Written by Petty Officer 2nd Class Cynthia Oldham
A few days each week Amanda Terry gets to wake up early with 4-year-old Aurora and spend a few precious minutes just being a mom. She helps her daughter get dressed, and chitchats with her while they eat breakfast together.
This is Terry’s favorite time of day. Then, as Terry leaves to “go see her airplane” she wakes her husband to let him know she is headed out.
On a devoted quest for balance, Terry said being a mother who serves in the U.S. Coast Guard is the road less traveled – but shouldn’t be because mothers have a lot to offer the service.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Terry serves as an avionics electrical technician (AET) at Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod, in Massachusetts. She is a mission system operator aboard the HC-144 Ocean Sentry, a medium range surveillance aircraft. It’s a duty Terry said she truly loves.
Each day at the air station is different for Terry; she has a hard time explaining what a typical workday is like, as there are no ordinary days. Two or three nights each week, Terry stays overnight at the air station so she is immediately available to deploy when the search and rescue alarm goes off. Last year, the air station’s crew aided 255 search and rescue cases and saved 40 lives.
Terry is a strong believer that people make room in their lives for what is important to them. She knows there is no doing or having it all, but there is, however, giving your all. Terry takes a lot of comfort in the fact that with her service she is doing something for the good of others – and her young daughters seem to recognize that.
“It’s kind of embarrassing but my kids totally think I am a superhero going out to save everyone in trouble,” Terry said.
During the day, she is also on stand-by for search and rescue, but could be working to repair or replace failed components to keep aircraft on a ready status, or doing routine inspections or maintenance. Her favorite thing though, is flying.
With more than 1,000 logged flight hours, Terry is a skilled and respected aircrew member.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Paul Politsopoulos, another AET at the air station, described Terry as a crewmember others look up to, as she offers sincere encouragement to others looking to develop their own capabilities.
“Terry is always willing to provide a helping hand,” Politsopoulos said. “Her versatility stands out, from scheduling to standing duty, she is always helping others earn their qualifications.”
During flights, Terry is a proficient electronics technician who operates the aircraft’s many sensor systems for better communication with land units. With extreme attention to detail, she also controls the aircraft’s highly technical search RADAR, used for enhanced overall mission success for search and rescue, fisheries enforcement and protection, law enforcement, and multi-service training operations.
After the workday, and when Terry is not on night duty, she values evenings at home with her family, and finding special one-on-one time with her younger daughter, Iris.
Terry describes her husband, who is a stay-at-home dad, as her absolute rock and strongest supporter.
“He is truly amazing at doing the little things for our girls my duty schedule doesn’t always allow me to take care of … he fixes their hair, paints their nails, even makes their dinners from scratch,” she said.
Terry joined the Coast Guard in 2009 intending to make the service her family. Now, she distributes her time between her two families – creating an added challenge; making time for her.
She tries to be creative in finding personal time; working and studying during quiet duty nights, or after the kids go to bed. Terry advocates for military mothers to band together for support. She keeps in touch with friends from previous units, and with every change in duty station, her support network only grows.
Terry kindly offers two crucial pieces of advice for other military mothers; to live as close to work as possible so traffic and distance do not steal family time, and to make time for your spouse – get dressed up, put on make-up, go on dates and talk to each other.
Terry added it’s also important to make sure your spouse is up for the adventure and challenge military life has to offer.
Both at home and in the Coast Guard, Terry’s natural drive to help others is inspiring. Also motivating, is her natural courage and persistence in chasing her own goals.
Pursuing the esteemed rank of chief petty officer, Terry is looking ahead to a full, dedicated military career. For now, she takes life one day, one challenge at a time – and makes it a point to laugh at herself when things go wrong.