The Slades of surf, salt and stations

Story and photo provided by Coast Guard Academy Cadet Hailey Thompson

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Senior Chief Petty Officer Scott Slade takes an environmental portrait in front of Coast Guard Station Bodega Bay. U.S. Coast Guard by Cadet Hailey Thompson.

Bodega Bay, California, is a spectacular place. A turquoise lagoon surrounded by flowering bushes and scrub pines creates quite the backdrop for a Coast Guard surf station, which is one of only 20 designated surf stations in the United States.

Station Bodega Bay recently received a new officer-in-charge during a change-of-command ceremony May 22, and his story is just as spectacular as the beautiful setting of the station. Senior Chief Scott Slade is a Coast Guardsman originally hailing from Ohio. It was not until vacationing in Florida that Slade was first exposed to the Coast Guard. Slade said he had glimpsed an 82-foot Coast Guard cutter while fishing and immediately thought that it looked like something he would be interested in. After a few years of “messing around with college,” Slade decided it was time to join the Coast Guard. After boot camp, Slade reported to Coast Guard Station Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina.

In Wrightsville Beach, Slade found a passion for search and rescue. Learning to operate the Coast Guard’s thrilling and challenging 47-foot motor lifeboats helped Slade to realize that his true goal in the service was to become a surfman. Over the years, he did just that, serving as a surfman in multiple stations throughout the Pacific Northwest after leaving North Carolina.

When asked to reminisce about his most challenging cases, Slade did not tell dramatic tales of getting thrashed about in the breaks. He spoke more of the endless hours spent in twilight towing dilapidated vessels to shore when the crew was worn and exhausted after a long rescue. It was those moments, Slade said, where one could see the goodness of the crew. The not-so-glamorous moments were when their determination and devotion to duty truly shone through.

He met and fell in love with his wife, Chief Warrant Officer Beth Slade, who is one of only six female surfmen in the Coast Guard, in Cape Disappointment, Washington. His wife became commanding officer of Coast Guard Station Golden Gate June 26. The couple and their three children made a home for themselves in the Pacific Northwest, spending several years at an assortment of stations and cutters until recently. This summer the opportunity to colocate in California arose, and the Slade family transferred to the Bay Area. Senior Chief Slade took command of Station Bodega Bay May 22, and CWO Slade became commanding officer of Coast Guard Station Golden Gate June 26.

Both his career and the story of their incredible family are inspiring to any Coast Guardsman, but Senior Chief Slade admitted that the two years he and his wife were not colocated were the most difficult of his career.

“Everything is easier when you’re with your family,” he said.

Senior Chief Slade clearly draws a great deal of positivity from his home life, and he brings it with him every morning as he goes to the station.

Coast Guard Station Bodega Bay crew members tow a 14-foot vessel near Doran Beach in Bodega Bay, Calif., Wednesday, April 29, 2015 after it was disabled along the South Jetty off Bodega Head.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class James Walker.

Coast Guard Station Bodega Bay crew members tow a 14-foot vessel near Doran Beach in Bodega Bay, Calif., Wednesday, April 29, 2015, after it was disabled along the South Jetty off Bodega Head. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class James Walker.

“Each day I have to arrive with a smile. If I can make everyone feel like they are the most important person as I speak to them, in that moment I’ve succeeded. Our attitudes are everything, and as an OIC, I have the ability to influence the entire unit’s attitude.”

Senior Chief Slade’s philosophy is clearly successful as indicated by his career, but it’s surprisingly simple.

“The mission will take care of itself,” he smiled. “Once they have a direction, all I have to do is take care of my people. They make the rest happen.”

 

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