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On the Dunes

Mack Bucki | September 9, 2022
Mack Bucki

Hello! 3/c Mack Bucki, at your service!

After a three-month-long hiatus, I have decided to make my return (not like I had a choice). Yet, my summer wasn’t spent poolside or tanning on the beach; instead, I had Coast Guard things to do. The first of those things was embarking on a five-week-long voyage on EAGLE. Although our vessel was headed for Miami, the journey there was far from glamorous. The living corridors were tight and at times lacked AC, meal times were a quick “eat and go”, and a treadmill was nowhere to be seen. It was tough to not see land for several days at a time, but it was an opportunity I wound up being thankful for. For example, I would have never had the chance to climb up to the royal sails or dive deep into the Atlantic Ocean. Anyways, it went by in the blink of an eye. We reached our final destination of Galveston, TX and made preparations to start our next phase of the summer.

So, not even twenty-four hours later, I was on my way to Nags Head, NC. A seaman picked me up from the Norfolk Airport around midnight. Station Oregon Inlet was in the exact opposite of the tourist-laden beaches of the Outer Banks. It was located next to a jetty on the remote Pea Island sandbar. A training department misstep meant that I would be the lone cadet at my station; however, I wasn’t upset. After spending weeks cooped up in a rack the size of a coffin, a little bit of space was exactly what I needed. It wasn’t long until I grew to love the small, hole-in-the-wall station I had been assigned to. The crew helped introduce me to the area and taught me how to stand radio guard. My favorite part was riding along in the MLB to conduct a helicopter training with Elizabeth City.

The area’s Coast Guard history was also fascinating to me. Decades ago, just a mile down the coastline, Richard Etheridge had taken post as the first African American officer. A short, ten-minute drive south would bring you to Chicamacomico, where a historic North Carolina rescue was made on the water. America’s First Colony (Roanoke) was just a stone’s throw away. After a long day of standing watch, I loved to explore Jockey’s Ridge State Park. The site is known for its giant, sloping sand dunes. Like OBX’s own miniature Sahara Desert! On weekends, they offer hang-gliding lessons and tourists gather to fly their neon-colored kites.

My time with the enlisted side of our Coast Guard was well spent. Even though I wished that I had another cadet there to share the experience with my stay at Station Oregon Inlet was worth the hours of work in the watch office. It helped me recognize the diversity of our Coast Guard’s units. I will always cherish the memories made at that tiny baby-blue building located off the world’s greatest sandbar.

See you in September!

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