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    Coast Guard

    A Seaman’s Day(03:08)

    Seaman Tess Lee has been in the Coast Guard for only a few months, and she’s already helping save lives. Unlike other Services, women are eligible for all Coast Guard positions.

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Seaman Tess Lee: My name's Tess Lee. I'm from Clallam, Wash. I'm stationed here in Hawaii, Coast Guard Cutter Ahi. I've been here for about three months, and the Coast Guard for a total of about five months.

It happened about a month, maybe a month and a half after we got here. It was about 4:00 in the morning. We got a call, went out. It was along Kaneohe Bay, and it was a boat that had just — they had stayed out overnight, lost fuel — or ran out of fuel — and we took the small boat out and made sure everyone was okay, brought people on board. I wasn't expecting to be that involved in something. I just kind of thought we, kind of, you know, would be in the background learning a little bit and just be, you know, training. And we pretty much got thrown out right in the middle of it, I mean, which is a really good experience. I mean, it's definitely hands-on, and it helps out a lot. It made me feel good in a lot of ways. I was kind of excited because it was our first real case we'd been on. It made me feel good that we could go out there and help, and you know, make people aware that we're around, and you know, if they ever need help, we're right there.

The best thing is you're around people. You're around family pretty much. Everyone knows their role, everyone knows their part, just no one really gets mad at each other, everyone seems to get along really well. I like it a lot. I made a lot of new friends here. Everyone here kind of welcomed myself and the fireman that came with me and very quickly.

As an on rate, I basically just go by what my department heads tell me what to do when it comes. You know, mooring up, usually the line that I'm on is line three. We do maintenance. We do painting, deck work, just kind of basic stuff like that. When we first got here, it was definitely a lot harder because I didn't know what to expect, but the hardest part was getting all of our qualifications done, making sure we had everything done and in on time. Underway, we have to do the same thing. You know, we have our rotations and everything and then, still, we have underway sign offs that we have to get done. That was actually pretty easy because when we were, we were actually underway at the time when I was able to get all those done. So that was pretty good.

I love the small boat. I love getting on. Any time to get on there I can, or I will. I just like how it runs. I just, I've always been interested in smaller boats. I was actually more nervous than anything to come here once I found out that it was going to be — one, it was going to be overseas, so I was going to be away from family. That is a big deal. I was scared that it was going to be a lot like boot camp where I was going to have people in my face all the time, even though it's the exact opposite of that. But it's just more nerve-racking than anything not knowing what to expect. You know, when you get to your first unit, they're not going to scream at you. They're not going to treat you like, you know, like your company commanders would when you're in boot camp. It's actually, you enjoy your time that you've got because it's worth it.

A Seaman’s Day | Today's Military


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