Season 1 (2019)

Episode 52: Jon Gagnon

Episode 51: Master Chief Boatswain’s Mate Jon Gagnon (Ret.) talks the search for a fisherman who fell overboard in monstrous surf off the Oregon coast, how towing and searching are performed in the surf by motor lifeboat crews, and the most impactful lessons learned from his years in command of Coast Guard stations. 

Episode 51: Steven Craig

Captain Steven Craig (Ret.) talks the dangers of walking a cutter’s deck in storm tossed seas, rising in the ranks from Seaman to mustang Captain, and being activated thirteen times as a reservist in response to major events and disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina, Deepwater Horizon, and the 7.0 earthquake centered on Haiti. He also talks the dramatic story behind his new book “All Present and Accounted For”, which tells how the USCGC Jarvis grounded then nearly sank in a storm off the Alaskan coast in 1972.

Read more about Captain Craig and his latest book at

Episode 50: Dan Shirey

Former Boatswain’s Mate Dan Shirey talks pitchpoling a 44 ft Motor Lifeboat on the Chetco River bar, responding to a sinking fishing vessel despite knowing he lacked enough fuel to make it back to shore, escorting a listing cargo ship hundreds of miles to reach a safe port, qualifying as a diver, using the skills gained through his service to pursue underwater treasure hunting, and diving on the wrecks of the same whaling ships that were the cause of the 1897 Overland Relief Expedition where some of the earliest Coast Guard heroes earned their fame. 

Episode 49: Mark Holmes

Former Radioman Mark Holmes talks heading out and into a storm so severe it forced the Navy into port, responding to a foundering sailing vessel with a skeleton crew aboard CGC Courageous, procuring a replacement deck gun for a cutter from the front lawn of a VFW, surviving waterspouts and tornadoes, and how his experiences in the service caused him to begin writing. Listen now at the link in our bio. 

To learn more about Mark head to

And check out Mark’s other books at -

Episode 48: Gerry Rohrer

Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Gerry Rohrer (Ret.) talks the lifesaving efforts to retrieve and MEDEVAC an elderly couple from a sailboat breaking apart on the rocks of a Michigan jetty, responding to hard water emergencies with an ice rescue team, deploying overseas to train Middle Eastern maritime forces with Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA), and finishing off his career as an advisor to the Kiwis.

Episode 47: Doug Johnson

Former Boatswain’s Mate Doug Johnson provides a travelogue of exotic locations he served at throughout the Pacific, including his time at a remote LORAN Station on Marcus Island nearly 700 miles from the nearest point of land. He also tells of responding to the aftermath of a typhoon in Guam and a few highlights from leading crews on search and rescue and law enforcement cases as a coxswain on 30 and 40 ft wooden hull boats and on the brand new 41 UTB at stations in Honolulu and Kauai. For the most choice assignments in a single enlistment, Doug may have the record.

Episode 46: Tim Schmitz

Commander and helicopter pilot Tim Schmitz talks the daring effort to rescue nearly fifty victims after their vessel, the ‘Alaska Ranger’, sank in the Bering Sea 180 miles west of Dutch Harbor, Alaska. A nighttime takeoff from the storm swept and frozen deck of the cutter Munro, a flight plan with no possibility of reaching shore and no margin of error to make it back to the cutter, only dim strobe lights to guide the crew to those treading water, the loss of a victim despite the determined efforts of all involved, and the triumph of saving lives at sea - it’s a story that is truly dangerous, daring, and epic.

Episode 45: Kevin Gilheany

Retired Quartermaster and Boatswain Kevin Gilheany talks a search and rescue case involving a commercial fishing vessel that was poised to play out like a Greek tragedy until he took action to establish a viable search area and direct assets to locate and save the survivor. He also talks heavy seas in a newly commissioned 270 foot medium endurance cutter, taking celestial fixes aboard America’s tall ship, and his work to form the USCG Pipe Band.

Episode 44: Spooky Sea Yarns

To celebrate Halloween our hosts tell of their experiences with haunted Coast Guard cutters and stations. They also make an incredibly weak attempt to start a new legend about their favorite waterway.

Episode 43: Chris Costa

Former Boatswain’s Mate Chris Costa talks counter narcotics along the southern border, becoming an instructor and deploying worldwide to train partner nations, and how his service set the stage for later success as a trainer with Magpul Dynamics and now Costa Ludus.

Episode 42: Ashlee Leppert

Retired Aviation Electronics Technician and Helicopter Flight Mechanic Ashlee Leppert talks earning the Air Medal for flying with her crew into the midst of Hurricane Harvey to rescue desperate survivors from rising flood waters, unknowingly hoisting a basket packed with babies up and into the safety of a helicopter, and how responders overcome the emotional trauma of disaster by leaning on their crews. Now the author of the new book “The Hurricane Within”, she shares what motivates her writing and her hopes that others can learn from both her successes and mistakes.

Episode 41: Mike Vecchione

Retired Chief Maritime Enforcement Specialist Mike Vecchione talks risking his first coxswain letter with a search for survivors from a capsized vessel based on his own local knowledge rather than the algorithm used by a command center computer, deploying worldwide with the International Training Division, and losing a member of his team during a high risk training exercise. Now the owner of a cigar shop and partner in a coffee company, he also tells how they are supporting veterans and their families.

Episode 40: Ron LaBrec

Retired Captain Ron LaBrec talks being on the bridge of a 270 during a search for survivors from a wrecked vessel, leading law enforcement detachments on deployments worldwide to counter maritime smuggling, and his toughest duty while in command. Now on the staff of the Coast Guard Foundation, he also talks how the nonprofit serves to help those in uniform and their families, especially in times of need and loss. Learn more at

Episode 39: Wesley Jansen

Retired Boatswain’s Mate Wesley Jansen talks a faint call for help and reviving a heart attack victim in dense fog off the Washington coast, a white knuckle day in Alaskan waters and the speed conversation all coxswains have with their crews, standing up the “Fighting Otters” and MSST Anchorage to protect the Alaska oil pipeline post 9/11, and how one of a company commander’s most effective tactics is simply telling others they’ve been a disappointment.

Find out more about Wesley and where you can watch his acting work on the Internet Movie Database at

Episode 38: Amelia Presley

Former Machinery Technician Amelia Presley talks search and rescue “Cajun style”, standing duty as an engineer on the Coast Guard’s newest boat types, being on watch during the search for the crew of a downed USCG helicopter, and how she’s carrying on the family legacy (yeah, that Presley) by making music influenced by her service.

Learn more about Amelia at
Listen to the music of the Highway Sisters duo at

Episode 37: Michael Ellis

Master Chief Boatswain’s Mate Michael Ellis talks the rescue of a fishing vessel captain held hostage off the coast of Guam, his first case as a certified coxswain, leadership lessons from a decade in command, and how he’s using his own podcast to better connect with and inform the Coast Guard’s enlisted workforce.

Episode 36: Vince Patton

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Vince Patton (Ret.) talks receiving that first SOS while underway on the Cutter Dallas, his rise through the ranks to become the first African American to fill the service’s top enlisted role, and his continued efforts to preserve the legacy and stories of the service through construction of a National Coast Guard Museum. 

Episode 35: Donna Cottrell

Rear Admiral Donna Cottrell talks the launch of three helicopters to save a foundering commercial fishing vessel off Atlantic City, leading the response to a medical evacuation as an enlisted BM and coxswain, and commanding the service’s aerial gun crews at the Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON).

Episode 34: Miguel Calderon

Former Maritime Enforcement Specialist Miguel Calderon talks a tense standoff with a well armed boat at the southern border, how hijinks at a station likely inspired a scene in the movie Jackass, and how once you’ve worn blue you’ll always have friends to turn to.

Episode 33: Live from Grand Haven

Recorded live on the Waterfront Stage at the Coast Guard Festival in Grand Haven, Michigan – Marine Science Technician Zac Edwards talks his wedding and the rescue of a victim trapped in an Alabama rip current. President of the National Coast Guard Museum Association, Capt Wes Pulver (Ret.), talks at sea holiday celebrations on board CGC Eagle.

Episode 32: Live from Grand Haven

Recorded live on the Waterfront Stage at the Coast Guard Festival in Grand Haven, Michigan – Phil & National Coast Guard Museum Communications Director Drew Forester talk with Boatswains Mate Chuck Vogel about his response to a boat allision with a breakwall and the MEDEVAC of its seriously injured passengers, and the rescue of a swimmer in distress who was pulled to safety at the last possible second.

Episode 31: Shawnle Jones

Former Storekeeper Shawnle Jones talks candidly about the challenges and struggles of being one of the first women to enlist after the Coast Guard opened all assignments to women in 1978, her first tour of duty as a Motor Lifeboat Crewmember at Station Fort Point in San Francisco Bay where she was routinely called on to respond to cases involving the tragic loss of life at sea, and her ongoing support to the Women In Military Service For America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetary. Note this episode covers mature subject matter. Parental discretion is advised. 

Episode 30: Steve Hathaway

CWO Steve Hathaway (Ret.) talks the first years of the Coast Guard’s Helicopter Rescue Swimmer Program and what it took to prove swimmers could save lives, responding to a plane crash in the swift waters of an Alaskan river, a tough MEDEVAC off Oahu, the aftermath of Hurricane Iniki, a boat fire in the frigid waters of Cape Cod, and the aerial delivery of a boarding team to stop a massive human smuggling attempt.

Episode 29: Chris O’Brien

Lieutenant Chris O’Brien (Ret.) talks circumnavigating the Earth on a High Endurance Cutter, interdicting suspected pirates in the Gulf of Aden, and coordinating the rescue of a downed fighter pilot in the middle of the Pacific. 

Find out more about Chris and his disabled veteran owned business at BROB Analytics, LLC and at

Episode 28: Joe Peterson

Former Coast Guardsman Joe Peterson talks the unexpected arrival of the Russian fishing fleet off the Oregon coast in the late ‘60s and how his ability to read and speak Russian put him in the middle of high profile medevacs, law enforcement, and security actions that stoked public fears throughout the entire country. 

Find out more about Joe and the CGC Comanche at

Episode 27: Brian Boland

From our first live show at the Escape Hatch in E City – Commander Brian Boland talks his first command as an Ensign, flying the mighty C-130 Hercules, and how the plane and its aircrew respond to search and rescue, law enforcement, and security missions in spite of weather that keeps all other flights grounded.

Listen to Brian’s music with Unknown Rider at Amazon and Apple Music and pickup his entire series of books on Amazon

Episode 26: Don Murray

From our first live show at the Escape Hatch in E City – Master Chief Aviation Survival Technician Don Murray (Ret.) talks the rescue of a fishing vessel crew in a violent nor’easter off the Massachusetts coast and a broken helicopter hoist that left him and a survivor without a ride home. 

Learn more about Master Chief Murray at

Episode 25: Adrian Campbell

Former Fire Control Technician Adrian Campbell talks running cannons at GQ-1 in hostile waters, earning the Cutterman insignia, and celebrating line crossings as she sailed the world’s oceans. 

To learn more about Adrian visit –

Episode 24: Chad Carlson

Maritime Enforcement Specialist and former Aviation Survival Technicial Chad Carlson (Ret.) talks an all volunteer mission into the worst of a tropical storm to save the crew of a tugboat grounded on a shoal and breaking apart in violent surf off the Georgia coast. 

Episode 23: Jeremy Gourde

Chief Boatswains Mate Jeremy Gourde (Ret) talks exceeding operational limits to send a towline to a disabled fishing boat threatening an Atlantic City bridge and the punishing response to save a jet ski’s operator who set out in a hurricane. 

Episode 22: Michael Carr

Former Lieutenant Michael Carr talks diving on the wreck of the Cutter Blackthorn in the immediate aftermath of her deadly collision on Tampa Bay and the search and recovery efforts for 23 Coast Guardsmen, responding to the collision of the MV Summit Venture with the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, and diving under an icy Potomac River to locate the wreckage and victims of Air Florida Flight 90. 

Find out more about Michael at

Episode 21: Chris Huntington

Former Special Agent Chris Huntington of the Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS) talks sailing to war as a Fire Control Technician in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, a dogfight in an HH65 above the Nation’s capital, the focused experience of a near deadly force encounter while serving an arrest warrant, and the measured response to an IED attack while deployed to the Middle East.

Episode 20: Pepe Carire 

Chief Aviation Survival Technician Pepe Carire ( Ret.) talks life and death decisions in the surf off Puerto Rico during one of his first missions as a helicopter rescue swimmer, and the lessons learned from an overturned liferaft in the frigid waters of the Atlantic.

Episode 19: John Koop

Former Surfman John Kopp talks what it takes to pass an underway checkride and certify to lead boat crews in the surf, and how he’s helping to keep the lessons learned from a 1997 tragedy alive in the hopes they prevent future loss of life.

Episode 18: Kyle Kinser

Former Maritime Enforcement Specialist Kyle Kinser talks his personal struggles to transition from an active maritime tactical unit to a slower paced assignment and later civilian life. Surviving suicide attempts and a criminal conviction, he now helps and inspires others suffering through similar times in their lives.

Episode 17: Mario Vittone

Chief Warrant Officer Mario Vittone (Ret.) talks a response to a distressed vessel off the Georgia coast that turned near catastrophic, with a rescue swimmer left alone in a liferaft hundreds of miles from shore and a helicopter so low on fuel its crew prepared to ditch into the Atlantic.

Episode 16: Tim Montowski

On the mission’s 25th anniversary, Boatswain’s Mate Timothy Montowski (Ret.) talks deploying to Haiti for Operation Uphold Democracy and the unique wartime roles played by reservists assigned to the nation’s Port Security Units.

Episode 15: Glen Holt

Former Operations Systems Specialist Glen Holt talks the response to a sinking tall ship and the levels of responsibility placed on even the most junior personnel in the service.

Episode 14: Dwight Crumpacker

Boatswain’s Mate Dwight Crumpacker talks a nighttime tow with an expecting mother in big swells off the Oregon coast and running some of the last wood hull life and utility boats in active service.

Episode 13: Sean McCarthy

Boatswain Sean McCarthy (Ret.) talks a rescue and medevac in breaking seas off Fire Island, NY and how leaders are forged through experience.

Learn more about BOSN McCarty at

Episode 12: Tom Ellis

Former Radarman Tom Ellis talks the response to a tanker fire in Seattle and icebreaking operations at both ends of the Earth.

Episode 11: Charles
McDonald Holt 

Charles ‘Tex’ McDonald Holt talks a Texas flood that left him in a fight for survival after his boat capsized, and the friend who defied orders to save him.

Find out more about Charles on his website at

Episode 10: Matt Crow

AST1 (Ret.) Matt Crow talks a boat that broke up in the surf off Puerto Rico and the Herculean effort to get all nine survivors out of the water and to safety.

Episode 9: Cody Wright

Aviation Survival Technician Cody Wright talks a deadly boat collision on the Great Lakes and how seemingly minor lessons from the service’s most difficult school prepared him to adapt, overcome, & persevere when lives, including his own, were on the line.

Episode 8: Todd Fletcher

Chief Boatswains Mate (Ret.) Todd Fletcher talks a man overboard during a security boarding off the South Carolina coast, the MEDEVAC that followed, and how a small Alaskan island nearly became a graveyard for his boat and crew.

Episode 7: Carlos Perez

Chief Maritime Enforcement Specialist (Ret.) Carlos Perez talks how the 9/11 attacks played out in view of his boat crew, the maritime evacuation of Manhattan, and dealing with the realization that we as responders can do everything possible, but won’t always be able to make a difference to prevent tragedy.

Episode 6: Mark Engle

Senior Chief (Ret.) Mark Engle talks the tragic loss of a tanker off the Maryland coast, the final words of her captain, and the lessons on duty and attention to detail he’s carried ever since.

Episode 5: Bob Downs

Boatswain (Ret.) Bob Downs talks a real fast night time tow into Oregon’s Chetco River, a search of a boat for an armed suspect, and a migrant interdiction off the Texas coast.

Episode 4: Kristin & Wes Lunkley

Kristin & Wes Lunkley talk a Coast Guard Medal case that ended in the successful rescue a victim trapped in a capsized boat and the lifelong relationships created by a close knit service whose everyday missions involve life and death.

Episode 3: Tom Rooks

Senior Chief (Ret.) Tom Rooks talks a helicopter crash on the flight deck of an underway cutter and the intense levels of responsibility the USCG places on even its most junior personnel.

Episode 2: Tim Woody

Boatswain (Ret.) Tim Woody talks a night time surf case at the mouth of California’s Noyo River and the dangers of the “press to respond” that all rescuers feel.

Episode 1

Our hosts introduce the podcast and tell the first sea stories.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed on this site and on the podcast are those of the individuals involved and do not reflect the views of any government agency or military service. This podcast is an independent effort with no government association.