Why I serve: ME1 Jerry McAnally

Today we celebrate the moment our founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence; the birth of our nation. Generations of Americans have served our nation since, safeguarding the liberties our founding fathers fought to give us. In honor of Independence Day, we asked a Coast Guardsman what it means to serve. Below is his personal account. Be sure to visit us next month as we share more essays of what it means to serve to commemorate the U.S. Coast Guard’s birthday, Aug. 4, 1790.

U.S. Coast Guard photo.

U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Written By Petty Officer 1st Class Jerry McAnally.

“Through wind and rain we heed the call.
Fighting ready, we are standing tall.
We are marching forward pride and fist,
We are Bravo 156 Hoorah!”

I often reflect about the days, years and decade that has passed since I stood in formation on the graduation parade field in Cape May, N.J. I didn’t know what to expect after boot camp, only that I survived, graduated top of my company and was departing to my first unit of Coast Guard Station Atlantic City. Station A/C, as it is commonly referred to, is a rescue boat station where some of the finest people I’ve ever had the honor of working with showed me what it means to serve. They used words like commitment, diligence and vigilance. In Atlantic City, I learned how to drive rescue boats, educate the boating public and perform as an emergency medical technician.

With those life lessons learned, I departed for the cutter Sawfish. Sawfish is an 87-foot coastal patrol boat that conducts search and rescue and enforces U.S. law in the Florida Straits. Under the tutelage of equally fine people, I learned how to navigate a ship, combat a fire and hone my craft. Again, my shipmates echoed the lessons I previously learned; commitment, diligence and vigilance.

After departing the Sawfish, I was assigned to Coast Guard Station Key West where I intercepted human trafficking speedboats, enhanced my tactical boat driving skill and learned the importance of working with other agencies. From Key West, I went to a larger patrol boat operating in the North Arabian Gulf where I had the privilege of working with numerous coalition forces and sharing the knowledge I had gained with international sailors.

A year later I found myself as the executive petty officer of the cutter Alligator, homeported in St. Petersburg, Fla. As second in command, I had the unique opportunity to share the lessons I’d learned at my previous units with my new shipmates. I reinforced those lessons with words like commitment, diligence and vigilance. A Coast Guardsman needs to have the desire to help others. The Coast Guardsman ensures they always perform at a professional level so others can depend on them; they maintain a level of readiness to respond to any call for assistance.

Each unit I’ve served at has been a stepping stone in my professional career. I’ve been a follower, a leader and a shipmate. I am a Coast Guardsman. I am committed to helping those in need. I maintain a level of professionalism so that I am dependable. I am always ready to answer any call.

And as I look towards the horizon, I take comfort in knowing the graduation parade field floods our service with Coast Guardsmen eager to learn what it means to serve. The Coast Guardsman is a shipmate who is valued by our nation. The Coast Guardsman serves the people of the United States and others in need, as do I.

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