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Story about Gus Peterson and Carroll Coon, both on Eternal Patrol

by Ronald "Lonnie" Marchand 75 - 78 Radio Gold:  (8/27/07)

After graduating from RM "C" School, I reported for my next duty station, Sub School, New London in March of 75. The Sub Classes were full, so all students waiting for a seat were given temporary assignments. I knew one of the Radiomen assigned to the Staff. He worked up a deal that I could not refuse. While everyone else was given crappy
jobs to do, he got me TAD'd to the USS Tigrone AGSS-419. The Tigrone was getting ready to be Decom'd later that year. So for 8 weeks I was on the Tigrone, routing their traffic, making message runs, helping get the Boat for decom. We even took her out for a few hours with some high level dignitaries onboard. I was able to milk that out until the first
week of May. The Tigrone started formal decom on May 5th and was stricken from the list on June 27th. The Decom XO, at one of our morning musters, gave a bunch of us who were TAD'd, a letter of appreciation, a ship's hat, patch and a (Diesel Boats Forever) DBF Pin. I was young and dumb at that time. I did not put much importance in those items. I lost the DBF pin or gave it away, not sure which. After class on June 27th, I went down to the Tigrone, got some cake and said goodbye to her. I graduated from Sub School on 16 July and transferred to the Key shortly afterwards. We were in Charleston and did not go to Rota until October. When I reported to the Key, outside of myself, there were 2 other Blacks onboard, RM2 Rich and SKC Evans. I have to admit, I was a little intimated. 

 

After the Bluies departed we got into normal ships routine. MMCM(SS) Peterson, our COB, was a great guy. Even though he was a MMCM(SS), everyone called him COB or Chief Pete. In those days, it was customary to assign a non-qual to a senior qualified person, the "Sea Daddy" Program. Chief Pete assigned me to IC1(SS) Carroll Coon, affectionately known as "Coondog". Now I was 19, 6'4", maybe 175lbs. Carroll was about 5'9", barreled
chested, big belly, tattoos everywhere, and arms like Popeye, they were big. Carroll was an old Diesel Boat sailor also. Though Carroll was an IC1, him and Chief Pete were close friends. One thing I soon found out was Carroll was someone that no one messed with. He was some kind of bad. Nice guy as long as you don't piss him off. Carroll took a liking
to me. I asked him about that one day we were talking. I had told him that I had passed on signing up for the IPO program twice, once in "A" school and again at Sub School. With the IPO "Instant Petty Officer" program, you signed up for additional years and you were automatically advanced to E-4. Well, in the real Navy, IPO's were, for that sake of
better words, not looked very highly upon. The Old Schooler's did not care much for them. Your first Crow was a big thing, it was earned, not given. Because I did not do the IPO program, along with the fact that I was TAD'd to the Tigrone, Carroll was alright with that. As for the "Sea Daddy" program, you were not allowed to do anything without your Sea Daddy's permission. That included eating, sleeping, and other normal things to do. When you were not on watch, you were working towards your Quals. God help you if you were caught watching a movie when you were supposed to
be Qual'ing. When I was ready to get a siggie on my card, I could only go to someone that Carroll approved of. The only time Carroll cut me some slack was when I did my 6 weeks of Mess Cranking, other than that, I hit it. Carroll called me his "Sea Slug". He impressed me so much, I never wanted to let him down. It was through his efforts, I ACED my
board. That made him happy. He taught me a lot about Submarines, Life and being a Man. Lessons I carry even today. Along with Chief Pete, Carroll has left a mark on me that I carry each and every day. HE TAUGHT ME THAT NOTHING OF VALUE IS ACHIEVED WITHOUT HARD WORK AND SACRIFICE. I think of him often. Lastly, I told Carroll that the Tigrone gave me a DBF pin and somehow I lost it. The day I qualified, in May of 76, when I
finally got a chance to go to my rack to get some sleep and recover from the pounding I took, I found a "DBF" pin on my pillow, it was Carroll's DBF pin. I still have that pin today. I miss him and love him.

RIP "COONDOG",

 

And here is the DBF Pin that  Coondog gave me. 

 

 

Ronald "Lonnie" Marchand
Base Communications Manager
Naval Air Station, Corpus Christi

Two-Time Texas State Martial Arts "Black Belt" Champion