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Kearns and Sons

Bitterroot siblings are Coast Guard ‘brothers in arms’

 

brothersPhoto: Brothers Trevor (left) and Travis (right) Capp, residents of Stevensville, and members of U.S. Coast Guard Port Security Unit 313 based in Everett, WA, participate in the Combined Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore (CJLOTS) exercise as part of Operation Foal Eagle 2013 in Pohang, South Korea.

 

By Daniel King, U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class

It might seem unusual for the U.S. Coast Guard to participate in a large-scale, international, military exercise half way around the world in South Korea; however, it is even more unusual for two brothers from Stevensville, Montana, to deploy to South Korea together as members of Coast Guard Port Security Unit (PSU) 313.

Travis and Trevor Capp both served four years on active duty in the U.S. Coast Guard before transferring into the Coast Guard Reserve. The transition from active duty to the reserves brought the brothers to PSU 313 in Everett as members of a deployable operations unit that provides global shore side and waterside security and force protection.

PSU 313 is a 120-member unit, comprised almost entirely of reservists. Since Sept. 11, 2001, PSU 313 has served in support of operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, and New Dawn in Kuwait and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Members of PSU 313 have also assisted in relief efforts following the Haiti earthquake and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill off the coast of Louisiana.

PSU 313 deployed to Pohang, South Korea, in April of this year to conduct port security operations in coordination with Republic of Korea Navy and Marine Corps during a Combined Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore (CJLOTS) exercise as part of Operation Foal Eagle. The U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force also participated in the exercise.

The Capp brothers served as part of the PSU 313’s water side security division whose primary mission in Korea was to maintain safety zones to keep maritime traffic and local fishermen away from a submerged fuel line that extended from Dogu Beach in Pohang, South Korea, to the U.S. Naval Ship Wheeler, located eight miles off-shore.

“If not for the U.S. Coast Guard we could not conduct our mission,” said John Mansfield, captain of the Wheeler. “If the pipeline is damaged we’re finished.”

Freshwater was pumped through the eight-mile pipeline from the Wheeler to a simulated fueling station on shore. In a real-world scenario, the fueling station would provide fuel to military vehicles arriving to the beach from military ships.

As a member of a PSU boat crew, Travis’s primary role in Korea was to help keep local fishermen away from the pipeline throughout the military exercise. Coast Guard boat crews had several encounters with fishermen off shore and were thankful to have Korean interpreters aboard to help ensure the security of the pipeline and safety of the fishermen.

“The (Korean) interpreters were extremely helpful,” Travis said. “Through the interpreters we would ask the fishermen to fish elsewhere and they would pull in their gear and leave.”

As a machinery technician, Trevor helps maintain PSU 313’s six, 32-foot Transportable Port Security Boats (TPSBs).

“I do preventative maintenance on the boats and diagnose problems or issues they may have,” he said.

During the CJLOTS exercise in South Korea, Trevor acted as a duty engineer.

“I’m standing 12-hour watches with the patrol leader as his right-hand man during the day in case anything comes up with one of the boats,” he stated.

Besides South Korea, the Coast Guard has taken Trevor to Hawaii, Virginia, North Carolina, and the Marshall and Samoan Islands. One of the highlights of Trevor’s time on active duty was when he served aboard the 378-foot Coast Guard Cutter Rush as it sailed across the position where the International Dateline and the Equator intersect.

While on active duty, Travis was assigned to the 210-foot Coast Guard Cutter Dauntless in Galveston, Texas.

“On the Dauntless we did lots of drug interdiction out in the Caribbean,” Travis said. “I decided to join the Coast Guard because my goal is to get into law enforcement.”

Travis graduated from Pinecrest High School in North Carolina in 2006 and Trevor graduated in 2008 from Hamilton High School in Montana. Travis joined the Coast Guard after high school and Trevor followed in his older brother’s footsteps once he graduated from high school.

Trevor followed Travis’ lead again when he switched over to the Coast Guard Reserve and joined the PSU.

“When my four years of active duty was up I decided to lateral over (to the reserves) because Travis said how good the PSU was,” Trevor said. “It’s been an awesome experience.”

When not working at the PSU during drill weekends or during their two-weeks of annual training, the brothers work on their family’s ranch in Stevensville.

The Capp brothers are looking forward to going where the Coast Guard takes them next.

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