Videos: Today's Military
    Coast Guard

    Sailing Through the Storm(03:05)

    Petty Officer William Armstrong describes the intense training that goes into becoming a surfman for the Coast Guard. Coast Guard surfmen have a tough job: They drive boats in rough weather to rescue those in distress. For that reason, only the best trained Coast Guardsmen take on this responsibility.

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Speaker 1: Heavy weather surfmen are boat drivers that operate in adverse conditions. It's kind of the pinnacle of the boat driving profession within the Coast Guard. It's the highest degree of certification you can attain. You have to go into a surf zone, find and locate and then recover persons in the water.

There's a difference between what you can do with this boat and what you should do with this boat, and what makes you, as a surfman, is understanding the difference. The most important piece of equipment that you have on the boat is the crew that's riding with you. And in adverse conditions, you're to drive the boat in such a manner that you don't beat them up.

One of the most important things in regards to surfman is the way that it's passed down. The only way that you can get things signed off as far as for certification for surfman is by another surfman. There's not that many of them around. It's been passed down for close to 200 years. The only way that I got to where I'm at is not by particularly any great talent or skill that I have. It's just by the people that took the time to train me. It's extremely humbling, and it's extremely rewarding. I hate staying away from it all. I like to be in the mix. I love doing what we do, and I like to be around it.