Sunday, December 13, 2009

OS1 Stulce 13 Dec

So I promised that I would create one final blog prior to my departure from SHERMAN. Things have been very busy this last month so I will apologize for the tardiness.
A couple of items fresh off the press that come to mind are our recent trip back to Panama. For those of you that remember the first time we went to Panama we conducted a community relations project with a local orphanage. During our recent trip to Panama another good portion of the crew visited the orphanage. During this particular visit the kids were presented with presents in the form of soccer balls, soccer goals, and bicycles. This gift of giving started and was led by BM1 Jesse Duff. The kids went absolutely crazy over all of the presents and had an amazing time.
I personally made sure to take my time and stop by the house I went to the first visit and see a group of kids. I know what kind of environment these kids are growing up in now; however, I do not know what they have seen over the course of their lives. That being said, it gave me great pleasure to walk into the house and have them all surround me because they remembered me from the last time. I have done a lot of good volunteering over the course of my career but nothing has given me greater pleasure than the looks on their faces when I walked back in that house.
While I am on the topic of giving, SHERMAN has also recently conducted their yearly acceptance of CFC (Combined Federal Campaign) sheets. I am happy to announce that as of today they have already surpassed last years mark and collected over 17,000 dollars for local, national, and international charities. Well done, even in these trying times that a lot of people are facing we can still put something together for others.
So, let's talk about what we have been up to for minute as I am sure everyone back home wants to know about. I obviously cannot go into any great detail specifically but SHERMAN has been very busy. SHERMAN will leave this patrol with a combined seven cases completed. Due to the sensitive nature of these cases I don’t want to comment on the specifics of some of the more recent cases however I think it would be safe to say that at one point in time this cutter with the help of our aviation detachment was able to stop four vessels at once. In the world of operations that is a huge feat and everyone involved deserves a round of applause.
Alright, now I know there is going to be a lot of "oh man" and "say it isn’t so" but it is true what you hear about the current status of POD trivia. I am once again the leader. I will add that this is not by a huge margin however as the Captain himself is on my heels. POD trivia has been a huge part of my life the last three months and I have officially learned as of late that it takes 350-500 official licks to get to the center of a tootsie roll pop. Now, that wasn’t one of the questions but since we have been on this trivia binge lately a couple of us thought it would be fun to look up. In all seriousness though, thank you to ENS Brown for keeping the game real. What a fantastic way to pass the time underway.
In conclusion here are a couple of notated things:
1) Underway moustaches have been officially removed. Your loved ones will have absolutely no unwanted facial hair present when you get that first hug.
2) Your sons and daughters will more than likely be returning home to you for the holidays after being underway for three months, many of them for the first time.
This means you more than likely will have to correct their "Sailor Talk" at least more than once. Even possibly at the dinner table. I wanted to again thank everyone onboard for all of their hospitality. I couldn’t have asked for a better unit to serve with. As for the loved ones back home, be proud of what your loved ones do out here. I appreciate the comments on my previous blogs and I am glad they helped you throughout the process. I look forward to getting back to Anchorage as I am sure my crew up there does as well.

Good Luck to everyone and Happy Holidays.

GM3 Luke Milyard 12 Dec

Waking up every morning to a colder and colder sun rise means only one thing for the crew of SHERMAN, we are almost home. The anticipation grows everyday knowing that we are gaining closer every second to America and our loved ones. We have seen a lot during these three months of patrol but nothing looks better now then spending the holidays in port.
The Gunnery division has been working diligently in preparing for SHERMAN’s major ammunition offload in Seal Beach, CA. Knowing that this offload is the only event that stands in the way of home port the crew has been preparing to get this job done safely and quickly.
This evening flight deck movies were held for the crew (our underway movie theatre), and tomorrow afternoon we are looking forward to shooting skeet off of the flight deck. So even though our patrol is coming to a close our morale is staying high.
This in port is going to be a very busy one for the crew of SHERMAN with a full overhaul scheduled, and a lot of the crew leaving for “C” schools throughout the inport. I am looking forward to a vacation back home to the east coast to catch up with family and friends and see how much my nephew and niece have grown! Also like most of the crew I am looking forward to hitting the slopes in Tahoe. All in all this patrol has been a good experience for us all, although long it was very successful and we can feel good knowing we made a huge difference.

Friday, November 20, 2009

ENS Steph Wood 20 Nov

“The capital of Guatemala is Guatemala”-- the only nugget of information I retained from the grade school South American countries and capitals song. Guatemala was quite an experience. We had two options when we pulled in: go to an all inclusive resort or get on a bus to Antigua. From what I understand, we arrived in the great country of Guatemala the same week of the year as the rest of the world’s vacationers, either that or Soleil Pacifica was having a killer deal because the entire resort was booked solid. Awesome.
I figured that Antigua would be something like a city in the states, just closer to the equator. My speculations were entirely incorrect. I was struck by how cinematic it was. Street vendors peddled ponchos and jade to wandering tourists, while women dressed in homespun clothing walked the streets balancing large baskets of fruit or fabric on their heads. The roads were narrow cobblestone and the whole place smelled faintly of cigarettes and rain. I felt out of season in my shorts, t-shirt, and flip flops. What I needed was a small machete, Indiana Jones hat, cargo shorts, mid-shin white socks, and some variation of hiking boots. Despite the undiscovered and old world feel 720 did manage to locate one concession to modern day demands—Reilly’s Irish bar. If my estimates are correct, nearly 97% of the crew made it this place in the course of a two day port call. It was fabulous and ridiculous, to be certain. We only had two days to catch up on sleep and relax, but I can safely say spirits and morale have lifted significantly. After all, we are in the home stretch--32% to go.
Thanksgiving is coming up and from what I gather there will be a highly competitive, artists only, hand-turkey competition in addition to the traditional holiday feast. Crayons to the ready!

Friday, November 13, 2009

SN Jade Cude 13 November 09

After leaving Panama on the 25th of October, we went right into holiday routine. The crew was able to get some rest before starting up operations again. Most of the crew could be found in their racks sleeping since the trip to Panama was exciting enough to wear them out. SHERMAN has only been underway for a little while now and the watches and boat lowering evolutions (for us Seamen) continue to tire out the best of us. Seamen and the Boatswain Mates stand watch on the bridge of the cutter with the Officer of the Deck (OOD) and the Conning Officer. The Seamen rotate between standing lookout (looking for vessels), helm (steering the boat), and messenger (making pipes and routing chits).
On Halloween, after knock off ship’s work, pizza was served on the mess deck to get the night kicked off right. After dinner, we went trick-or-treating in the officer’s staterooms, followed by a costume contest. The best costume that got elected by the crew was a trio of old memories. OS2 Marenco, ET3 Sherman, and ET3 McCullough who dressed up as (in order) Mario, Luigi and Princess Toadstool won the contest by far. Everybody that participated had fun and we all got candy and ice cream!
About a week later, an e-mail went out to all hands that on Sunday, November 8th, morale boat rides would commence on the starboard boat deck. For about 3 hours, anybody who wanted to ride on the small boats, which we use on boardings, could come and enjoy the festivities. Wave after wave of shipmates went out over the horizon and came back with plenty of smiles to go around. Going 15 knots and flying over swells in the open ocean can make anyone happy. Morale definitely rose and gave everyone that little extra push to make the following weeks more enjoyable.
SHERMAN pulled into Costa Rica today, November 10th, to receive fuel and supplies only to pull back out around 2000 the same night. Loading up on everything we need to sail again, SHERMAN is back to patrolling the calm seas off Central America, saving lives and keeping the Pacific drug-free.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

5 November 2009

Amazing how fast these patrols go by. The last few weeks have been filled with the usual underway fun. There has been a certain computer guy that has brought back the "fist pump" from way back in the day as the new method for displaying absolute awesomeness. Nevertheless it has been fun to watch. SHERMAN has been patrolling diligently throughout the last couple weeks. Work hours have been long and job lists have been cleared.

Recently we had a port call in Panama. I had never been to Panama before this time however, I must say I enjoyed it thoroughly. There is nothing easier to deal with than a city with gigantic malls and lots of shopping. Even better than that, they use American currency. I managed to get some great food from Panama and the hotels there were definitely top notch. The second afternoon about 30 members of SHERMAN took a time out and offered assistance at Aldeas Infantiles SOS, an orphanage located outside of Panama City. We helped around the orphanage with painting and outdoor maintenance of this peaceful haven. After the work was completed we were treated with lunch provided by the mother and children of each house. Each home unfortunately houses about nine children. I watched them as they waited for me to finish my lunch in anticipation of the ride on the back they were all waiting for. It was a real pleasure to be able to bring happiness to those children even if just for one afternoon.

On the third and final day I found myself ultimate relaxation with a fellow first-class BM of all things. We went to a golf course called The Summit. We started off the beautiful morning with breakfast at the clubhouse followed by a half hour at the driving range to shake off some of the rust from not playing for a year and a half. All I have to say, is I do not think I hit the rust off. Both of us having not played in some time suffered the same fate. We found ourselves chasing balls and coming nowhere near either of our handicaps. Nevertheless, there was sunburn involved on my account. The pool followed on the seventh floor of the Veneto hotel and mixed in with the relatively cloudy day and nice party music in the background was the perfect ending to a relaxing port call.

Now in closing I want to mention a couple of items that you can take for what they are worth but I think I have learned valuable lessons from.

Number One: If you are not really capable of growing a mustache you probably should not try to compete with the guys that are capable of growing them. I myself have not partaken in this underway tradition, but I have seen many good men suffer because the attempt was made. I also am starting to think if you want to command a cutter in the Coast Guard, the ability to grow a moustache is a must. This of course is just an observation.

Number Two: Never think as a TAD guy onboard a vessel that you are going to take out the CO and BMC when it comes to P.O.D Trivia time. I was approached at a time that I will not say and was told that I could not be allowed to be in first place. My response time to trivia has never been the same.

Well I think this should do it for a little while. I wish everyone ashore the best, especially my family and everyone's family onboard SHERMAN.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

23 October 2009

Since SHERMAN left her homeport on the 22nd of September, she has been plying the waters of the Eastern Pacific, enforcing maritime law and ensuring safety of life at sea. Her crew is salty. Their skins are tanned an equatorial shade of brown and mustaches grown jungle thick. Under the command of new CO, CAPT Haycock, SHERMAN has found success in the first month of the patrol.

Just after departing San Diego, SHERMAN steamed south to intercept a suspect vessel. Though it did not have contraband on board, the intelligence gained from the boarding resulted in other busts in the Eastern Pacific. After skipping the first port call due to operational needs, the crew was rewarded with a stop in a spring break hotspot Acapulco, Mexico. Even though it was not Spring Break, SHERMAN’s crew had a relaxing time, embarked a few crew members, and geared up for the next stint at sea. The next day SHERMAN took on a group of detainees, seized cocaine, and took a small boat in tow from the U.S. Navy. Less than a week later they were transferred to another ship and SHERMAN returned to normal operations. The crew has been enjoying “steel beach” on Sundays, workouts on the flight deck at sunset, and watching marine life. Whales, dolphins, sea turtles, sting rays, and sportfish provide daily entertainment. An extended family of swallows has even taken roost on the bridge wing.

As the 720 chases an endless summer between the hemispheres, we would like to extend our congratulations to the newborn members of the SHERMAN family as well as the newlyweds. All our best to our families at home, our heads and hearts remain with you always. Please check back soon for another update on the whereabouts and activities of cutter SHERMAN.