JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. –
JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Comradery and fellowship flowed between a group of 15 former Coast Guard commanders and Coast Guard Sector Charleston Guardsmen as they toured Charleston Harbor Nov. 7, 2018, in Charleston, S.C. aboard U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Cormorant, an 87-foot patrol boat stationed here.
The U.S. Coast Guard Academy class of 1965 have a unique bond that runs deep in their hearts and even deeper within American history. They patrolled the coasts of Vietnam from the Demilitarized Zone to the country’s Southern Peninsula during one of the deadliest conflicts in American history 50 years ago.
“Events like today’s remind me of the responsibility that I have as a commander and what the Vietnam veterans had to face,” said Lt. j.g. Patrick O’Shaughnessy, USCGC Cormorant commander. “It’s hard to place myself in that position, but being able to allow these gentlemen the opportunity to reminisce is the least we could do for them. It’s humbling to carry the torch of legacy and responsibility. We have a duty to the crews of the past, present and future.”
As the boat toured the historic Charleston Harbor, a boat similar to the ones each of the former Guardsmen commanded, the class of 1965 and the crew of USCGC Cormorant exchanged stories and laughs. It wasn’t a rarity to catch one of the veterans reflecting during a part of the tour.
“It was great to talk with today’s crew and hear how they’re trained,” said Bill Carr, USCGA class of 1965 alumnus. “Seeing today’s crew made me confident in today’s forces. They seemed very well prepared and reminded me a lot of my crew back then. Any of the young men I met today could be part of my crew. They had a great devotion to duty. I truly believe that if these guys found themselves in the wrong place at the right time, they could accomplish the mission.”
Although the USCG Sector Charleston’s main mission is search and rescue, they recognize the importance of remaining prepared and trained for any situation. Like the class of 1965 did, the crew of USCGC Cormorant is willing to answer the call of duty at a moment’s notice.
“Hearing stories from the veterans about Vietnam as a Coast Guardsmen reminded me and my crew of the responsibilities we may have to face and remain prepared for,” said O’Shaughnessy.
The visit happened 50 years after the class of 1965’s valor-filled tour of duty and almost 100 years, to the day, of the end of World War I. Remembering those who served before, and the ones who made the ultimate sacrifice is one of the most rewarding components of a service member’s career according to Walter Viglienzone, USCGA class of 1965 alumnus.
“Visit the Arlington National Cemetery if you get a chance, visit the Vietnam War Memorial, but most importantly, visit a veteran’s grave … and say their name,” said Viglienzone. “As long as we say their name, they will never be forgotten.”