Written by Chief Warrant Officer Donnie Brzuska.
Fourteen. That’s the number of search and rescue cases that Petty Officer 1st Class Rick Bauz has worked where he and his crew couldn’t rescue everyone. If he’s asked how many cases he’s worked where he’s saved a life, he just shrugs and says “I don’t really count them because I was just doing my job.”
However, it’s the people that Bauz couldn’t save that haunt him, and he can describe in vivid detail the time that he and his crew tried to save a man mortally wounded by a boat’s propeller near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel in Virginia. His eyes cloud as he remembers jumping in the water to pull a man from the cockpit of a downed aircraft to only find his lifeless body.
It’s these experiences says Bauz, a company commander at Training Center Cape May and boatswains mate by trade, that make him want to train harder and train the future of America’s Coast Guard harder. It’s this desire to train that was the inspiration of Bauz’s cadence “Old Man James,” one of the Coast Guard’s Top 5 Cadences for 2013.
“Old Man James” chronicles the life and death of Capt. Joshua James, a member of the U.S. Lifesaving Service and one of the most celebrated lifesavers in history. The Lifesaving Service was combined with the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service in 1915 to create the modern day Coast Guard. James is credited with saving more than 600 lives, but it’s the tragic events that led to James’ death that Bauz focuses on in his cadence.
On March 17, 1902, an eight-person crew from the Monomoy Point Life Saving Station launched to help five mariners in distress during heavy seas made even more dangerous an ebbing tide. Sadly, seven of the eight surfmen and the five mariners would fall victim to the fury of Mother Nature. Bauz’s cadence references that fateful night and the impact it had on James who took his crew out to train in heavy seas two days later to prevent similar incident with his own men at Life Saving Station Point Allerton, Mass.
James, 75, along with his crew maneuvered their surf boat through the heavy seas that day for more than hour before returning to shore. As the boat touched the sand, the legendary lifesaver leapt from the vessel, cast his eyes to the sea and said his final words – “the tide is ebbing.” James dropped dead immediately from a heart attack after uttering those legendary last words.
“This cadence is not only about teaching our recruits our history,” says Bauz. “It’s about instilling a sense of urgency to prepare and train for the worst, and while we may not be able to save everyone in the Coast Guard, we can find comfort in the fact that we’ve done everything we can to ensure we’re ready for the call.”
Each year Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, the service’s only enlisted basic training facility, solicits original marching cadences from across the service. The Cadence Contest helps develop original Jody calls that educate and motivate the future of America’s Coast Guard.
“The Coast Guard Cadence Contest allows servicemembers from across the Coast Guard to educate our recruits,” said Capt. Todd Prestidge, the commanding officer of Coast Guard Training Center Cape May. “Everything we do here is aimed at educating and preparing future Coast Guardsmen for the rigors of service, and that includes when they call cadence.”
The Coast Guard will release the Top 5 Cadences throughout the week of Sept. 23, and the public will be given the opportunity to vote on their favorite cadence by “liking” it on Facebook and YouTube. The Top Coast Guard Cadence of 2013 will be announced the week of Oct. 14.
Behind every cadence, there’s a story, and each story is aimed at preparing future Coast Guardsmen. During “Old Man James,” the recruits recite the words “greater love hath no man, risked life to save a friend.” Not only are these words the words etched on the tombstone of Joshua James, but they help instill a sense of duty among the future life savers.
Training Center Cape May is proud to present “Old Man James:”