1 April, 2001
Tidbit of History
During World War I (U.S. involvement spanning 1916-1918), there were 290 active lifeboat stations. In addition, fifteen cruising cutters patrolled off the coast. Overseas, six cutters patrolled between Gibraltar and England. Near the end of the war, the Tampa was presumably struck by a torpedo and was lost with all hands. During this war the Coast Guard had a higher percentage of personnel killed in action than any other service. It was in this same period that Coast Guard aviation was born. Lieutenant E. F. Stone, USCG, one of several early Coast Guard flyers, was copilot on the Navy NC-4 flying the first aircraft to cross the Atlantic.
After the war the job of enforcing the Eighteenth Amendment or Volstead (Prohibition) at sea was given to the Coast Guard. This anti-smuggling duty required considerable growth in numbers of both ships and aircraft. Prior to WWI, extensive scouting flights had met with such success that Congress had authorized the establishment of ten Coast Guard air stations. The war stopped this development, but because of the high priority of the Volstead Act, the growth of aviation continued.
Saturday at midnight was the advancing of the clocks for Daylight Savings time.
I began the day by completing my packing and preparing to leave the ship. I got all my bags to the hanger before lunch. The morning was spent doing miscellaneous tasks. After lunch, we prepared for departure. Lots of hugs and pictures were taken. We dressed in our flight suits and headed for the helo. I wore light clothes under the suit due to the fact that we would be changing out of our flight gear on the helicopter. It was extremely windy and the helo's won't fly (unless it's an emergency) it the winds are greater than 40 knots. We were bordering on that wind speed. The ship was repositioned and stopped in preparation for our departure. Two helos left within fifteen minutes of each other.
The flight over to St. Lawrence Island was beautiful. It was sunny and clear. The ice had several open areas where the ice had moved due to the current and wind. As we looked in the distance, a beautiful mountain was in view containing a small spit to the left of the mountain. Many houses lined the area. When we arrived on the island, four wheelers and snow machines greeted us. They arrived from all angles, as there are no roads. In fact, the second helo had to dodge a few four wheelers near the runway. One of the teachers and the principal came to welcome us. The principal had a trailer attached to the back of his four wheeler, which worked nice for carrying our bags. We had a brisk ride on the back of the four wheelers to the school where we put together our plans for the remainder of the day. After visiting and warming up with a cup of coffee, Gay left in search of room accommodations.
The house belongs to the former mayor's granddaughter. It is complete with heat, running water, electricity, and a phone. What more could anyone need! The house was built during W.W.II and the weather bureau was originally stationed in the house. During W.W.II Russia was the ally and they were fighting on the eastern front. American planes would fly to Fairbanks and then over to Russia. The house was used to help determine the weather. It was important to have someone out on the spit that could stay abreast to weather conditions.
Many of the teachers live together in the old school. This was a neat concept. It lends a whole new meaning to the idea children have that the teacher lives at school! Instead of classrooms, each room has been converted into an apartment. One of the teachers invited us to dinner. We were introduced to many teachers in the building and treated to a wonderful salmon dinner prepared by two of the teachers. After a time of visiting, we headed back to our house. The sunset at 11:00 p.m. was beautiful over the ocean. I didn't have my camera with me unfortunately.
It is very cold here. I was told that it was -45 or so. It felt much colder than that to me. It definitely was the coldest day I have experienced so far. The main difference in temperature between here and the ship was the extreme winds. It was really cool on the four wheelers.
After a little visiting, we settled down for the night.
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