Engineman 3RD Class Danny Ray, center

Today I salute Danny Ray, Engineman 3rd Class who served in the United States Coast Guard from 1964-1968. Ray is my husbands uncle, although I’ve known him for the past 34 years I didn’t know until this past summer he served in the Coast Guard. I have always had a great deal of respect for him and was impressed to learn of his service.

Ray’s MOS as Engineman was general repair on engines, upkeep, monitoring gauges on the ship he was stationed on for the Coast Guard. He trained and tested in service courses and made rate. Book courses were what the Coast Guard had at that time. Study and take the test. He also went to damage control firefighting school every year in San Francisco.In addition to training courses, for 18 months he was at a life boat station at Winchester Bay on the Oregon coast. There his primary objective was rescue and recovery.

He traveled from the Arctic to Antarctic, crossed the Equator, spent a month in Pearl Harbor, traveled The South Pacific. and sailed the Seven Seas. Ray was honored with a Good Conduct Service Award. He lived and worked on one ship the majority of his service,  an Ice Breaker Ship called the Staten Island. The Navy originally had the Icebreaker ships but in the early 196os The Coast Guard took over all the Navy Icebreaker ships. The Staten Island kept its name, but its number changed from Navy AGB-15 to Coast Guard W278.


What is you like most about serving?

It’s pretty neat seeing new places and different parts of the world. You become really tight with your colleagues who become fast friends and that is really neat. Every now and then one of the guys would show up over the years and we’d catch up.

What prompted you to serve?

My Dad said you are either going to go to school or you are going to serve. I said ok I am going into the service. So I had gone down and signed up for the Navy and all ready to go. All I had to do was take the oath. I was walking by and the Coast Guard recruiter was next door to the Navy recruiter. The Navy recruiter was gone and in those days it was pretty competitive and the Coast Guard recruiter called me over. He said, “Hey where are you going?” I said, “I’m here to see the Navy recruiter and take the oath.” He said, “Come on over and let me talk to ya.”

So I thought “what the heck” so I went over and started talking to him. I asked when I had to leave if I joined. He said I wouldn’t have to leave for another couple of months. If I went into the Navy, I had to leave that day for boot camp. The idea of having a couple of months to fool around at home sounded great, so that was it. I joined the Coast Guard.

When I got home my mom and dad said, “What are you doing here? I thought you were leaving.”

What were the greatest challenges?

It was hard being away from home for the first time after living on a farm and never seeing anything beyond Portland.  Once we were off the coast of Siberia (during the Cold War)  and the Russian helicopters would hover right above the ship and we weren’t allowed to go outside. That made us a little nervous.

What was your most rewarding experience?

Rescuing people when I was stationed at the Winchester Bay Life Boat Station. We weren’t trained for it at that time, we were just thrown to the wolves, equipped with a life jacket, unlike the crash helmets, wet suits and gear they have today. And we only wore the life jackets if we really had to. We would get the boat close by and drag the victim in. Nobody told us what to do. There would be three guys on a boat. There was a boat-swain, the guy who ran the boat, and engine man who took care of the boat and a Seaman who did general maintenance. Today they have about ten guys per boat.

How did your family feel about your service?

My family was very supportive of my service.

Ray with his mother on The Staten Island


What is your advice to someone who is thinking of serving their country?

Do it! Pick out something you really like and what branch and do it! I think it’s a good thing because you get to go to school and grow up a lot and it gives you time to figure something out. You can even learn a trade in the service.




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