Season 2 (2020)

Episode 84: Steve Love

Commander Steve Love (Ret.) talks 34 years of active service, his first patrol out of basic training aboard CGC Cherokee, white knuckling the helm and being lashed to the mast during the search for a distressed sailboat in a hurricane force storm, deploying as a cutter swimmer to rescue the crew of a downed Navy mine sweeping helicopter, searching for stowaways in Panama City, the origins of fatigue limits, his first command at Station Cape May and the tough personnel and operational decisions he was called on to make, how the Response Boat - Small II came to be a part of the fleet, and commanding a Maritime Force Protection Unit whose mission is to protect the nation’s nuclear submarine fleet.

Episode 83: Erin Stapleton

Boatswain Erin Stapleton (Ret) talks service as the Sailmaster aboard the Tall Ship Eagle during a crossing of the Atlantic, recovering a man overboard under sail, training and mentoring Academy cadets underway, qualifying as a diver in the early days of the service’s program, diving on piers and ships in support of the port security and drug interdiction missions of Maritime Safety and Security Teams, a close call during a cruise ship hull inspection, investigating sea mine blast sites, attending the US Air Force Non Commissioned Officers Academy, his experiences with good and bad command climates as the Executive Petty Officer of a patrol boat and station, and taking command of Station Maui where he applied the lessons learned throughout his career to lead heavy weather and tactical boat crews and create agency partnerships that saved lives.

Episode 82: Kurt Strauch

Boatswain Kurt Strauch (Ret.) talks Coast Guard firefighting, including the rescue of a commercial fishing crew aboard an 80 foot scalloper on fire off Montauk, New York, the massive effort to save a 180 foot freighter on fire in the Florida Straits, saving the Cutter Gallatin after a fire broke out in dry dock, and extinguishing flames aboard the Polar Star during a voyage to the Antarctic. He also tells of operations at McMurdo Station, serving as an arctic pilot during the tow of a disabled 400 foot cargo ship from the Southern Ocean to New Zealand, migrant interdictions in the South Pacific, and commanding an IMARV on the Potomac in the aftermath of 9/11, a station, and an 87 foot cutter as an enlisted Boatswain’s Mate and Officer in Charge.

Episode 81: Zach Snavely

Former ME2 Zach Snavely talks surviving recruit training with Phil after both enlisted in West Virginia, striking Boatswain’s Mate, service as a coxswain on the northern border at Station Niagara, how the loss of a boat crew created a lasting culture of ownership, a faint cry for help that led to a lifesaving case, running Deck Force aboard Cutter Bear, major swells during a crossing of the Atlantic, switching rates to Maritime Enforcement Specialist, and counter terrorism with the Maritime Security Response Team (MSRT) as a shooter, breacher, comms officer, and medic. He also talks his transition to the State Department and current work with the Arcuri Group.

Learn more about Zach and sign up for his webinar series at 

Learn about his new 14K foot peak initiative at

Episode 80: Claude Morrissey

Part I. Retired Chief Aviation Survival Technician (ASTC) Claude Morrissey talks his first case as a rescue swimmer, saving fishermen washed from a jetty during Hurricane Claudette, refining his greeting to survivors, flying hundreds of miles into the Atlantic to rescue the crew of a demasted luxury catamaran, earning a rescue swimmer T-shirt, life and death in the Bering Sea, rituals prior to leaving the runway, 60s vs 65s, and starting his own business - Morrissey Stump Grinding and Tree Service in Camden, North Carolina.

Episode 79: Chris Campbell

Former Quartermaster Chris Campbell talks being recalled to the CGC Sedge in the midst of a violent winter storm in an effort to save the crew of a foundering fishing vessel off the Alaskan coast, the effort to clear ice and keep the cutter afloat, an inspiring speech from his CO explaining why Coast Guard crews have to go out, mailing beards to Washington after facial hair was outlawed by  the uniform regs, lasting leadership lessons from a BM3 in charge of Deck Force, simulated liberty, patrolling the Florida Keys aboard CGC Thetis, QM ‘A’ School and pre-GPS navigation, and quelling a near riot of migrants detained on deck.

Episode 78: Steve Denning

Chief Boatswains Mate Steve Denning (Ret.) talks the nighttime race to rescue nineteen people, fourteen of them children, from a capsized boat at the entrance to the port of Los Angeles/Long Beach, the struggle to conduct a search beneath an overturned hull, commanding a Coast Guard station as its Officer in Charge, rescuing and repatriating dozens of Haitian migrants after weeks at sea, breaking in coxswain at Station Barnegat Light and signing his letter as the crew runs to the sound of a SAR alarm, lessons in boat handling and seamanship from a Surfman mentor at Tillamook Bay, balancing risk to a boat crews with the demands of missions at sea, stopping a boat in a high speed and uncontrolled spin in one of his first cases, crewing black hulls and working CG-6P lanterns, deploying for counter drug patrols on more than forty naval ships with PACTACLET, managing the demands of family with those of military service, applying officer discretion during a boarding that didn’t feel right, meeting Davey Jones and Neptune’s court at the equator, and intercepting arms, munitions, and suspected mercenaries aboard a boat bound for South America.

Episode 77: Alex Mangum

Former AMT and HH60 Flight Mechanic Alex Mangum talks a massive effort to save three commercial fishermen after their boat grounded in a remote Alaskan Bay during the worst storm many at the airstation had ever experienced, his first case as a flight mechanic and its textbook MEDEVAC from the deck of a cruise ship, training to perform helicopter hoists in severe weather, how operational crews deal with incidents that truly shake them, staring in the inaugural episode of Coast Guard Alaska, and how the benefits gained through service helped him to achieve his post Coast Guard career goals.

Episode 76: Rick Kunz

Former Engineman Rick Kunz talks life and service on Lake Ontario’s Galloo Island where the Coast Guard maintained both a station and a lighthouse, four decades of uniform, grooming, and protective equipment advances at Station Oswego, ranking the coasts on a scale of painful seas, picking the right boat for the right weather, taking a 30 footer with him as he left the service, and how the Coast Guard Auxiliary offers boat owners, pilots, and other volunteers a chance to make a difference.

Episode 75: ’Thunder’ Dann Merrick

Retired Chief Maritime Enforcement Specialist ‘Thunder’ Dann Merrick talks standing up Maritme Safety and Security Teams (MSST) in the aftermath of 9/11, securing the Persian Gulf aboard CGC Monomoy, deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan with the Redeployment Assistance and Inspection Detachment (RAID), and training the navies and coastguards of the world with the Mobile Training Branch.

Episode 74: Mike Kreynus

Senior Chief Radioman Mike Kreynus (Ret.) talks a lasting lesson in leadership and open door policy from the CO of the CGC Comanche, his time as a plain clothes Coast Guard Intelligence agent, being Chief of the Boat for the last of the screaming sea captains aboard CGC Boutwell, running a west coast command center, the founding of the Chief Petty Officer’s Association, and his thoughts on the practices of the greatest leaders.

Episode 73: James M. Loy

21st Commandant of the Coast Guard and former Acting Secretary of the Department is Homeland Security James Loy talks a lesson in leadership early in his career during a dangerous maneuver in heavy seas, commanding patrol boats on the Virginia coast and in wartime Vietnam, delivering a baby on the flight deck of an underway cutter, ending the pursuit of a drug trafficker with a well aimed fire hose, leading the service on 9/11, how flags and Commandants make decisions with servicewide and national impacts, and his experiences leading at the highest levels of government.

After you listen, read Admiral Loy’s books,  “Character in Action: The US Coast Guard on Leadership” and “The Architecture of Leadership: Preparation Equals Performance”. Also checkout and follow the Loy Institute for Leadership

Episode 72: Gary Thomas

CDR Gary Thomas (Ret.) talks deploying into heavy seas as a cutter swimmer to rescue a man overboard, commanding a Key West patrol boat during the tragic sinking of a Haitian ferry, working to support LORANimals, and how these events illustrate the servicewide impacts individuals can have in the Coast Guard. He also discusses his work with the National Coast Guard Museum Association and the Association for Rescue at Sea, Inc. - AFRAS, both partners of They Had to Go Out Podcast.

Episode 71: Martha Kotite

Captain Martha Kotite (Ret.) talks the attempted takeover of a cutter by a group of migrants detained on board, serving as the XO of a Key West patrol boat, flying in style aboard the Commandant’s Gulfstream, and high level public affairs efforts during a series of defining events for the service.

Learn more about Martha, book her for a speaking event, and read “So Others May Live”, “Changing the Rules of Engagement”, and “My Name is Old Glory” at

Episode 70: Gina Panuzzi

This is one you don’t want to miss... Retired Aviation Electronics Technician (AET) Gina Panuzzi talks a decade of service in Coast Guard aviation, the crash of CG-6028 in the Utah mountains that nearly claimed her life, and her road to recovery in the aftermath.

Episode also available on our YouTube Channel at


Episode 69: Todd Ebner

Episode 69: Former AET2 Todd Ebner talks his decade of service in Coast Guard aviation, locating 17 survivors of a fishing trip gone wrong off the Alaskan coast, transporting a dead whale in the cargo hold of a C-130, tracking Russian and Chinese poachers, taking down a corrupt government official in American Samoa, rights of passage at ‘A’ School in E City, and coping with the loss of so many who have died in the line of duty.

Checkout Todd Ebner Photography for some epic photos by Todd.

Episode 68: Tina Claflin

Senior Chief Machinery Technician Tina Claflin (Ret.) talks towing a sailboat through high surf, sailing aboard the tall ship Eagle, Strike Team CBR call outs for everything from a tire fire in Ohio to a burning train in a submerged tunnel, and the Centennial of Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers.

Tina’s company Halcyon Reflections preserves history in a variety of ways and is currently producing a commemorative CPO Logbook now available for preorder at

Episode 67: Jim Rambus

As we continue to celebrate the centennial of Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers we talk with Senior Chief Boatswain’s Mate Jim Rambus (Ret.), who tells the dangers of logistic runs to the shoals and reefs of the Great Lakes where manned lighthouses once stood, including a lesson in confidence for a new coxswain after swamping a 40 footer and the near loss of a crew when their boat’s engines died in icy waters, the dangers of lightship duty during hurricanes and heavy fog, commanding three boat stations as an enlisted Officer in Charge, a fatal snap back after the service’s boats first transitioned from manila to nylon towlines, the service’s move from Treasury to Transportation, and what it means to be a Chief Petty Officer. 

Episode 66: Adam Cravey

As we continue to celebrate the centennial of the Chief Petty Officer we bring you Chief Health Services Technician Adam Cravey (Ret.) who talks a Coast Guard Medal case that demanded he deploy into a raging sea as a boat swimmer to save the crew of a burning tug and barge, serving as an independent duty corpsman aboard a Coast Guard cutter, treating the most common complaints of patients visiting an underway sick bay, and coordinating the medical evacuations of several sick and injured crew members at sea. 

Episode 65: John Ostrowski

To celebrate the Centennial of Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers, whose rate was established for the service in May 1920, we’re releasing a series of episodes featuring veteran Chiefs on our Podcast and YouTube channel. Here is the first in that series in which retired Senior Chief Boatswains Mate Jon Ostrowski talks deploying for Operation Iraqi Freedom with a Reserve Port Security Unit, the centennial of Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers, the unique role of Chiefs in the service, leading the Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers Association (CPOA) at the national level, the volunteer work of the CPOA’s local chapters during the federal government shutdown and the COVID-19 pandemic, and his dramatic introduction to Coast Guard operations aboard his first cutter.

Learn more about the Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer’s Association at

Episode 64: Peter Eident Part II

Part II of II. Former Lieutenant Peter Eident talks surviving the capsizing and sinking of the USCGC Cuyahoga during a nighttime training cruise on the Chesapeake Bay and the legal and emotional aftermath stemming from the loss of eleven of her crew.

Learn more in Peter’s book “Bearing Drift”, available now at

Episode 63: Peter Eident

Part I of II. Former Lieutenant Peter Eident talks surviving the capsizing and sinking of the USCGC Cuyahoga during a nighttime training cruise on the Chesapeake Bay and the legal and emotional aftermath stemming from the loss of eleven of her crew.

Learn more in Peter’s book “Bearing Drift”, available now at

Episode 62: Dara O’Malley

BM1 Dara O’Malley, Surfman 111, tells of a dangerous nighttime escort across the Humbolt Bar, the capsizing and breakup of the involved cabin cruiser, and the efforts to rescue survivors from the surf that followed. He also talks what it takes to maintain boats and train crews to the levels needed for Coast Guard operations, and the responsibility of coxswains and surfmen not only to go out, but to bring their crews and those in peril back to shore.

Episode 61: Angel Hughes

LT Angel Hughes talks leading an aircrew on a challenging nighttime search for a distressed vessel and the aerial delivery of supplies to aid the rescue effort, flying in hurricane conditions, earning her wings on the HC-144 Casa Ocean Sentry, and performing the many missions of the Coast Guard from these fixed wing aircraft. She also tells of founding ‘Sisters of the Skies’, a non-profit whose mission is to mentor and aid children in pursuit of aviation careers.

Learn more at

Episode 60: Darin Bibeau

Former Boatswain’s Mate Second Class Darin Bibeau talks leading a cutter boat in the response to an offshore plane crash, running boats at station vacation in Burlington, Vermont, jumping the gunwales of go fasts to seize tons of narcotics with TACLET South, and how lessons from his service have influenced his business success. Darin also reveals details about his new book, “Back to Bulletproof: A Warriors Tactical Guide to Success” available now for pre-order on Amazon.

Learn more about Darin at

Episode 59: Cari Thomas

Rear Admiral Cari Thomas (Ret.) talks her first command as the CO of a 110 ft patrol boat, responding to a mass migration in the Florida Straits, leading recruit training at Cape May, commanding the 14th District, and her current work as the CEO of Coast Guard Mutual Assistance (CGMA).

Learn more and donate to CGMA now at

Episode 58: Thad Allen

23rd Commandant of the Coast Guard Thad Allen (Ret.) talks being trapped by fire in the radio room of his first cutter, responding to his first mass casualty event when a plane went down in the Florida Everglades, a surf rescue in blizzard conditions off the New Jersey coast, playing a leading role in the national response to 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, and the leadership lessons he considers most important for those who now serve. 

Episode 57: Mike Underwood

Episode 57: Retired Boatswain’s Mate First Class Mike Underwood talks leading a boat crew into 30 foot seas, 80 knot winds, and dense fog to rescue those aboard a burning tug and barge in a case that earned him the Coast Guard Medal, running jet drive lifeboats across the Chatham bar, and the leadership lessons gained from his time as command cadre.

Episode 56: Charles ‘Skip’ Bowen

10th Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Charles ‘Skip’ Bowen talks the capsize of a marijuana laden sailboat while under tow, the failure of his small boat’s engine during a rescue attempt in a fierce storm, saving the crew of his cutter’s small boat following a failed attempt to board a suspect vessel, and lessons learned from his time in command.

He also talks his new book ‘Breaching the Summit: Inspiring Leadership Lessons from Six Military Journeys to the Top

Episode 55: Albert ‘Bud’ Buechler

Captain Albert ‘Bud’ Buechler talks the heroic response of his cutter crew to the capsizing of an overloaded Haitian sailing freighter, the unique relationships between Chief Petty Officers, the deckplate and the wardroom, taking command of his first cutter, and the lessons learned while in commanding crews at sea.

Episode 54: Kevin Grant

Boatswain’s Mate Kevin Grant tells of his first assignment aboard a 378 High Endurance Cutter, responding to a devastating earthquake on Haiti and the potential mass migration in its aftermath, being recalled from a port call to interdict a drug sub in the Pacific, leading crews as a boat coxswain to rescue the crew of a foundering sailboat, and leading boarding teams over the gunwale to enforce laws at sea. He closes by sharing his own lessons learned on making the transition from active duty, from creating a financial safety net and finding a new career to paying for college and medical expenses. 

Episode 53: Russell Burress

Retired Chief Boatswain’s Mate Russell Burress tells making the decision to risk a boat in an attempt to save a life, serving on deck under the leadership of service legend BMCM Donald Horsley, setting a buoy to reopen a strategic port in the midst of a typhoon, towing a downed Coast Guard helicopter, and a tough decision during a mass rescue in the aftermath of a sudden thunderstorm. 

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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.