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They managed to find some barely acceptable rooms in one of the two, two-star hotels in Trebes. They eagerly looked forward to getting onto their boat and out onto the canal. You would be surprised how small a forty-foot boat can be when you try to find places to store the luggage of four adults. If anyone tries following in our footsteps, please rent a fifty-foot boat. Early the next morning, they got underway on the beautiful, Sycamore-lined Midi Canal. That was before their bodies had started giving out and long before the blight had hit all of the Sycamores along the Midi.


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They started off sailing down stream which was good. Unfortunately their destination, Narbonne, was much closer to sea level than Trebes. That meant locks, lots and lots of locks. The wives were not happy with their assignment as line handlers. I would hop on and off the boat and they simply had to hand me a line. This failed to impress them.

Their unhappiness was compounded, when the lock we were approaching at the end of the first day was closed for the night. We had to tie up to the bank upstream of the lock. We were in the middle of nowhere. It was a good thing we had some food aboard. Warm and happy after a nice meal, they returned to their boat. This caused the line handlers to mutiny and the boat drivers to concede.

We turned the boat in several days early, which allowed us to spend five glorious days in Bordeaux. It was much better than staying on a leaky small boat with grumpy line handlers! It was a noticeable improvement, with a lovely stateroom, excellent food and fine wine. And, best of all, Carolyn did not have to risk life and limb handling the lines! Carolyn also has a new standard. She refuses to go anywhere that the accommodations are not as nice as at home.

It was a well-deserved recognition for all his volunteer work. Last year Dick Matheson and Carol embarked on a grand eight-week European adventure. They started out by flying to New York City, where they spent the night in Brooklyn. We went out and walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. We were rewarded with a great view of Manhattan.

You should put that on your bucket list! We were treated to several great lecturers and awesome nightly entertainment. The food was great and we met some lovely table mates. We did dress more formally than on other cruises. We visited a sheep farm to watch herding dogs being trained. We loved that. We spent a night and a day in scenic Killarney. We listened to Irish ballads and watched Irish Dancers in Dublin. They also found out why Ireland is called the Emerald Isle. It is because of the rain, lots and lots of rain. After Ireland they made a quick trip through Wales.

They stayed overnight in Cardiff, the capital, and found it to be a really lovely city. We did the normal tourist things and took a couple of side trips. They spent a day with Henry the Eighth, at his castle on the outskirts of London. They had lunch on the rooftop of Selfridges Department Store, with its lovely view of the city. When the time came for them to leave, they had a driver take them back to South Hampton. They stayed a couple of days in South Hampton, before boarding a ship for home.

We had great weather to watch the show from the VIP tent, in the center of the beach, with more than a hundred real VIPs. And now I have a request to make of the Classmates. I am not getting any photos to include with the Notes. With digital photos that can be sent by e-mail, it should be easy to send me some photos.

When you send in photos, and I hope you do, please include a caption. Pete Beach, FL Ph: As most of you know, Laura died on September 15, after a courageous fight of more than 18 month against Stage Four Kidney cancer. We had been married 52 wonderful years raising four children and watching our three sons and our daughter produce 16 grandchildren. I was sure that I would never again have a relationship with a woman.

But, just as I was sure that my life would never be as good after I was medically retired in , God proved me wrong. After many months of pestering by an Anglican Priest friend - e. I joined twenty some people, mostly friends from my church, St. Michaels Anglican, on an 8-day cruise from Lisbon to Portsmouth.

On the 4th day of the cruise a couple I know well invited me to join them for dinner on the ship. They also invited another friend of theirs to join them. Karyn Lee, a Charleston native whose husband had died several years before, was seated next to me. We soon found that we lived about 4 miles apart, that she and her late husband, Dennis, and Laura and I had attended many of the same weddings and community events but had not been introduced by any of the dozens of mutual friends nor met accidentally.

When we returned to Charleston I waited a while and then asked her to dinner to thank her for a wonderful book she had given me after we met on the ship. When my good left eye was operated on at Walter Reed AMC in , the surgeons told me that they could do the operation 3 times and I just had l and each would last 7 to 10 years. That meant that I would be blind between ages 56 and I was told I was one in a million, likely a gene variant. It has been nearly 45 years since the operation and I have not had another operation and still see well enough with my left eye to drive a car.

The doctors again say I am one in a million - i. Don Hoffer, reports that he and Pat are great-grandparents for the first time. Following his retirement in , Greg worked in real estate sales and management. Greg is survived by Ellie and their five children. Our deepest condolences to Ellie and her family. On a lighter note, Bob and Donna Burt are back at home 1, in Carmel, California, after their second summer spent at home 2, in Essex, Connecticut. We had a great time with some sailing with the Ingalls, a little golf, and visiting with Millers and Cliff Spelman and some of the other folks that were at Homecoming.

Too bad we lost the game. Fall colors were a little dull this year due to an unusually warm fall and a couple of leftover blows from hurricanes, but still pretty. We got together for a mini-reunion with Ingalls, Millers and Jan Long, who managed to perch for a bit from his world travels. Here is a picture of us at our place in Essex. Not too bad for a bunch of geezers.

Next time you see Jan, please find out why we have heard nothing from him about his world travels. There were five of us, and we sailed in formation across the Pacific to the Philippines before splitting up to take our stations off the Vietnam coast. After that, replacement cutters came over individually. Operating as a unit in the 7th Fleet was interesting and challenging.

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No crewmembers rotated off the ship during the entire deployment, so we got really good at our jobs. It was a unique experience, to which others would attest. We hear that Ann can confirm your absence, having held down the fort by herself for a year with two small, rambunctious boys. Air quality toxic. Much cleanup but no fire damage. The immediate threat of the Thomas Fire is no longer. There appears to be a second branch of this fire burning in the back country.

Inaccessible as it is, the fire crews generally let the burn continue until the fire approaches a pre-determined defense perimeter which is being constructed. Usually, the foundation of the perimeter is a large firebreak where fire equipment can be staged. We should have results in 24 to 48 hours depending on the wind direction and speed. Thank you for your concern. May have to evacuate again but the probability is low. Semper Paratus. Fire had been fanned by wind. All bets are off the table. All safe. Off limits Area. Damage to the area is supposed to be little but unconfirmed.

Things have changed overnight. Wind picked up and forced immediate evac. In town at Best Western Hotel. Thanks for your concerns. All is OK with family. The [status of the] Shepard Mesa property is unknown at this time. Scuttlebutt says that the Mesa is OK. No houses lost. We have experienced two mandatory evacs already, not hoping for a third. No damage to home or property.

Luckier than many. Cherimoya and Avocado crop suffered somewhat but that only reinforced my admiration for those who rely on farming for a livelihood. There has not been any rain measuring more than 0. Montecito, just a few miles to the west, was plagued with torrential rains and post-wildfire mudslides, killing more than 20 and closing a long stretch of USI0I, the main arterial.

An email to Tom on a Tuesday went unanswered until Friday. All is OK. The Freeway situation is still up in the air. Maybe into next week. No burn no water damage. Good luck with your cleanup. Colleen and I took a road trip to Canada the first week of October. Perhaps Collin inherited some of my soccer skills. The weather was perfect, 70 degrees. However, MIT won a close football game.

Class Notes

I take the ferry from New London to eastern Long Island to visit her. Her love is music. She has sung in church choirs since age 13 and she gives voice lessons and takes group opera lessons. Congratulations on your reconnect, and thanks for the photo. We wish you all the best in the New Year. And the beat goes on Mass on Christmas Eve this year.

Neither had any idea they would be at the same church. See the nice picture of them. Joe Ponti sent a short note. Sorely missed were Larry Merlino and Dave Sandell who were off to greater heights like attending a Trump rally and other great causes. We were all surprised by this kind gesture! Plans are underway for our spring sojourn with a location T. For someone who has moved only four times in 53 years, we found that moving from Hawaii to Arizona to be more challenging that we thought! However we do love it here and hope that you all have our new email address.

Our kids and grandkids are doing well. He hopes to get a rowing scholarship. Josephine is 13 going on 21, and is an amazing artist and gymnast. We are enjoying getting to know the southwest and making new friends here in Pebble Creek where Danielle has discovered pottery making and Jim participates in the HOA and we both take advantage of the swimming facilities here.

So far we have not dared approach the pickle ball courts Watching them play, Jim noticed that none of them seem very happy! On the way home we departed Seattle on the ferry and about five minutes out, the ferry came to a stop. A woman had jumped off the upper deck and the ferry lowered a small boat to retrieve her. Caroline migrated to the scene since she has had much ER experience. When a crew member asked her if she was a doctor, she replied no but I am a PA. She said come, and Caroline jumped right in once they got her back aboard.

There were other medical personnel there as well so it was a team effort. The lady did survive mainly due to the quick work of the ferry crew, but the medical assistance helped a lot. They backed the ferry back to the slip where the aid car was waiting and off the survivor went.

What a way to start a career as a PA! During the visit, we noticed that the benches in the park and near the columbarium were pretty shabby. As old CG facilities engineers, we tend to notice these things. We expressed our concerns to the Alumni Association and suggested that they be replaced and offered to help support the project financially. Burkhart ret. Beginning with the Blands, Judy has published her fifth novel, Journey to Redemption, which is the third in her WWII historical fiction series available in paperback and on Kindle.

The couple continued their annual visit to Germany last year, where they visit people and places associated with family lineage. They visited the kids in Hawaii, the Everglades, Mexico, and California. Our eternal thanks remains to the Supercouple for continuing to make possible the usual highlight of our reunion at the Masons Island Yacht Club.

COM] Road trips for the Archers as well. Then an unscheduled trip to Tennessee with new road pals from Florida as they fled hurricane Irma which then changed course ; the eye passed over them in their inland sanctuary. One important take-away hint from that trip: never, and I mean never, travel on I Jacksonville FL mikeburdianhomes gmail.

Bob Leggett reports that there is continuing interest in the book that he authored U. The single exception was the USCG!! He tells a story about each one; 2nd book: Icebreaking Alaska which is a historical look at cities and events in Alaska, Coast Guard missions there and the change in emphasis due to warming.

I am sure there are other authors in our class. Any other literary giants out there???? Steve has been invited to give his speech on the CG in Vietnam for the third time in so many months , this time to the Seattle Reserve Officers Association. As some of you know, Steve has given presentations on Viet Nam on many occasions and to many groups not only in the Seattle area but also in the Washington D. His presentation is popular to the point where Steve has a power point presentation that he uses sprinkled with the usual Steve Ulmer wit.

Weighing Anchor Again. Live vicariously while learning some history about all the fabulous places they visit. Dave Young is on another trip. He also claims the scarf he is wearing in the photo was chosen because it is Coast Guard Blue. Who are we to doubt that? Dick and Darleen Healing dropped by in December and Dennis organized a lunch. Good food and great company! Sun City Center is a very well organized facility; and life there is similar to being on a cruise ship that never leaves the dock!

Nice going Jerry. A brief word on the Alexander Hamilton Monument Project. We are progressing but working out some issues. Ed DeMuzzio and Dave Andrews are working tirelessly steering the committee and the vendors through some minefields that we have before us. I will send a separate note on this to all the class very shortly. Have patience with us. I hope you all have given Jeff Hartman your input on likes and dislikes for our 55th. Finally, keep Dave Zwick and Bill Waff in your prayers and anyone else you know who needs it. Dennis Brady will have the next column. Send him updates you want published and accompanying photos.

We all would love to hear from everyone in the class. Be well. Wilkins December 12, Sadly, I begin by noting that a classmate has passed away. As you are likely aware from prior notifications, Bill Wilkins died on December 12, A Memorial Service was held in Westlake, on January 6. The congregation sang the Coast Guard Hymn. Bill was then interred in the church columbarium. Thanks Jerry for that summary. Bill served 30 years in the Coast Guard, commanding five cutters, including a patrol boat in Vietnam combat operations.

Retiring in l to his Ohio home, Bill continued his public service as the Director of the Board of Elections for Cuyahoga County, and served in various volunteer positions for local church organizations and his high school alumni association. We classmates who knew Bill well, either as cadets, on active duty, or in retirement, remember him as a solid, reliable individual of the highest integrity I was First Battalion. Bill was Second Battalion. Bill played football. I played baseball. He was at the top of the class academically. I never served with Bill either. Libby and I met Sharron and Bill thirty years after graduation, on one of our post-reunion cruises.

Libby and I were ballroom dancers, as were they. We spent many long hours on the dance floor on that and many later cruises. I came to know a great classmate, a gentleman, a family man and a friend. Libby and I will cherish our memories of Bill and wish Sharron our very best. Bill was a really good CO - set a very strong example for the entire crew. In other news, I received input from Gordon Piche and Pete Heistand at the deadline for the previous column, and due to space limitations, chose to defer their input until this issue.

Well, I had to answer the call from my cadet! I drove to CGA on Friday the 10th, arriving midday. I met for awhile with Rachel to plan our weekend. I later joined the other former football players to watch practice, then attend an Alumni Center reception. There I met up with Billy Thompson, the only other classmate there. Saturday began with a pre-game tailgate, followed by the football game against Merchant Marine. At halftime CGA honored Vietnam-era veterans, with the Commandant and Superintendent awarding 32 of us a commemorative pin.

Looking good! You too, Pete. In late November, the DC Region lunch bunch, instituted by Paul Potter, had their third luncheon, this time at a fine seafood restaurant in Galesville, Maryland. Leo and Martie Black hosted both pre- and post-lunch gatherings at their beautiful waterfront home just a few hundred yards down the road. The major portion of our 50th Reunion gift to the Academy was the establishment of an endowment for conducting such annual gatherings. An article about the workshop should appear elsewhere in this Bulletin issue.

Steve Plusch sent in the following. We visited the Magnolia and Middleton Plantations, did a coach and walking tour of the Charleston area, and visited the only tea plantation in North America. Museums and an evening concert rounded out our visit. The history of Charleston and the Low Country is fascinating. Their perspective on the history of the Civil War is quite different from what we learned in school on the West Coast. In the last issue, I included a brief biography of Jack Estes Thanks again to Dick Waterman for initiating this effort.

I then transferred to London for four years, changing jobs midway through, but remaining with marine transportation. Next up was Denver for another four years. I then changed companies to Koch Industries in Wichita, still in marine transportation. I spent six years with Koch, then started my own petroleum transportation consulting company. I have five grown children and six grandchildren. Ruth went to heaven in We were married 52 years. Thanks for all the input Surfing past Cu Lao Re islands.. Kept waking up due to odd rolls; felt like we were being caught in surf and being beached or bottomed.

Lloyd sent his handwritten diary of that day. Included are a chart and a newspaper article. They saved two men off a sinking barge being towed that immediately sank when Randy asked them what help they needed and the guy turned off his P pump to better hear what Randy was saying. He was not sure if he was on patrol out on the islands or in port on Bravo status.

How about the rest of you? Where were you on December I, ? A reading of that report might take one back to those early and anxious days of qualifying as deck watch officer. Quite interesting. For instance; lead line reports from the bow; redundant and low-value lookout reports; permission to open the hatch to dry stores; etc. He should be facing a court martial.

I had a strong response and a number of conversations. Surprisingly, a bunch of people called or emailed to say Happy Birthday. That would make it more likely that people would reconnect with classmates on or near their birthdays. The next thing is Dick Manning voluntarily creates the master list that is sorted chronologically by birthday throughout the year. A final list will be included with the April Class Notes and can also be found on the Class webpage.

Feldman documenting his recent funeral and much of his USCG life. One of the slides I assembled used a photo from the Tide Rips plus some information from other sources The photo was taken on January 20th some 57 years ago. Linda Spade sent a note that she had purchased a new home in Bradenton, Florida. She said there were very proud emotions surrounding Zach. Sure would be nice to have Dave still around to give him a good pat on the back.

Bill and Lu were visiting several days with Darvy and Dick Manning had just arrived for his annual pilgrimage. Organized and lively conversation had Les right in the middle as usual - stories unlimited. So great to see Les so vibrant and sharp. He invited classmates to come visit, but so far no one has said yes. We sang Christmas carols with the residents off key, of course and gave out 40 white elephant re-gifted gifts to those that endured our singing. Then we went room to room and gave out goodie filled Christmas stockings to everyone Great fun, actually, and certainly brought home the spirit of the holidays.

Also from Jack - My wife Hillary and I promised to go camping with two of our grand-daughters this year. We put the tent in our living room with a wood stove campfire and tree Christmas next to it and best of all.. We both slept in the tent with them all night. Great Fun!!! No fireworks but a fun and quiet celebration. They have a beautiful home there on a golf course. We were able to enjoy a Gulf Coast boiled dinner with shrimp, spicy sausage, corn and potatoes, all well-seasoned. The hip replacement itself was good, and I had just a few minor complications.

Then just before Thanksgiving 8 weeks after the surgery , I had a sharp pain in the right side of my back about where the lower part of the lung is. My entire rib cage hurt when I took a deep breath. But I did look up the symptoms on the internet, and one of the possible causes was a blood clots. They listened to my lungs, and took an X-ray, and I was sent by ambulance to the emergency room, where a CT scan verified that I had blood clots in both lungs pulmonary emboli.

I spent the night in the hospital on blood thinners via IV. I was released the next evening, but will be taking an oral blood thinner for at least six months. The doctors think that this is a residual result of my surgery, and that I was lucky that I went to hospital that day. I feel that Gregg was looking out for me. The first reaction of everybody there was to get as far away from Pearl Harbor as possible - irrational rationality given that we would at most be given 15 minutes warning, and traffic was slowing us down. That was confirmed when all the radio channels were broadcasting normal programming and no alert sirens went off.

Some guy had pushed the wrong button during an exercise - and he confirmed his action when the computer screen asked him if he was sure. Wives or significant others are invited. We will arrange for activities for men, ladies, and both based on who actually comes and what people want to do. So, check your calendar and erase anything else you had in September and October that might conflict with this. Get your travel arrangements made early and let us know what they are.

You can contact Harry at captaindudley cablespeed. All of the class was sent an email with many more details. Along the way, we stopped in Sacramento to visit my cousin Mark and his wife Margie, and took in some tasting at the Bogle Winery.

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oqamycavur.tk: A Guarding the Last Frontier

Youngest son was in Germany doing a semester abroad during his last year at NYU law school. Three dogs barely visible in the glass over our heads. Once again, I get to start an article for The Bulletin with the announcement of the passing of another Classmate. James P. Mahone passed away on October 30, in Ontario, Canada. I had received word that he was in the hospital during our 50th Reunion celebration. Evidently, he died shortly afterward. He will be missed by family, friends and classmates.

I apologize for not getting an article ready for the December Bulletin, but the deadline was close to us getting back and I had too much going on then. We did have a fabulous time at the reunion. And a good time was had by all. I would like to thank the Alumni Association staff one more time for all they did to make our 50th Reunion special. They sure did an outstanding job. Are you a member of a sky diving club? I also owe a big thank you to Sandy Kennedy and whoever else helped him order the table for us from the Academy store.

It was a great addition. I would like to thank all the classmates and spouses who sent use Christmas cards and yearly updates. Please keep those cards and letters, emails and phone calls coming cause as you know I refuse to make this stuff up. In addition, the USCG presents an annual service award in his name to an enlisted aircraft technician.

Berry, for the USCG. Mont was asked to present the Long Glass to the first watch during the commissioning ceremony. He said they had a trip and enjoyed seeing many family members they had not seen in years. The last count was submissions. It should be great reading with photos to match. From Rudy: Hooligan golf tournament. Great fun! Luckily, we enjoyed the degree weather during the coldest week of the winter season in DC. Now we are anticipating the March and April births of grandchildren number 2 and 3. Mark has been named the assistant head trainer for the Orioles. Art would be proud.

Dan won a nice package of smoked salmon. I was reminding myself that freakishly horrible things are, by definition, unlikely to happen. Even now, my reasoning feels sound. Day 2 was a slog. We paddled through a spitting drizzle in an endless straight line, along the high granite walls of the coast. We talked less and less, just pushed through the emerald chop.

Then eventually we gave up, hauling in our boats and making camp in a wide, crescent-shaped cove, short of the site that Jon originally picked out on his map. In the s, one prospector built a cabin not far from our campsite and brandished a gun at the Alaska Natives who passed through. We intuited that the scenery was beautiful, but we could see very little of it through the fog.

Soon, the big rain started.

USCG Rescues Russian Tanker - US Coast Guard Alaska

We rushed through dinner, then loafed in our tent until, eventually, the loafing turned to sleep. Gale winds, with gusts up to 59 miles per hour, turned back two cruise ships in Skagway, about 85 miles north. Around 2 a. We heard torrents of water lashing down and the waves crashing in the cove. We got up three or four hours later.

The rain and wind no longer felt ferocious but were still too gnarly to paddle through; there was no question, Jon said, that we were staying put. We cooked breakfast and took turns playing chess in the tent. By late morning, the storm seemed to have passed. We were antsy. We figured we would take a look around. The terrain was crammed with thickets of alder and spruce, underlain by ferns and a furor of prickly things. The plant pierced fleece and hurt like fire.

There were no trails. We followed it downstream, looking for a way across, and eventually found it bridged by a hefty tree trunk.

Guarding Frontier

It seemed like an easy crossing. Jon stepped up and led the way, and Dave and I waited in a single-file line on the stream bank behind him. The creek was loud, like a factory with all its gears and rollers churning. But I must have scanned those trees long enough to feel satisfied and safe, because I know I was turning my head, to go back to my friends, when I saw the dark shape rushing forward in my peripheral vision. What I heard must have been roots popping.

If a tree is large enough, you can apparently hear them cracking underground like gunfire. The thud was seismic. The trunk crashed down right next to me. Mapping out bits of evidence later, we concluded that the tree must have been about 80 feet tall and perhaps two feet in diameter. It was some kind of conifer — a spruce or cedar. When I got to him, he was crouching, stunned but O. The sight of Dave going down had canceled out everything else. It had narrowly missed his head, struck his left shoulder, shearing it from his collarbone and breaking many of his ribs.

Jon had heard nothing, seen nothing. He was turning around to help Dave onto the log — again, feeling responsible for our safety — and the next thing he knew, he was in the water. He tried to reach out his left arm but could not make it move. He could not move his legs. He felt a bolt of pain down his spine. Jon later described flashing through an idiosyncratic sequence of thoughts, all in a few milliseconds, as if watching a deck of cards fanning across a table.

One was an image of himself in a wheelchair, sitting behind a mixing console in a fancy recording studio. He had never worked in a recording studio and, though he played music, he had no particular plans to. Still, this vision apparently felt like an acceptable future and freed him to resurface in the present.

That was when he registered me, screaming his name. He knew from his many wilderness first-responder trainings that moving a person with spinal injuries risks paralysis. He somehow hoisted himself out of the stream before Dave or I got to him, using his right arm and his chin and biting into something loamy with his teeth, for additional leverage. He reassessed the situation: better. Also: worse. He now realized that we were at least a mile inland from our camp. Suddenly, his body was walking; his legs just started working. Dave and I put him between us, supporting his frame. He was moving faster than we expected, but uncoordinatedly.

Then he crumpled between us. We tried again; Jon was dead weight. Dave noticed that his breathing was shallow and his voice was low — signs, Dave knew from med school, of a collapsed lung. He began battering Jon with a pep talk, telling him, firmly, that he had to get up, that we had to get out of here. He looked down to see why this log he was resting on was so lumpy and realized that he was, in fact, sitting on his left arm.

Jon had zero feeling in it. He found it amusing, this sensation of complete estrangement from one of his limbs. Jon had been stressing that it was important to stay together. But this was another theory of wilderness survival that appeared to be breaking down in practice. Someone would have to get on the radio back at our camp.

By chance, while marooned in our tent during the rainstorm the night before, Jon showed us how to use the device, though he did it almost as a formality; the hand-held VHF unit was merely a line-of-sight radio, he told us, meaning its range was small, its signal too weak to pass through most obstacles. There was a moment of discussion, or maybe just an exchange of looks between me and Dave.

I told Dave he should go. Besides, I took for granted that Dave would make it. He was more capable in my mind, less likely to cinch himself in indecisive knots. I know that you, growing up, definitely felt insecure about things, and I think you looked at me and thought, Dave has everything figured out. But I had so much anxiety. But I guess I thought of the tremor as strictly physiological. What if he broke the radio, foreclosing whatever marginal chance we had of getting help? There were lots of ways to screw this up, Dave realized.

More occurred to him as he ran. He found the radio. He turned it on. He was lying near a log on his injured side, his beard and glasses flecked with dirt and tendrils of moss. He seemed to be on the brink of losing consciousness. Still, I knew I was supposed to keep talking to him, to tether him to the world with my voice somehow. I started vamping platitudes: We were going to get out of here soon, and so forth. But I could feel myself treading water, even blundering, at one point, into a long-winded apology, worried I overstayed my welcome that one Christmas with his family.

I was afraid that the helplessness in my voice might be counterproductive, unsettling Jon instead of steadying him. It was a tremendous silence to fill. What can a person say? I had two literature professors in college who made us memorize poems. You never knew when some lines of verse would come in handy, they claimed.

One liked to brag that, while traveling through Ireland, he found that if he spat out some Yeats at a pub, he could drink free. This is how I wound up reciting a love poem to Jon. After that, I imagine I also did some W. Auden; I knew a fair amount of Auden back then. Jon and I would spend about an hour and a half together alone on the forest floor. I ran through everything in my quiver — Kay Ryan, A. Ammons, Michael Donaghy — padding each poem with little prefatory remarks, while Jon said nothing, just signaled with his eyes or produced a sound whenever I checked in.

I felt like a radio D. I must have also done at least one by Hayden Carruth, my curmudgeonly pen pal at the literary magazine. Hayden and the animal pass a moment in stillness together. The foot patrol boat normally spent its time coursing through the Gulf of Alaska, inspecting halibut-fishing vessels, or circulating, as a terrorist deterrent, near the oil terminals at Valdez.

It was home-ported in Seward, hundreds of miles from Glacier Bay. But the crew was transiting to Juneau for a training when, a few days earlier, they were smacked by the same storm that later poured inland, over us. For two days, the boat swished around in foot-plus seas. Finally, the Mustang slipped into Glacier Bay to find some protection. The weather started to ease. That afternoon, as Roberts piloted the Mustang east, toward Dundas Bay, his pallid crewmates were finally staggering back up to the bridge, asking where the hell they were.

Our signal would have covered two or three miles at most. And yet, a boat — a Coast Guard boat, no less — happened to be passing through that exceedingly small window at precisely the right time. A moment earlier or later — seconds, potentially — and we might have slipped out of alignment. The moving boat would have cruised out of range, uncoupling from us forever. It was p. Then he turned and asked his watch commander to pull out all the standardized search-and-rescue paperwork. He was steeling himself, resummoning his professionalism.

Roberts was the crew member on the Mustang with the most current medical training; he would complete his E. We were nautical miles from the nearest hospital; a half-day trip, even in ideal conditions. He was still in front of our campsite, facing the water. He aimed straight up, then watched as the bright tracer rose and arced somewhere far behind him, deep in the woods.

He was uncertain whether this counted as a success. He started scanning the fog in front of him, but the Zodiac never appeared. And yet, this was lucky: they wound up coming ashore much closer to where I was waiting in the woods with Jon. Soon, whatever poem I was reciting was interrupted by whistles blowing and voices calling, and eventually three shapes, wearing hard hats and heavy orange rain gear, rushed toward us out of the trees. Roberts was especially impressive, a reassuringly large Boston-area native with a booming voice. The information was troubling: his pulse was 60 beats per minute; his breathing, fast and shallow.

They put his neck in a brace and eased him onto a kind of truncated backboard, called a Miller board, to move him out to the beach. Dave had returned by then. Later that night, lying down to sleep in a bed-and-breakfast in Gustavus — stunned and depleted, but dry and warm — Dave and I would talk and talk, reviewing the entire ordeal.

We had drooped into a long silence, coasting toward sleep, when Dave spoke up with one last observation. When we were getting ready to lift Jon on the backboard, he said, it occurred to him that this was one of those crisis moments you hear about, like when mothers are suddenly able to lift a car off their baby.

Dave expected we were going to have superhuman strength. We did not have superhuman strength. Then, in one motion, they took off downhill, with negligible help from us. The network had sent crews to other Coast Guard stations around the country too, though this assignment appeared to hold the most dramatic potential. Air Station Sitka was unique: Its pilots were responsible for 12, miles of coastline, a sprawling, treacherous wilderness riven with fjords, inlets and glaciers, often buffeted by implacably horrible weather. She was taking the call from behind a semicircular counter, like the reception desk at a midlevel corporate branch office.

Karl Baldessari, informed everyone that this mission would take longer to plan. Baldessari was a year veteran of the Coast Guard, a fast-moving, sinewy man in a blousy flight suit, with a tidy mustache and spiky hair. His role at the air station was that of a firehouse chief. He was responsible for the safety of everyone working there, which meant making judicious decisions about what warranted sending them hurtling through the sky.

That calculus got knotty in conditions like these, though there was a baseline volatility to flying in Alaska at all. Visibility in Alaska was frequently poor; conditions changed quickly. It was like taking an exit off the interstate, except there might be a granite wall in front of you wherever you chose to get off. It was possible the pilots would travel very far — a half-mile away from whoever needed their help — only to discover that the last leg was too risky and be forced to turn back.

This Inian Pass, right here, is the worst place we could possibly go. Inian Pass is a slim channel near the center of the Icy Strait, the long, interconnected system of waterways stretching through Glacier Bay. Conditions in the Icy Strait can be bad days of the year, Baldessari recently told me; wind, rain and storm surges all push through it fast from the open ocean. But Inian Pass is a narrow keyhole at the center of the strait — a mile-wide opening between a few uninhabited islands and a rocky point — where all that weather speeds up.

The only way for the pilots to reach us would be to fly straight through it. Nothing in the National Geographic footage, at this point, feels reassuring. The flight surgeon holds his hand over his mouth and bites his lip. The co-pilot, Chris Ferguson, only a few months into his posting in Alaska, mills around and fidgets with his ear. Lying on his backboard like a burl of driftwood, Jon was conscious and cognizant of his pain, but he had started to feel somehow buffered from his body, uninterested in connecting with the world beyond it.

It was a very passive experience. He was confused and felt impatient. This was supposed to be the simple part, when everyone rushed him to the hospital. Instead, his condition deteriorated. Within 10 minutes of reaching the beach, Jon threw up. I took out my wool cap to wipe his face, and he retched a second time, straight into my hat. It made Roberts anxious. He reported back to the Mustang that Jon had thrown up, then soon radioed again, explaining that Jon was going into shock.

He kept giving and requesting updates, trying to gauge how long this might take, and eventually started erecting a makeshift shelter out of plastic sheeting and medical tape, hoping to keep Jon out of the rain. Out of earshot of us, Roberts explained to his crew mate Eamon McCormack what the vomit meant: The possibility of Jon dying, here under their care, was real. They would go and give it a look, Baldessari explained over the radio, but the outlook was iffy. The guys on the beach, he said, must be prepared to get Jon back on their cutter and haul him to a hospital themselves, as fast as they could.

One evening this winter, my phone rang, and it was Karl Baldessari. Long retired from the Coast Guard, he was teaching aviation at a community college in Oregon, where I left a voice mail message earlier that day. I meanwhile had metamorphosed into a year-old father of two and fumbled to explain to Baldessari that, as thrilled as I was to have tracked him down, I was, at the moment, racing to finish a risotto for my daughters before gymnastics practice and would have to call him back.

However dramatic it remained for me, I assumed it would have been obscured in a yearslong wash of more sensational incidents. But everyone I spoke to did remember it, immediately and in detail. It was almost like it was yesterday. There was something about the supreme freakishness of the accident that left a lasting impression.

For those who came ashore, the experience was also marked by a feeling of subtly escalating chaos and the pressure to surmount it. McCormack told me that ours was a story he retold endlessly, often to the younger Coast Guardsmen he was eventually tasked with training. McCormack was not supposed to be landing an inflatable boat on an unforgivably rocky Alaskan shoreline, for example.

But there he was, anyway, beaching the Zodiac as gingerly as he could, so that Roberts and the other men could load Jon aboard. As relieved as Jon had been when the Coast Guard first arrived, he also felt instantaneously more vulnerable. Strapped to the back board, his neck in the collar, he surrendered control of his body, however imperfect that control had been. He was being hauled around as an object now, with no ability to wriggle or shift positions, to manage his pain or even to turn his head and see what was happening.

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He was helpless, entirely dependent on the upright people operating around him, those voices he could hear discussing him on the far side of some gauzy divide. One side was completely deflated. Instead, McCormack found the puncture and wedged the nozzle of a small pump inside. Then — steering the boat with one hand, operating the throttle with the other — he started working the pump with his foot, essentially doing leg presses, to keep the fender partly inflated.

The ride was already bumpy in four-foot seas. Roberts and the other Coast Guardsmen on the Zodiac leaned over Jon to shield him from the splash. The pain was heinous; Jon seemed to be passing out. Roberts talked to him, held his hand. Roberts felt crushed, he told me; he was torturing this guy in order to save him. Jon was still battened to the backboard, wedged up to keep the weight of his body on his less-painful side. Dave and I knelt and rubbed his feet.

The helicopter was going to make it. Now the crew got busy below: tying down anything that could be blown off by the rotor wash or stashing it in the mess. Instead, I remember only a heavy door to our left swinging open to reveal, like a scene from an action movie, the silhouette of a man in a blue flight suit, feet planted shoulder-width apart to steady himself as the ship rocked sideways.

Soon, everyone was working to squeeze him back through the narrow doorway and onto the deck where the helicopter, an MH Jayhawk, was idling overhead. Until recently, the story I told about the accident unfolded in two basic acts: the tree fell, instantaneously unleashing a kind of unfathomable chaos; then the Coast Guard appeared and, just as swiftly, regathered that chaos into order. It was like watching footage of an exploding object, then watching it run in reverse.

The maneuver the Coast Guard was readying to execute now, on the deck of the Mustang, would be the climax of that progression. The helicopter hovered 30 or 40 feet over the boat, mirroring its speed and trajectory, while both vehicles moved slowly forward. Forward and right The whole procedure, from our vantage point, seemed seamless and routine.

In a way, it was: After the agonized deliberation at the air station, the pilots exited off their GPS route into fairly manageable conditions around Inian Pass. Ultimately, scooping Jon off the deck of the Mustang would resemble a standard exercise that the pilots drilled in their trainings. A few moments earlier, as the men scurried around Jon on his backboard, packaging and fastening him for the hoist, Jon worried that the second he got airborne he would start twirling uncontrollably, like the feathery end of a cat toy, and potentially thwack his head on the equipment on deck.

But now, he was levitating smoothly — a solitary, swaddled bale of a man, perfectly perpendicular to the ground. Dave and I watched it happen: our friend rising steadily away from us, improbably, to safety. As Jon floated higher, he could hear the Coast Guardsmen on the Mustang beneath him begin to cheer.


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  • He felt it was safe to open his eyes. When he did, he saw someone, hunched in the open cargo door of the helicopter, pointing a television camera at him. Jon was rushed into surgery at the hospital in Sitka that evening. His spleen had been macerated into countless flecks. After awakening from surgery, Jon was disappointed that the doctors had swept those shards into a bag and thrown his spleen in the trash; he wanted to get a look at it, maybe even keep it preserved in a jar, alongside his cyborg-banana.

    He felt he would need to face conversations like these if he was going to be a doctor. I guess, logistically, we did. We had zero sense of accomplishment, or even agency. In our minds, all we did was avoid screwing up until the real help could arrive and save him. From the instant he willed himself out of the water, he felt all of us locking into that same seamless flow of order steadily displacing chaos that Dave and I only experienced once the Coast Guard arrived.

    It was amazing to him how the three of us managed to generate solutions for each successive problem. The feeling of inevitability that day became only more pronounced for Jon as time passed and the entire story of our rescue receded into a prologue to the rest of his life. The surgery in Sitka was only the first of half a dozen, and it would take several years for him to regain 60 percent of the use of his arm, wrist and hand, as the nerves gradually regrew along his injured side.

    He could repair kayaks but needed help lifting them. He was unable to wrestle the mattress corners into the fitted sheets when he made the beds. After that, he started working at a recording studio in Portland, just as he envisioned while stuck in the water, and he now runs his own audio-mastering company: Spleenless Mastering. Eventually Jon seemed to have recovered from the accident without any conspicuous disabilities. But his life has been quietly corroded by chronic pain and, almost equally, by the stresses of navigating the doctors, medications and their side effects to manage it.

    About two years after the accident, he learned he had PTSD. It manifested as a kind of unbearable empathy for anyone who was suffering. He would hear interviews with natural-disaster victims or the homeless on NPR and have to pull his car over. There continued to be other tribulations, too — more mundane ones. A few times a year, he still rebreaks a rib out of nowhere; once or twice, Jon told me, all it has taken is an especially affectionate hug from his wife.

    Jon found early on that he could cordon off this suffering, both in his own mind and in conversation, by making jokes about the accident itself and sticking to the happy ending of our rescue, a trick that got much easier after the National Geographic show aired later that year. The soundtrack was all heart-thwacking synth drums and shredding guitar.

    Initially, the schlockiness of the production felt like a blessing. The show depersonalized the accident, giving us all a shorthand to convey how dramatic that day had been, without confronting how destabilizing and senseless it might have felt. But we never realized the degree to which that kitschy shorthand started to obscure the real story — then, gradually, to replace it. The morning after the accident, Dave and I traveled back to Dundas Bay to pack up our campsite and collect the kayaks we abandoned the previous evening.

    We were shuttled there from Gustavus by the same boat captain who dropped us off three days earlier, a forbiddingly taciturn commercial fisherman named Doug Ogilvy. He asked if we had waders. We did not. So Ogilvy put on his, climbed down the ladder and told Dave to get on his back. Then stoically, like an ox or an old-timey strongman hauling a safe, he trudged through the thigh-high water, dropped Dave on the gravel beach, then lurched back and hauled me the same way, as if I were a man-size infant in a papoose.

    That is, he half-expected to find evidence that the accident had been fortuitous somehow, that there was a reason, or redemptive value, behind it. My mother had the same instinct when I called her the night before. On the phone I strained to emphasize for her — she was only two years into her cruelly premature widowhood, and I was new at being the overprotective son of a widow — that Jon was going to be all right, and that Dave and I were safe. She told me that my dad must have been up there looking out for us somehow.

    I resented all the supernatural thinking. A tree fell in the woods. It might not have, but it did. As strange as it sounds, it was years before I realized that the tree could have hit me — and only after a friend pointed this out, as I told the story around a fire one night. And it was only a few weeks ago, while on the phone with Jon, that it occurred to me that the tree could have hit all three of us — we were standing in a single-file line, after all, waiting to cross the creek — and that we all might have wound up clobbered and scattered in that river, dying slowly and watching each other die.

    And so, the real meaning of the accident, if I felt compelled to find one, might be that it validated my most exaggerated fears. But instead, it somehow helped cleanse me of them. There was comfort for me in accepting the arbitrariness of what happened, in regarding it as a spasm of random damage in time and space that, just as randomly, a small number of human beings got the opportunity to repair. We were more capable than I had understood. We were also far more helpless.

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