What you didn’t know about our Staff: The Regimental Officer

 By Seaman Jennifer Nease, Training Center Cape May

Lieutenant Commander Scott Rae, regimental officer of Training Center Cape May, NJ. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Jennifer Nease

Lt. Cmdr. Scott Rae, regimental officer of Training Center Cape May, N.J. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Jennifer Nease.

Meet Lt. Cmdr.Scott Rae, the regimental officer of Training Center Cape May. He helps supervise and mentor our future Coast Guardsman.  He is also heavily involved in community outreach as well.  You may have recently read a Compass article that mentions a project he ran at the local Cape May Elementary School. Rae leads many of our educational outreach efforts as the Partnership In Education coordinator. However, there’s a side of Rae that many people don’t know.

Just 13 years after joining the Coast Guard, Rae and his 24-man crew aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Adak etched another chapter into the Coast Guard’s combat history.

“It never crossed my mind to join (the Coast Guard) until I was 24 years old,” admits Rae, who joined the Coast Guard in 1990.

Before joining the Coast Guard, Rae earned a bachelor’s degree in Finance from Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mich. After graduating college, Rae pursued his dream job of stock brokering, but he realized he hated it after six months. While trying to figure out what to do, he did what many bummed out college graduates do – he moved to the beach.

Rae became a lifeguard in Fenwick Island State Park, Del. Day after day, he observed Coast Guard operations at Coast Guard Station Indian River Inlet, Del., which was only three miles away. After a summer of bar tending and lifeguarding, he decided, “I need to do that Coast Guard thing,” and sought out the nearest recruiting office. He reported to Training Center Cape May three months later.

Fast forward 12 years to October 2002, the Coast Guard was told to ship four 110-foot patrol boats to the Middle East to support the U.S. Navy. This would go down in history as the first combat deployment of U.S. Coast Guard patrol boats since the Vietnam War. Rae, a recent graduate of Coast Guard Officer Candidate School, was executive officer aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Adak. As duty called, Rae left behind his wife and 10-year-old daughter without any idea when he would return home.

“Plan for a year they told us,” explained Rae. The crews of the 110-foot island class patrol boats conducted four months of pre-deployment and overseas training in Portsmouth, Va.  After completing the rigorous pre-deployment training, the cutters were loaded aboard a Military Sealift Command ship bound for the Middle East. The crews met their ships in Bahrain where the U.S. Navy’s 5th fleet is located.

The Coast Guard was called in because the service can project significant naval force in near shore or littoral waters.  The U.S. Navy and Coast Guard were among a fleet of 146 coalition vessel participating in the invasion.  When the war started, the Adak was ten miles off of Iraqi soil – the furthest most deployed maritime unit. Coast Guard Cutter Adak was located in the Khawr Abd Allah Waterway, which separated Iraq’s western boarder and Kuwait’s eastern border. 

Rae (front left) with his crew of Adak.

Rae (front left) with his crew onboard Coast Guard Cutter Adak. Coast Guard photo.

“For 48 hours, we could hear aircraft and bombings, and it was our job to secure river boat traffic and protect the marines who were conducting what became known as the largest amphibious assault since the Korean War,” said Rae “It was pitch dark, and our crew was scared to death.”

After the amphibious assault, Coast Guard Cutter Adak and the USS Chinook picked up an Iraqi vessel on the radar. the Adak’s crew ordered the vessel to anchor, and a special boarding team composed of U.S. Navy and Australian explosive experts searched the tug and barge and discovered mines under fuel drums.

After coalition aircraft destroyed the last Iraqi Patrol Boat sending three Iraqi Sailors into water, the crew of Adak rescued the men and took the first maritime prisoners of war during Operation Iraqi Freedom. As executive officer of Cutter Adak, then Lt.j.g. Rae, had become a part of history.

The crew of Adak turned over the prisoners to the Austrailian Navy, and then spent ten days acting as a force protection lead for U.S. Navy minesweepers as they swept the Khawr Abd Allah Waterway. This mission required the crew to risk their lives by navigating an uncleared channel in front of the minesweepers to protect them from enemy fire.

Coast Guardsmen aboard Coast Guard Cutter Adak received the combat action ribbon for their bravery.  Currenlty, Rae’s combat experiences in the fleet better prepare him for mentorship opportunities when interacting with the recruits and training staff. Now you know Lt. Cmdr. Scott Rae, one of the many men and women who help shape the future of America’s Coast Guard.

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