Jean Livin’ the Coast Guard Dream

Jean Livin’ the Coast Guard Dream

Mrs. Jean Chittenden joined the US Coast Guard 70 years ago at the age of 20. Chittenden was stuck at a dead end job as a clerk but wanted to do more. So Jean and her friend signed up for the Coast Guard out of a desire to attend college. With the support of her family, some of whom had served in the military, she was off to Palm Beach, Florida where she would be trained.

IMG_0476While in Palm Beach, Chittenden took a radio operating test to see if she could be a Radio Operator, and she passed. She was then sent to finish training in Atlantic City, New Jersey where she learned Morse code and typing. After finishing training, Chittenden was assigned to a Coast Guard radio station in Gates Mills, Ohio.

From Gates Mills, Chittenden and another woman were assigned to the Coast Guard Air Station in Traverse City, Michigan, where they were originally unwanted for being women but were the only two Radio Operators who were qualified for the job at the time. Although unwanted at first, Chittenden said, “The two of us were like the little sisters of the group.”

After two years in the Coast Guard, WWII was over, and Jean was discharged. The whole reason behind joining was to go to college, so she applied to schools and was accepted by the University of Missouri.

One of the biggest lessons Jean took away from the Coast Guard and her travels was that no matter where you go, there are always people who care and want to help. She also said the Coast Guard instilled a very positive, can-do attitude.