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The Dark Side

Authors Note (November 2014):  I have been retired from the U. S. Coast Guard now for over five years.  I decided it was time to review the essays I wrote some time ago regarding "dark" topics.  I actually considered just eliminating the whole section since while I have received many positive comments (along with some great stories that people shared with me), I have also received a few rather negative comments that somehow sharing my experiences is like giving the Coast Guard a black eye.  After considerable thought, I have decided to leave everything up.  Denying the past smacks of revisionist history.  If we don't know what perhaps some of our past mistakes were how can we be expected to learn from them?  I have reviewed all the essays and did make some small edits, mostly correcting typos and grammar as necessary.

I used the term "The Dark Side" somewhat as a bit of a hook to get people to actually click on the tab.  There are actually two "Dark Sides".  The first involves the service as a whole.  Things like alcohol use and the whole alcohol culture, drug use and drug testing, the complete lack of accountability in some circles and suicide are some of what I consider the "darker" topics. 

The other "Dark Side" involves people.  During my 26 years in the Coast Guard, I can honestly say that 99.9% of the people I met were great people who truly subscribed to the core values of the Coast Guard (Honor, Respect and Devotion to Duty).  I love telling stories about people who met and exceeded the standard.  Issuing awards to deserving people was probably my favorite activity when I was a Commanding Officer.  Of course, that 0.1% certainly make better stories.  Some of the people who "went over to the dark side" didn't quite make and paid the price for their actions.  On the other hand, some operators got away with some serious crap for long periods of time with little to no consequence.  I haven't shared any of these stories yet, but when I do I hope you enjoy some of these stories and if you don't believe it, just consider that if anything I am watering down the story to make it acceptable for publishing.  Sorry, I won't be disclosing names or even units in some cases but if you think you're reading about yourself you probably are.
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