11 Nov Thank You Veterans!
On this Veteran’s Day we take time to be grateful for those who have served in the military over the years to provide us with the freedom we enjoy every day!
The owner and founder of The VanDyke Group is a veteran and I had time to sit and talk to him about his experiences.
Dick Van Dyke served in the Coast Guard from 1966-1970. I asked him “Why the Coast Guard?”
Dick didn’t care for high school too much and didn’t want to go on to college, but he did have an adventurous spirit and wanted to get out of town, which was Sheldon, IA. He was intrigued by the idea of moving somewhere, so, at 18 years old he moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan with a friend. The city of Grand Haven had their annual Coast Guard Festival which Dick happened to attend. It was at the festival he made the decision to enlist in the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard was a 4-year commitment but Dick was fine with that.
His 4-year commitment was divided into 3 parts; 1 year of training on the east coast, 2 years serving aboard a ship in Hawaii and Japan, 1 year in Missouri.
Dick was trained in damage controllment. This consisted of carpentry, plumbing and training to be a fireman. He was placed on this course of training because when asked what his favorite class in high school was he responded, “shop class.”
Finishing his training in the top of his class, he was able to choose where in the world he wanted to be stationed. Very wisely Dick chose Hawaii. Dick’s ship, the USCGS Bering Strait, would run up and down the west coast serving other boats in distress with search and rescue missions. They also collected weather and oceanography information while traveling between Hawaii and Japan. His ship would spend a month at sea and a month in port, switching between Japan and Hawaii.
While Dick did not see any combat they always needed to be armed and prepared especially when approaching unknown vessels. One memory Dick told me about was spending time on Midway Island in the Pacific Ocean. It had been hit by a hurricane and they assisted with cleanup of the military base and surrounding areas.
His last year of service was spent in Missouri. Dick and a small group of guys worked on a buoy tender up and down the Missouri River where they would set and reset buoys and bank lights for ships.
Dick said “The Coast Guard was a very positive experience for me. I learned a ton of skills at a young age, like welding and plumbing, but more importantly social and leadership skills. I can’t remember anything negative about the Coast Guard.”
Each Veteran’s role is so important to us as a nation. We thank Dick and so many other Veterans today for their willingness to serve our country!
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