continued “We went to Wagner College and developed a course for stress driving and safe driving,” he said. “It cut down on the rate of accidents significantly.”
What struck Dames the most was watching many of the younger people on the Coast Guard, some of them being 17- or 18 -year olds, being pulled into active duty under Title 10, who had never before experienced death and destruction on such a large scale. He said it mentally attacked them, not only because of what they were witnessing, but also what they were leaving behind.
“All of a sudden they’re pulled into the military fold making a fifth or 10 percent of what they were making as a civilian,” he said. “It created frictions and problems with not getting a lot of time off. It caused problems at home, and I had to try and get in there and mediate things.”
About five to six weeks later, when things began calming down around ground zero, the Coast Guard began sending people home. Dames said it was difficult to get people home to their families because many of them didn’t have the cash to get home. He said he remembered shelling out around $1,800 in cash out of his own pocket to get kids home to visit their families.
Dames briefly mentioned some of his experiences during CSSC’s Remembering Those Who Keep Us Safe event, Wednesday, Sept. 7, at the Beltrone Living Center, but said that most of it was things he didn’t want to remember.
CSSC Executive Director Ed Neary said he started the ceremony with member John Defiggos as a remembrance event. The event was soon expanded to honor the many first responders in the area, but this year it was meant to honor one of its own.
“I think it’s a reminder that we can never feel too safe,” he said. “The potential is always there. It’s encouraging that people, especially the first responders, are here to help us out.”