Rep. Coble started off in 1949 in North Carolina, 250 miles inland, where he knew “virtually nothing” about the Coast Guard prior to enlisting. He was attending Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C. where his college classmates had gone to the recruiting office and talked him into going with them. Why the sudden interest?
“I wrecked my dad’s car, for one thing,” chuckled Coble. “Ran it right off the road. I had a college deferment. So I could have stayed and rolled the dice and see how that played out but after I wrecked my dad’s car I thought this would be one less expense for him.”
Coble was soon a recruit at Training Center Cape May. After boot camp, Coble’s first duty station was a port security unit just outside of Portsmouth, Va. He hoped for adventure as a self-proclaimed “frustrated geographer.”
After five and a half years of active duty service, Coble transitioned into his role as an officer in the Coast Guard Reserve and continued to serve for 22 years. At his last unit, he served as the commanding officer of a Coast Guard Reserve unit in Wilmington, N.C.
After his time on active duty, Coble went on to receive degrees from Guilford College and the University of North Carolina and in 1979 was elected to North Carolina’s House of Representatives where he says he “got the political bug.”
In 1984 he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, two years after retiring as a captain in the Coast Guard Reserve. It may have started as “just a bite” but Coble has gone on to serve 15 terms in office.
Coble will soon retire after this term in Congress. He is the last Coast Guard veteran currently serving in Congress. Reminiscing on both his service in the Coast Guard and as a member of Congress, the one thing he wishes Americans would do is fully support the service.
“I wish Americans would more openly embrace the Coast Guard,” said Coble. “Oftentimes I would go to a Veterans Day program and the four marching hymns naturally would play. Conspicuously absent? You guessed it, Semper Paratus.”
Source: Coast Guard 'Compass' Blog