Coast Guard fathers: Things I’d like to pass on to my kids

Petty Officer 2nd Class Stephen Fink, a marine science technician at Coast Guard Sector Baltimore, poses with his four children – Finnian, Odin, Rylan and Tristan. Photo courtesy of MST2 Stephen Fink.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Stephen Fink poses with his four children – Finnian, Odin, Rylan and Tristan. Photo courtesy of MST2 Stephen Fink.

by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jasmine Mieszala

There are many things a father wishes to pass on to his children. Sometimes it’s his good looks or his straight teeth, or maybe it’s his love of cars or fishing skills.  While many Coast Guard fathers would like to pass on those very same things, many of them would also like to pass on some of the skills and lessons they’ve learned while serving in the Coast Guard.

Service members are offered the chance to learn many valuable skills through highly specialized training for their jobs. Additionally, various trainings are held throughout the year to teach members about topics such as budgeting and financial awareness, motorcycle safety and natural disaster preparedness. Other lessons can’t be taught in a classroom and come from working with people from all different walks of life and backgrounds.

“During my time in the Coast Guard, I have learned quite a few life lessons and skills that I intend to instill in my children, hopefully helping them throughout their lives no matter what profession they choose,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Stephen Fink a marine science technician at Coast Guard Sector Baltimore. “The Coast Guard has helped teach me that communication is key in being not only a strong leader, but also a contributing member on any team. It’s not always easy getting four boys from the ages of one to seven to communicate effectively with each other, but I believe learning this important skill will significantly help them in the future.”

Communication is important in every aspect of the Coast Guard. On an average work day, communication may be getting your point across effectively, but during training or a real mission, communication could mean the difference between injury, life or death. Members are taught communication skills from the very first day they step off the bus at boot camp in Cape May, New Jersey, up until their very last day, whether leaving the service to pursue other careers or retiring after 20 years.

“Promptness and being on time are crucial,” said Seaman Anthony Johnson, a watchstander at Coast Guard Station Annapolis. “The Coast Guard definitely requires you to be on time everywhere you go, and I think that shows professionalism. I definitely plan on teaching my daughter to be on time wherever she is, for business or even going somewhere fun.”

There’s a common saying in the military, “If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late”.  Many members live and breathe by this saying.

The next piece of advice is something all members strive to do on and off duty. It’s advice that is passed on to and from junior and senior members alike.

“You have to do the right thing,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Joseph Pancotti, a boatswain’s mate at Coast Guard Station Annapolis. “Even if it’s difficult, you have to do the right thing no matter what.”

Military and tradition are two words seen together frequently. Military traditions can be almost anything, ranging from specific ceremonies to unit mascots. While tradition is important in the military, it’s also important to many families.

“The importance of tradition is something I want my kids to know and appreciate,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Wozniak, a boatswain’s mate at Coast Guard Station Annapolis. “I want to help ensure tradition is kept alive.”

Senior Chief Petty Officer William Krukowski, officer in charge of Coast Guard Station Annapolis, poses with his wife and daughter following the change-of-command at Station Annapolis May 29, 2015. Photo courtesy of BMCS William Krukowski.

Senior Chief Petty Officer William Krukowski poses with his wife and daughter at Station Annapolis. Photo courtesy of BMCS William Krukowski.

The final piece of advice comes from a member with more than 19 years of service in the Coast Guard. He’s served in many leadership positions and has helped many other members during his career.

“If I could pass on one piece of advice to my children, it would be that you can’t do anything alone,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer William Krukowski, officer in charge of Coast Guard Station Annapolis. “You need a team. Everything I’ve been successful at in my career I didn’t achieve by myself. There was someone along the line that either helped me or taught me something. You’re not going to get through life alone. You need people around you and a good support network to help you be successful.”

Coast Guard fathers are just like any others. They want the best for their children and they want them to be prepared for anything life gives them. Just as they were trained, Coast Guard fathers want their children to be semper paratus!

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