When Brendan Kaufman was just a teenager he visited a Coast Guard Station while visiting Maine with his grandparents. From that day on he imagined himself serving our country while sailing the seas. When he is not protecting our coastlines he is out on the water or rooting for the Phillies from Virginia.
DCM: Where are you from?
KAUFMAN: I am from Delaware County, Springfield.
DCM: Have you lived there your whole life?
KAUFMAN: No I grew up in Upper Darby. I went to elementary school in Bywood.
DCM: What is your rate in the Coast Guard?
KAUFMAN: I am an IT.
DCM: What is a typical day like for you?
KAUFMAN: Basically I manage the computers and satellite communications on board a 270-foot cutter stationed out of Port Smith, Virginia.
DCM: When did you enlist?
KAUFMAN: I enlisted April of 2007.
DCM: How old were you?
KAUFMAN: I was 23.
DCM: So you are stationed off the coast of Virginia right now?
KAUFMAN: Iím stationed out of Port Smith, Virginia; itís the home port of our boat. Basically what we do is we go out for two months at a time and come home for two months at a time for a maintenance period on the boat. This is one of those two-month down periods when weíre home.
DCM: How long have you been doing this?
KAUFMAN: About two and a half years now. Two and a half years Iíve been stationed at this unit. I was at a small boat station in Eatons Neck, New York, Long Island. I went to Coast Guard School in Petaluma, California; itís about a half hour north of San Francisco. I was in school for about a year.
DCM: When was that?
KAUFMAN: February of Ď08 I got to Petaluma and was there until December of Ď08.
DCM: Have you been home to Springfield?
KAUFMAN: Iíve been home three or four times for holidays and stuff.
DCM: But most of your time is spent elsewhere?
KAUFMAN: I live in Virginia Beach now.
DCM: What has been the most challenging part of your career?
KAUFMAN: Thatís an interesting question. I guess on one of our patrols, what we do when we go down we usually go down to the Caribbean to Columbia, Venezuela, Haiti and stuff. On a couple of patrols we catch these Haitian migrants trying to migrate to the United States. Weíll catch them on a 30 or 40-foot boat and thereíll be 200 to 250 of them just crammed on there. And I guess just dealing with that mentally is pretty tough. We take them on board our boat and we feed them and we repatriate them to Haiti. But just doing that job is pretty mentally demanding and the 15 hour days of loading them off the boat and taking them from their boat, to a small boat, to our boat and getting them documented and fed. Other than that the most demanding part for me would have to be school, school was pretty tough. Itís a pretty wide spectrum of IT-oriented material that you have to learn in a very condensed amount of time.
DCM: Why did you decide to enlist?
KAUFMAN: Actually I was in Bar Harbor, Maine with my grandparents when I was 14 or 15 years old. And we went to a Coast Guard Station up there and from that day on I always thought it would be a cool career path. And Iím a water kind of guy, I love boats, I love fishing, I love being out on the water. Thatís the beauty of the service; no matter where you get stationed youíre going to be near some big body of water.
DCM: How do you spend your down time?
KAUFMAN: I play a lot of golf. We play a lot of recreational sports, softball and golf. I do a lot of fishing, I go down to the Outer Banks and go tuna fishing pretty often. Other than that, just whatever 27-year-old kids do. Watch a lot of sports, watch a lot of Phillies. They start in a couple hours.
DCM: Are you going to watch the game?
KAUFMAN: I certainly am.
DCM: What has been the most rewarding moment for you?
KAUFMAN: Probably when we get a big drug bust. Weíve caught a couple of people running two to three hundred pounds of cocaine from Columbia to Venezuela and getting that bust and arresting those people and taking those drugs. Other than that, getting promoted, graduating boot camp, all the obvious stuff.
DCM: Have you received any medals or awards?
KAUFMAN: Yeah, Iíve got a whole bunch of them. I got awarded a Best Shipmate Award out of boot camp. Thatís probably the most prestigious thing I got. But we get all sorts of awards that the whole crew gets when we accomplish a mission or get a big bust or something like that.
DCM: What did you have to do to get that?
KAUFMAN: Thatís an award thatís given out as voted by the other recruits that youíre in boot camp with. Itís not really based on any academic or physical achievements but itís voted for by your peers, which is what kind of makes it relevant.
DCM: Has Delaware County been supportive of you?
KAUFMAN: I was actually in the 4th of July Parade in Media. I rode along with a Veterans group and considering I donít live there and Iím just a blip on the radar I guess I could say so.
DCM: How long do you plan on staying in the Coast Guard?
KAUFMAN: I am re enlisting in October, hoping to get stationed in D.C.
DCM: Any plans after that?
KAUFMAN: Well Iím going to school right now online and Iím trying to just bide my time until I can finish school and take it from there.
DCM: What are you going to school for?
KAUFMAN: Information System Security.
DCM: What is that?
KAUFMAN: Network security, networking for stuff here, classified communications.
DCM: How do you respond to being called a hero?
KAUFMAN: Well initially I would say itís kind of flattering, but at the same time I donít think Iím any more of a hero than anybody else. I would reserve that title a lot more for the guys that are overseas in Afghanistan. But at the same time we have Coast Guard personnel in Bahrain and other locations. Mostly I would say itís flattering and it feels somewhat undeserving.
DCM: Do you plan on returning to Delaware County soon?
KAUFMAN: As soon as leave permits I would say.