Back WHEN: Retaining Coast Guard tales alive

WE ALL HAVE reminiscences and stories from our lives. Spouse and children, perform and friends all establish into our personalized tales. Element of the objective of my columns is to remind men and women they are part of a considerably larger tale. I have acquired that retaining all those stories […]

WE ALL HAVE reminiscences and stories from our lives. Spouse and children, perform and friends all establish into our personalized tales. Element of the objective of my columns is to remind men and women they are part of a considerably larger tale.

I have acquired that retaining all those stories alive can be really hard perform. Lots of of your houses have a cabinet or bookshelf that has become your reliquary. A photo might provide sweet recollections to thoughts, but if you do not compose down what is in that photograph, the story might be dropped.

I a short while ago had the satisfaction of meeting Cliff and Tina Rocheleau of Sequim. This couple has worked challenging to acquire artifacts and retain alive the tales surrounding the Coastline Guard Cutter Winona.

There was a particular bond involving the Winona and Port Angeles. The Winona was a distinctive ship, and Port Angeles was a particular city for all the officers and crew who served a tour of responsibility here.

The CGC Winona (WHEC-65) was a 255-foot lake class cutter. The lake class cutters were being all named right after lakes in the United States, and the Winona was named soon after Lake Winona in Minnesota. It was commissioned April 19, 1946. On Sept. 11, 1947, Port Angeles became her homeport and remained so right up until the Winona was decommissioned May perhaps 31, 1974.

The Navy beckoned young adult males to “join the Navy and see the world” whilst the Coastline Guard identified as them to “be component of the motion.” And that was pretty genuine. A person the moment stated, “While the U.S. Navy was drilling and working towards, the U.S. Coast Guard was just getting it accomplished.”

In 1962, the Winona’s onboard newspaper spoofed the coastie daily life: “Tired of jetting to Europe, Hawaii, somewhere else around the globe? Weary of Yellowstone, Crater Lake, Significant Smokies, other countrywide parks and shrines? Experienced ample of Mexico, Las Vegas, Reno, Tahoe, Canada? Want a diverse family vacation excursion? O.K. Enable me propose the North Pacific, Bering Sea and Bristol Bay in a single, economic system package! It has every little thing — slow planes, just one-night time stops, layovers in out-of-the-way destinations, no women, box lunches, higher bunks, long days with no sunshine or inviting beaches, whistles likely working day and evening, bell ringing, lifesaving drills, open showers …”

If you glimpse at more mature shots of the Winona, you will see it was designed with a twin-gun turret on the bow. Later images clearly show a one gun. Throughout serious temperature, the authentic turret was knocked off its stand and was changed by a single 5-inch, 38-caliber gun. The Winona also was armed with 6 50-caliber equipment guns and two 81-mm mortars.

The Winona deck crew in 1947.

The Winona’s crew included 13 officers and 130 enlisted men.

For the duration of war time, the Winona and her crew obtained quite a few honors about the decades. They incorporate the Globe War II Victory Medal, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Services Medal, National Protection Provider Medal, Vietnam Marketing campaign Medal and the Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Device Citation.

All through peace time, the cutter and her crew executed several obligations, together with drug patrols, search-and-rescue missions and oceanographic experiments. They also executed patrols to secure Alaskan fisheries and whales from poachers. Through the Cold War, they patrolled the Bering Sea to observe Soviet functions.

Above the decades, about 2,000 officers and crew served aboard the Winona. A significant selection of them made a decision the Olympic Peninsula was the place to phone home. Between them was Cliff Rocheleau.

Cliff Rocheleau, 1962

Cliff Rocheleau, 1962

Cliff is from Connecticut and enlisted in the Coastline Guard in March 1962. He served at the Willapa Bay Lifeboat Station for about a yr. In 1963, he entered Digital Technician School right before currently being assigned to the Winona and served there from May well 1966 for a full of 4 many years and two months. Cliff said serving on the Winona was an significant portion of his existence. It was only the 2nd time he had been much from home.

Cliff Rocheleau, 2001

Cliff Rocheleau, 2001

Cliff didn’t want the reminiscences and stories of the Winona to fade absent. To that stop, he aided arrange Winona all-crew reunions that aided crewmates continue to be connected. Also, Cliff asked for images with descriptions, newspaper articles, memorabilia and crew members’ have published sea tales. The motto through has been “Keeping Her Memory Alive.”

There are so many memories of the Winona, it would demand a significant e book to hold them all, but in this article are a couple:

When the Winona was initial stationed in Port Angeles, it was moored at the port dock. Responsibility was really hard, and the crew managed to appreciate their totally free time when in port. The west portion of downtown was nonetheless tide flats with streets and buildings set on pilings, and throughout off hrs, the crew would just take a skiff in excess of to the Minor Brick Tavern and tie up below it. I suppose that aided give the Winona the nickname “Wine Barge,” which stayed with it throughout its assistance.

Periodic ocean station duty also was pretty important. Until finally 2010, ships would hold positions at unique destinations in the North Pacific and North Atlantic for 30-working day durations. Station NAN was midway concerning San Francisco and Hawaii although Station Victor was halfway in between Hawaii and Japan. The cutter would serve as a weather station and a beacon for navigation, assisting to make sure safe and sound passage for ships and airplanes in between Hawaii and the mainland.

That also intended the crews had been normally absent from residence during the holidays. In 1959, the Winona’s onboard poet wrote a ditty to the crew of the Cutter Pontchartrain (WHEC-70), which was replacing the Winona at Station NAN:

We experimented with to produce a poem to put on this in this article card

to convey to you Merry Xmas! (But poetry will come tricky)

we’ll just say, “we’re sorry that you have to be out here”

and conclude with “Happy Holiday” and “Better luck future year!!!”

Thanks to Cliff’s attempts, the Winona’s bell at present is on display at Port Angeles City Pier.

I respect Cliff’s perform to hold this piece of nearby record alive. He donated the assortment of shots, letters and memorabilia to the North Olympic Record Middle, and we think about it a terrific honor to be the keepers of Winona’s wealthy heritage.


John McNutt is a descendant of Clallam County pioneers and treasurer of the North Olympic Record Center Board of Administrators. He can be reached at [email protected].

McNutt’s Clallam record column appears the 1st Sunday of every month.

Lorena Princevalle

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