Twice a month, Coast Guard All Hands will feature “From the Homefront,” a column for Coast Guard spouses by Coast Guard spouse Shelley Kimball. Shelley has been married to Capt. Joe Kimball, commanding officer of Air Station Miami, for nearly 13 years and currently serves as chapter director for Blue Star Families in Miami, Fla.
Written by Shelley Kimball.
Our last column was, without a doubt, our most popular. It was so much fun to share all of the unique facets of Coast Guard life. It made me wonder what kids think about what our Coasties do all day.
So this week I tasked Coast Guard families with asking their kids one of two things, “What does Mom or Dad do at work all day?” or “What does the Coast Guard do?”
Joey and Gracie Kimball
I remember one year my husband took my son to work for Take Your Child to Work Day, and Joey was highly unimpressed with all the meetings and paperwork. He thought he would get to fly something, and sitting at a desk all day was quite a letdown for him.
When Gracie was in kindergarten, she came with us to a change of command in New Orleans, presided over by Rear Adm. Mary Landry. We introduced Gracie to Admiral Landry, and we later explained what a responsibility it is to be an admiral. Months later, Gracie was trying to ask us how Admiral Landry was, but she couldn’t remember her name. She said, “Who’s that big captain?” We still didn’t follow. “You know, that big captain, that lady who looks after all you boys!”
Today, our kids have a pretty good handle on what their dad does, and they are very proud of the Coast Guard as a whole. My daughter, Gracie, 9, said, “I think daddy tells the other people what to do and where to go. And he has to sign lots, and lots and lots of papers. The Coast Guard helps save people’s lives and is always there to help out everyone in need.”
Our son, Joey, 11, said, “The Coast Guard helps save lives for anyone who is stuck out at sea or anywhere else in the U.S. where they are in trouble.”
When Gabi Odom was 3 years old, her dad, Petty Officer 2nd Class Cody Odom, was attached to Coast Guard Cutter Aquideck with Patrol Forces Southwest Asia.
As a Machinery Technician, Cody is part of one of the Coast Guard’s largest ratings. MKs are assigned to every Coast Guard cutter, boat and shore station. MKs are trained not only as technicians, but as managers and leaders – acquiring a breadth of knowledge in all areas of machinery operation and maintenance from internal combustion engines (gas/diesel gas turbines) to environmental support systems (heating/ventilations/air conditioning), hydraulics, basic electricity, and areas of hazardous material recovery and control.
So, what does Gabi think her daddy does at work?
She used to tell people, “A boat owns my dad and he catches pirates.”
Aiden Ryan Riquelme
Aiden Ryan Riquelme’s dad, Petty Officer 2nd Class Ashley-Michael Brampton, is a maritime law enforcement officer. Maritime Enforcement Specialists are a cadre of professionals well grounded in knowledge and skills pertaining to law enforcement and security duties.
So what does Aiden Ryan think his Coastie dad does for a living?
After explaining that his dad arrests people and puts them in the brig below deck, and that a jail is similar to a cage, Aiden Ryan, 4, now tells people, “Daddy puts bad people in cages!”
Kaleb Dupont’s dad, Petty Officer 1st Class Tommy Dupont, is an aviation maintenance technician.
AMTs inspect, service, maintain, troubleshoot and repair aircraft engines, auxiliary power units, propellers, rotor systems, power train systems, and associated airframe and systems-specific electrical components. They service, maintain and repair aircraft fuselages; wings; rotor blades; fixed and movable flight control surfaces; and also bleed aircraft air, hydraulic and fuel systems. AMTs also fill aircrew positions such as flight engineer, flight mechanic, loadmaster, dropmaster, sensor-systems operator and basic aircrewman.
Kaleb, 6, said his dad and the crew at Air Station North Bend are keeping the waters safe.
“Anyone who flies on daddy’s helicopter saves people from sharks and beats those sharks up,” said Kaleb.
When Capt. Tom Allan’s kids were smaller, he transferred from Charleston, S.C., to the Ballston Commons Mall in Arlington, Va., to help start the Deployable Operations Group.
The kids were used to visiting their dad in locations near the water and on Coast Guard ships. His new office required parking in a garage and walking through a busy mall.
During a Veterans Day discussion at school, the teacher asked the class if they knew anyone in the military. Connor raised his hand and said, “Well, my dad used to be in the Coast Guard, but now he just works at a mall.”
When Emily Bunkiewicz, 6, was talking to her teacher about what her dad, Petty Officer 2nd Class Gregory Bunkiewicz does, she said, “My dad is gone on a boat ALL the time.”
The teacher waited for the next parent conference to ask her mom, Ara Bunkiewicz, what Emily meant.
Ara explained, “Her dad is in the Coast Guard and is gone a week at a time almost every other week.”
Dad is a machinery technician assigned the Coast Guard Cutter Bainbridge Island. Life aboard Bainbridge Island keeps dad busy as the cutter operates in the waters off the First Coast Guard District, from the Gulf of Maine to Southern New Jersey, and engages in Search & Rescue, enforces commericial fisheries laws and regulations and conducts counter-drug patrols from Maine to the Caribbean Sea.
The teacher was relieved. She said, “I was scared to ask you what she meant, I thought that she was saying her dad isn’t around at all.”
LauryAnn Gracilyn Renae Lalicker
LauryAnn Gracilyn Renae Lalicker, 4 ½, said of her dad, Petty Officer 2nd Class Marc Lalicker, “Daddy works really hard with wires and stuff and works on the board so they fly through the water.”
Dad is currently stationed at Air Station Port Angeles where he serves as an electrician’s mate. EM’s are the Coast Guard’s electrical systems specialists responsible for the installation, maintenance, repair and management of the electrical and electronic equipment all Coasties rely on for missions success.
According to LauryAnn, members of the Coast Guard “work on boats and go out on the water. Sometimes other people on their boats have to call for help, so their 9-1-1 is on the radio, and the Coast Guard is the ones that come to help on their boats. Just like when we are home and have to call 911 and I pick up the phone and call the fire trucks or the ambulance or police man.”
Nicholas and Adriana Ippolito
The Ippolito kids’ dad, Lt. Anthony Ippolito, is the executive officer at Station Fort Lauderdale.
Nicholas, 6, said, “My dad goes out on boats to keep bad guys and drugs from coming into America. He’s Coast Guard, he helps keep America safe.”
Adriana, 4, said, “My dad works on the computer and drives boats. He’s Coast Guard so you have to do what he says.”
Riley and Jocob Pavlik
Riley and Jacob Pavlik’s dad, Chief Warrant Officer Nick Pavlik, is with the Maritime Infrastructure Protection Unit – Training Advisory Group in Saudi Arabia.
Jacob, 7, said, “I think when a bad guy is hurting someone, my dad punches them until they go away and he arrests them.”
Riley, 9, said, “I think my dad helps people who are stranded in the water and rescues them.” And in his current duty overseas, Riley said his dad “goes to different countries to help people.”
I’d love to know what your kids think – go ask them and share it in the comments section below.
The views expressed herein are those of the author and are not to be construed as official or reflecting the views of the Commandant or of the U.S. Coast Guard.