It was the eve of Coast Guard Cutter Robert Yered’s commissioning. The decks were abuzz with anticipation as the crew was just hours away from taking their months of training to the sea. The Coast Guard’s fourth fast response cutter – with its impressive array of capabilities and state-of-the-art technology – will be a sentinel on the shores of our nation. But this sentinel will also be a symbol of valor; the valor of Engineman 1st Class Robert Yered.
“The fast response cutters are all being named after enlisted heroes in the Coast Guard’s history,” said Lt. Paul Stepler, Coast Guard Cutter Robert Yered’s commanding officer. “I can’t describe how proud I am to be a part of that legacy and I know the crew is very proud of that as well.”
Yered was one of some 8,000 Coast Guardsmen who served in the Vietnam War, and as the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Robert Yered prepared for commissioning, Yered’s family, friends and Vietnam veterans came together to honor his legacy.
“I just feel like this is something that will give me closure for my father’s passing,” said Lori Geddis, Yered’s daughter and the ship’s sponsor. “I wish he was here to see this.”
Robert Yered signed up for the Coast Guard when he was just a teenager and his first duty stations were in Connecticut and then Maine. When the Coast Guard needed people with his specific skills to help with the war effort, he was off to Vietnam where he was an ammunitions specialist.
“There were only a few of us in Vietnam at the time,” said retired Chief Petty Officer J.J. O’Neil, a Vietnam veteran who met Yered overseas. “There was probably no more than 300 or 400 Coast Guardsman there. So, as the Marine Corps says, they’re the few and the proud. We were the extremely few and the proud.”
On the morning of Feb. 18, 1968, Yered was on watch at the United States Army Terminal, Cat Lai, Vietnam, when the terminal was attacked by enemy fire. He exposed himself to a barrage of bullets as he helped extinguish fires on burning barges. His boldness averted not only the destruction of his own ship but also that of the entire terminal.
Yered’s father, George Yered Sr., recalls vividly the morning he first heard of his son’s fearless actions. His sister called him and before he could even say hello she blurted out “Bobby is on the front page of all the papers! He saved Saigon Harbor!”
Yered is one of 12 Coast Guardsmen awarded the Silver Star. Among his other awards are the Vietnam Service Medal with four bronze stars and a Purple Heart Medal. Along with these accolades, Yered was given another honor after the war: pick whatever duty he wanted next. George Yered Sr. recalls trying to convince his son to go somewhere for an adventure; somewhere warm and sunny. Robert Yered just wanted to go home.
Yered went on to serve 21 years in the Coast Guard and moved back to his hometown with his wife and two children. Despite retirement, the service always held a special place in his heart.
“He lived and breathed the Coast Guard. That was his life,” said George Yered Sr. “When he walked he had that swagger of life on boats. He couldn’t stand straight, always moving back and forth!”
Engineman 1st Class Robert Yered leaves behind a legacy of extraordinary bravery. May the crews of Coast Guard Cutter Robert Yered always live up to what this hero stood for and of course carry on Yered’s swagger from life aboard a boat.