Clayton “Clay” Cameron Jr. – Vietnam and Cuban Missile Crisis – US Coast Guard
Clay Cameron Jr. joined the Coast Guard after graduating from high school in Alexandria, Virginia in 1960. Born and raised in the area, Clay had many childhood experiences with the Coast Guard that influenced his decision to join that branch. By the fall of 1960, Clay arrived at Training Center Cape May for boot camp. He came just in time to be a part of a short-lived experimental training cycle that featured the use of Marine Corps drill instructors instead of the customarily utilized Coast Guard instructors.
Clay completed boot camp and transitioned directly to Radioman school at the Coast Guard Training Center at Groton, Connecticut. It was at this school he specialized in Morse Code, which was the mainstay of nautical communication during that time. Following Radioman school, he transferred to his first unit, Radio Norfolk for one year and then to Radio Baltimore for another year. His roles at the radio stations included listening for communications of mariners in distress and coordinating search and rescue efforts. While at his Norfolk assignment, he was tasked to fill a temporary vacancy as the Radioman on board the USCGC CHEROKEE, where he witnessed the arrival of a Cuban freighter on which the crew mutinied to claim asylum in the United States.
Following his state-side billets, he was ordered to Honolulu, Hawaii to fill a Radioman Second Class billet on the CGC BERING STRAIT (WHEC-382). Clay describes patrols that included stops in Japan. His most memorable experiences involved riding out a major typhoon and the tracking of a formation of Soviet bombers transitioning westward.
Clay finished his time with the Coast Guard as a Radioman First Class (E6) with precisely four years and four months of service and decorated with the Coast Guard Good Conduct Medal.
Bio prepared byÂ Shannon P. Reck, MMH
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Bio prepared by Shannon P. Reck, MMH