Uwe Nehring calls his career with the Coast Guard one wild ride.
The Enumclaw resident’s exploits in the Coast Guard and with the National Park Service cover more than three decades of Search and Rescue experience, have taken him to all seven continents and have provided several lifetimes of sea stories and tall timber tales.
After 34 years, Coast Guard Reservist-Chief Warrant Officer Nehring is calling it quits. He was honored at a retirement ceremony at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Oak Harbor, Wash., Aug. 27.
“No 20-year-old believes they’ll be doing something for 34 years,” Nehring said.
“It was a great service,” he said. “I guess that’s what attracted me in the first place – a mission to do real-time, real-world rescues.”
Nehring enlisted in the Coast Guard June 7, 1976, and attended Boot Camp at Cape May, N.J.
He was issued orders to report to Group Long Island Sound–Station Eaton’s Neck in Northport, N.Y., where he worked as a deck seaman, crewing on the station’s Search and Rescue boats and other assorted Search and Rescue platforms. At the time Station Eaton’s Neck was the third busiest Search and Rescue station in the Coast Guard and averaged about 1,300 cases annually. Seaman Nehring served the station until September 1977 and participated in numerous critical Search and Rescues and enforcement actions in Long Island Sound.
He then received orders to attend Marine Science Technical-A School in Yorktown, Va., where he completed training and was ordered to the High Endurance Cutter – Campbell, also known as the Queen of the Fleet, in December 1977. The Campbell conducted Alaskan current surveys and fishery patrols in Alaska and along the Oregon and Washington coasts.
In June 1979, he was transferred to the Marine Safety Offices Puget Sound where he worked in the Prevention shop and conducted boardings on freight vessels and oil terminals.
In September of that same year, he moved on to the Coast Guard Icebreaker Polar Sea where he crewed on the first Antarctic voyage of the Polar Sea with ports of call in Hawaii, Sydney, Australia, Wellington, New Zealand, McMurdo Sound, Ushuaia, Argentina, Weddell Sea, Valpariso, Chile and Callao, Peru. The Polar Sea also transited the Drake’s Passage three times during this voyage.
“That was a time when there weren’t a lot of people going down there,” Nehring said.
His enlistment ended in June 1980, but Nehring wasn’t finished. He joined the USCG Reserves and was stationed at Group Port Angeles where he crewed on the small boats on Ediz Hook. He distinguished himself at the station by saving a 56-year-old fisherman who suffered a heart attack while under way and another crewman aboard a freighter that was anchored in the bay.
Nehring, who also has a long, distinguished career with the National Park Service, transferred to USCG Station Bellingham in June 1985 where he served as crewman, coxswain and boarding officer on the stations small boats. There he took part in some daring rescues of sailboats and commercial fishing vessels and assisted with the enforcement of fishery regulations on the disputed crabbing grounds in Boundary Bay. Being a Ranger at North Cascades National Park, Nehring utilized Station Bellingham personnel and Search and Rescue platforms to conduct small boat/search and rescue training for rangers on Ross Lake and Lake Chelan National Recreation Areas; showing the Coast Guard Ensign in places that would not normally see the Coast Guard colors.
For Nehring, his two careers were intertwined.
“The two services have very similar missions,” he said.
In March 1993, Nehring transferred to Station Umqua River in Winchester Bay, Ore., as part of a transfer to Crater Lake National Park as a district ranger. As the Coast Guard was reducing the number of drilling reservists, Nehring was the only drilling reservist at Station Umpqua River and served as station watchstander, the only qualified emergency medical technician on board, Boarding Officer and crewman/coxswain on the Rigid Inflatable Boats and 30-foot surf boat.
Three years later, in May 1996, Nehring was transferred to Mount Rainier National Park and subsequently assigned to MSO Puget Sound and worked in the Prevention Division where he obtained Boarding Officer, Security Boarding Officer, Facility Inspector and Pollution Investigator qualifications.
Nehring was selected to become a Chief Warrant Officer in January 1999 and he remained at MSO Puget Sound where he served as Assistant Team Leader and Team Leader of weekend 2. He attended the Chief Warrant Officer Indoctrine training at the USCG Academy in November and December 1999. CWO Nehring was called up for active duty immediately after 9/11 and conducted security boardings in the Puget Sound area for three months.
In March 2006, CWO Nehring was transferred to Naval Coastal Warfare Unit 33 in Everett, Wash., where he served as the Anti-terrorism – Force Protection Officer until January 2011. During his tenure there he witnessed three change of commands, AT’s to Korea (Operation Foal Eagle), Hawaii (Operation Rimpac), Operation Northern Outlook (which assisted in netting 20 pounds of cocaine in Canadian waters), and numerous field exercises and gunshoots.
Nehring will continue to serve as the East District ranger at Mount Rainier National Park and remains at home in Enumclaw with his wife Pat.