This Veterans Day— Don’t Forget the Real Heroes: American Coast Guard Chefs who served in the late 1980s

By: Terry Brunt (dictated to, and transcribed by: J.B. Stevens)

In his landmark 1993 Washington Times op-ed, Richard Grenier wrote, “People sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”

America’s Independence was secured by these rough men. Patriots, willing to cast off the chains of colonial oppression, throw tea in a harbor, and shoot dandy Europeans in the face. America won her freedom in a storm of violent change—led by veterans.

The current world situation feels very similar, transformation is in the air. At the intersection of the pandemic, climate concerns, law enforcement struggles, protests, and a crashing economy, the entire universe (America) is caught in a swirling tempest. Things are crazy and no one is sure how to react. Right now, the world needs to lean on Grenier’s proverbial “rough men”. The type of men that will stare into the abyss and say, “Not today, Satan.” The world cries out for a hero, a true watchman. Who amongst us can, or will, answer this call?

You, dear reader, must lean on these glorious patriots. Veterans are the calm within the storm. When the barbarians are at the gates who did citizens turn to? The legion. When the wolves threaten the flock, who do sheep run to? The sheepdogs. When Obama required the baddest of the bad taken out, who did he call? Seal Team 6. In the 1930s, when Mother Europe cried out, who did she solicit? The Allies. When the secessionist idiots of Dixie got froggy, who did Lincoln call upon to jump? The Union Army. That brings us to today, who will you call? Nurses? Laughable. Doctors? Ridiculous. Essential workers? Comedy.

You need a true savior. The Rough Man, the Sheepdog, the Warrior. A Man of the Blade. These are the heroes eager to keep evil at bay, the one you require.

I am one of these men. I honorably served, in the United States Coast Guard, as a chef, from June 3, 1989 to July 4th, 1991. This period was the height of the Cold War. Look back at these two key words: WAR and SERVE. For this reason, I always wear my Cold War Veteran hat and display my custom Veteran license plate. Outward signs, allowing civilians to know where to run when the wolves start howling. I am the light in the darkness. I am the shepherd of the flock. I am your shield.

My service, as a military chef, ensures I am a master of the blade. The world’s problems stand no chance against my cut. I’ve studied knives, lived with them. While you civilians were smoking dope and fornicating, I existed with steel. Who can you turn to when the restaurants shut down and civil strife takes over? Who among us has the combat, and culinary, skills I embody? Only me. I am legend.

Going forward, when the well-meaning, but ill-informed, sheep of the world thank Doctors and Nurses for their “service”— think about the true heroes: late 1980s Coast Guard Cold War Veteran Chefs. All gave some, some gave all. Thank you for your service isn’t just some platitude. It is a sacred phrase, a string of words that keeps men, like me, motivated. Men willing to give the ultimate sacrifice.

This Veterans Day— remember the true heroes. The rough men ready to do violence. 

Men like me.

P.S. I think saying “thank you for your service” to any non-veterans is cultural appropriation and that is a really big deal right now, so fair warning.

J.B. Stevens lives in the southeastern United States with his wife and daughter. He is a crime fiction writer, poet, memoirist, and book reviewer. He won Mystery Tribune’s inaugural micro fiction contest. His work has been published by Thriller Magazine, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, and many others. He can be found online at and on Twitter @iamjbstevens.

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