, my second oldest son, a Coast Guard Reservist since 1999 with Port Security Unit 313 out of Tacoma, Wash., was also called to active duty on Sept. 11. He was sent to Kuwait and completed two tours of duty at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. After serving a couple of years fulltime out of Miami, he is now stationed on the Alex Haley out of Kodiak.
My youngest son, a midshipman at the Merchant Marine Academy, had the privilege of receiving an internship at Air Station Kodiak this past summer. When he graduates in 2013, he intends on becoming a Coastie, hoping also for a flight school spot.
As a mother, I don’t think I could be prouder of Lt. Christopher Stoeckler, Petty Officer 1st Class Carsten Stoeckler and Midshipman Kevan Stoeckler for their commitment to serve our country – no matter the sacrifice.
A daughter’s pride
Submitted by Cathryn Drake.
I would like to give my thanks to each and every man and woman who has served in the past, the present or will be serving in the future. The men and women of the Coast Guard do not get the credit from this country that they should.
I grew up in a Coast Guard family; I watched my father, Master Chief Petty Officer Charles W. Lyttle, serve this country with pride. He retired after 23 years. My father would say that every member of the Coast Guard deserves to be recognized every day. They are all very hard working.
My son has plans to join the Coast Guard and follow in his grandfather’s footsteps, and when he does this will be one very proud mom.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the sacrifices that are made daily and for those that were made and will be made. God Bless the U.S. Coast Guard.
The military way of life
Submitted by Craig and Cindy Howell.
Our daughter is Krista Leigh Howell who serves in the U.S. Coast Guard in Honolulu, Hawaii. She has touched our lives in so many wonderful ways. She started out by leaving her hometown of El Campo, Texas, to Seattle and from there to Boston. From Boston to San Diego and then on to Honolulu. She was on Coast Guard Cutter Kukui and now she is aboard Coast Guard Cutter Rush in Hawaii.
As the mother of two children, Rileigh, 5, and Landon, 4, it is tough being a mom and being away from her children while underway. They have been raised in this great military atmosphere. Krista takes pride in everything she does for our government and works hard to manage her daily life around her children and family. Being from Texas, she has learned to work hard and teach her children about the military way of life.
It is hard to leave for months at a time and for the kids to understand that mom will be back soon. It has really bonded them and they are so close as families should be… God Bless these everyday heroes of the Coast Guard and especially our beautiful daughter who is the greatest mom!
A life lesson learned
Submitted by Chief Petty Officer Nicole Stock.
The one individual of the Coast Guard with who touched my life is retired Chief Warrant Officer David Fenton. Mr. Fenton retired in the mid 1990s from Air Station North Bend, Ore. Mr. Fenton, in my opinion, had a very profound effect on my life and was extremely influential in my early years in the Coast Guard.
Mr. Fenton was an engineer at Air Station North Bend. He was a no-nonsense Coastie, however, he had an affinity for his people and love for the Coast Guard… One day Mr. Fenton pulled me in his office, mentioning to me that I seemed to be struggling and wanted to know what he could do to help. As a non-rate, being called into the office of a warrant officer was intimidating enough, let alone to tell him what was going on from my perspective. Over the course of our conversation, I was insistent that there was nothing wrong, however, through his unfailing patience, Mr. Fenton was able to find out why I was struggling.
Over the next several months, he would periodically check in to see how I was doing striking the yeoman rate. There was a life lesson learned that day. Mr. Fenton took it upon himself to help a fellow shipmate by taking time out of his day to help me, a non-rate, which shaped my career to this day.
Currently, I am a chief yeoman with 20 years of combined service in the Coast Guard and Coast Guard Reserve. If it were not for Mr. Fenton’s mentorship, I may not have made the Coast Guard a career. I credit my 20 years of service in part to Mr. Fenton because of his empathy for his shipmate with who was struggling to find her place to fit in, in her new job.