Celebrating family in a time of thanks

5th Coast Guard District News
Story and photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Nick Ameen

Atlantic City – When you ask a couple how they met, you don’t really expect them to say, “Pole vaulting,” but that’s exactly how Nate and Emma Rhodes became friends.

Emma studied Fine Arts and Architecture at Connecticut College, across the street from the Coast Guard Academy where Nate was a cadet. Emma’s school wasn’t equipped for indoor pole-vaulting practice, so she used the track at the academy, where she says she was pretty much the only one not wearing a uniform.

Nate and Emma became friends almost instantly, and stayed just friends throughout all four years of college. When Nate graduated and earned his commission, he was transferred to the Coast Guard Cutter Venturous in St. Petersburg, Florida. During this time, Emma began her graduate studies at the Rochester Institute of Technology where she earned her master’s degree in Information Technology. Not until they were separated did Nate and Emma realize they belonged together.

They dated as a long-distance couple for two years, until Emma was done with school and Nate received orders to flight school in Pensacola, Florida. They were married July 7, 2011.

The Rhodes Family

Lt. Nate Rhodes, a helicopter pilot at Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City, N.J., stands in front of an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter with his wife, Emma, and their 1-year-old daughter, (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Nick Ameen)

About a year later, Nate and Emma were transferred to Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City in Egg Harbor Township, where Nate is a lieutenant. His primary duty is flying MH-65 Dolphin helicopters. As a helicopter pilot at Air Station Atlantic City, Nate is on standby to respond to search and rescue cases at a moment’s notice, from New York down to Virginia. Just a few months after Nate and Emma reported to South Jersey, Hurricane Sandy hit.

“I flew afterward and saw the damage,” said Nate. “I was impressed at how the community came together helping friends and neighbors in the aftermath of the hurricane.”

During his first year at the air station, Nate carried the additional duty as the unit’s public affairs officer. He was responsible for coordinating national and local media requests during the storm recovery efforts.

Nate’s work as the air station’s public affairs officer played a huge role in the unit earning the 2012 CDR Jim Simpson Award, a national-level honor bestowed upon a Coast Guard unit for excellence in public outreach.

Nate and Emma said they’ve made a lot of good friends here, not just at the air station, but also within the community. They requested the assignment in South Jersey because it’s the closest air station to Nate’s family in Fairfax, Virginia, and Emma’s family in Rochester, New York. Since moving to South Jersey, they’ve started a family of their own.

Nate and Emma’s 1-year-old daughter, Maylin, was born at Shore Medical Center in Somers Point in September 2013. She was born on a Friday the 13th, just like Emma.

Emma said Maylin’s due date was actually the 14th but she really wanted her to be born on the 13th.

“What are the chances a mother and daughter would both be born on Friday the 13th?” said Nate.

For many military spouses, finding employment can be challenging when you’re required to relocate every few years. In Emma’s case, living in different states has expanded clientele for her web and graphic design company, Emma Tang Designs. She started her company in 2004, and primarily works from home helping local businesses and non-profit organizations.

“It’s nice to help businesses in ways they might not have realized,” said Emma. “Bumping up their website or helping their graphic design can really bring in a whole new flood of customers, which will boost everyone’s happiness.”

Emma said one of the great aspects of being stationed in South Jersey has been the support of her fellow Coast Guard spouses.

“The spouses make a really good effort to create events and have a network where you can lean on one another and ask questions,” said Emma. “You can rely on each other and make friends so it’s not as scary when you have to move away, because chances are you’ll see someone you know. It’s really nice to be in that community.”

Nate and Emma are excited to share some happy holiday news: they’re expecting their second child!


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