HOUSTON – My name is Patrick Kelley and I am a Petty Officer in the U.S. Coast Guard. This blog, however, has absolutely nothing to do with the views or objectives of the Coast Guard. This is really an outlet for me to share what I am doing with family, friends and anyone else who finds my staggering journey through the every day somewhat interesting.
I was born in Arlington, Texas, and grew up in a couple of small towns outside of Fort Worth. I have since traveled from coast-to-coast, yet I still believe that Ft. Worth is one of the best places to reside, eat some of the best food anywhere, and raise a family.
I joined the Coast Guard in February of 2001, graduated boot camp, and reported to Station Sabine Pass just months before the horrific attacks of 9-11. I remember bursting into the executive officer’s office, demanding to be sent overseas to make right what had been the most awful and devastating wrong in American history. He told me that, while he appreciated my enthusiasm, just about everyone in the Guard was making the same demand, and only so many could go.
Well I never made it overseas, but I did make it to Virginia, where I attended machinery technician class-A school. I had never changed a set of brakes, let alone changed a cam shaft, yet I was headed toward a career as a mechanic.
After school, my new wife, Toni, and I headed to the Coast Guard Cutter Cuttyhunk in Port Angeles, Wa. We were both just 20-years-young, and we both struggled to make the transition. I had to get used to life away from my home address and Toni had to grow accustomed to being away from her home state. Even though we had some rough patches, the Northwest experience was amazing. We learned that if we could survive the nine consecutive months of rain that we would be blessed with the best three months of summer on the planet.
After Port Angeles, we were headed back to Port Arthur. I had recently advanced to E-5 and was set to assume the number two position in the engineering shop at the station in Sabine. While I worked diligently as a mechanic, I knew it was not what I should be doing to best serve the Coast Guard and my family. In fact, I did more search and rescue and law enforcement than mechanizing.
So after seven years in the Guard, I made a career change. After command approval, an extensive screening process and surviving an absolutely grinding school, I was headed to Houston as a brand new public affairs officer.
Since making the change, I have been busier than any other time in my life. I have done live national interviews, met some of the most powerful people in the country, covered historic events, learned the basic elements of photo and video, helped to tell the Coast Guard’s story and generally had a great time. I have met two presidents, one DHS secretary, General Petraeus, the Commandant of the Coast Guard, several state and federal congressman, the first ever Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard (MCPOCG) – Reserve Forces, and both the current active duty and reserve MCPOG’s. I have been part of the responses to hurricanes Dolly, Gustav and Ike, the New Orleans oil spill and the North Dakota Floods.
While that all sounds great, I am still learning the art of transitioning from work to liberty. This blog is part of my effort to detach from work, once I leave the office. I am sure that I will, at times, write about my job, but for the most part I plan to blather on about whatever happens to tickle my fancy. I hope we can both enjoy my experiment at not working.