Dad's Death Compels Daughter To Join Coast Guard
by U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Mikaela McGee
September 4, 2023
Fireman Molly Schoenstein, a 19-year-old from New Jersey who is stationed aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Forward (WMEC 911), which is homeported in Portsmouth, Virginia. Schoenstein has joined her fellow crew members for a portion of the cutter’s two-and-a-half month Arctic patrol between early July and late September to support U.S. partners in the high northern latitudes.
They have, thus far, visited Canada and Greenland while carrying out training exercises with Canadian and French maritime forces.
August 21, 2023 - U.S. Coast Guard Fireman Molly Schoenstein aboard U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Forward (WMEC 911) while underway in the Atlantic Ocean. Forward deployed on an Arctic patrol, which will be Schoenstein's last before she departs the unit for yeoman technical training in Petaluma, California. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Mikaela McGee.)
Schoenstein loves her two cats “Mamassss” and “Pickles” as well as her dog “Stella.” She enjoys listening to music, playing sudoku, and keeping her stuffed animals in tow. Her favorite hobby is fishing, and she has a strong appreciation for marine life and the maritime environment.
Although appearing petite and shy, Schoenstein’s fiery energy, inherited from her late father, burns just beneath the surface. What most people don’t know is that Schoenstein’s father died last year after a long struggle with addiction. It was this tragedy that compelled her to join the Coast Guard.
“My dad was an addict and passed away January 3, 2022,” Schoenstein said. “I always knew I wanted to join the military but was never sure which branch. I learned about all the cool Coast Guard missions, including search and rescue, maritime environmental protection, and most importantly to me, the counter-drug mission.”
Only nine months after her father’s passing, Schoenstein graduated from boot camp with her company, Uniform-202, and a plan to make the service a career.
This is Schoenstein’s last deployment aboard Forward before she departs the cutter early for technical training at Coast Guard Training Center Petaluma in California.
“I came in changing my mind about a few different rates, only sure that I wanted to stay in the Coast Guard for a full 20 years,” said Schoenstein. “After boot camp, I worked in the Recruit Servicing Personnel Office in Cape May, New Jersey. It was there that I saw yeoman as a job I could have ... after a military career ... but this way ... I get the military benefits. I also want to be a mom and have a family someday, so I feel this rate would be the best choice to balance my job and loved ones.”
Transitioning to technical training is a significant step for non-rated personnel but can be a bitter-sweet experience.
“I’m excited to go, but sad I’m missing the rest of this once-in-a-lifetime patrol,” she said.
“At least I can say I’ve seen icebergs!”
After graduating from yeoman training, Schoenstein intends to leverage one of the service’s many benefits: tuition assistance. She plans to one day earn a degree in teaching.
The Coast Guard’s missions and those in its ranks make a difference every day. You too can make an impact.
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