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Monday, February 3, 2014

A Tale Of Two Hats

Even though the last twenty of my thirty years in the Coast Guard saw me wearing a suit instead of a uniform, I always took pride (and still do) in a sharp uniform.

Here at the J. Strom Thurmond COE, all the rangers have uniforms, yep, even with the Smokey Bear Hat, but the volunteers don’t have a real uniform.  Each volunteer is given a red vest with a name tag.


On the vest is a patch identifying the person as a COE volunteer.


On nice sunny days, with warm weather, we wear the vest so we are highly visible to the people we meet out around Thurmond Lake.


But recently, for a strange reason, we’ve been bundling up.  Something about a Polar Vortex that keeps making unwanted visits to the Southern states.

When bundling up, our vests are under the coats and jackets, they really aren’t large enough to wear over them, the vests are more designed for warm weather or indoor use.

My concern when we are out walking around COE boundary lines is our visibility to the people we encounter, which usually means fumbling to open up our coats to show the vest and the COE volunteer patch.

Being in a part of the country where firearms are prevalent and there is a distinct possibility of a “shoot first-ask questions later” encounter when we come walking along the woods, or even through someone’s property, I wanted a faster and more recognizable way to identify ourselves to the people we meet. 

Ergo, a nice U. S. Army Corps Of Engineers hat would certainly be a fast way to show our identity.  I asked our ranger boss if I could buy a couple of COE hats.  He said yes I could, except the uniform supply system was having problems and none of the rangers had been able to get any uniform items for quite a while.  He had no idea when the problem would be resolved.

So I decided to take action myself, after all, I don’t want a butt full of buckshot.  I researched on line and found a place where I could have two hats custom made for Marti and me.  I placed the order and we sat back to wait.  And wait.  And wait. 

The order was shipped via FedEx Ground.  Not the fastest way by any means, but it should have taken about a week.  Little did I know that FedEx also uses the U.S. Post Office to make the final delivery.

Following the package via its tracking number, I was dismayed to find out that once the package was delivered to the Post Office, it would take an additional three to five business days for the package to show up in the mail.  Sheesh!

The day finally came, and our package arrived.  Inside were the two hats, making ourselves readily identifiable.


We donned our new hats and headed in to the COE office.  I wanted to show our hats to our ranger boss.

We walked into the office, with our hats off in our hands, ready for the big reveal.  As soon as the ranger saw me, he said he had something for me.  He opened his desk drawer and said these just came in.  Duoh!


So now we have two hats.  I guess we’ll use our custom made hats for the dirty work and the the other one for more “formal” occasions.

We’ve been working hard on the COE school water safety program with a great team of volunteers putting together informational brochure packages.  We’ve sent packages out to over fifty schools offering to bring our free water safety program to their students. 


We (the team) are developing the actual course, something that will appeal to elementary and middle school children.  Our finished course will be about 30 minutes, with cartoons and life jackets to try on that hopefully will make an impact on the kids, and maybe even save their life.

It’s been a lot of work, but we’re happy to do it.

And Marti seems to prefer writer’s cramp to falling down into ravines in the woods!  ;c)


Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.



  1. Both hats look nice and if one gets shot off, you have a spare! Seriously, that's a good idea. Some folks might take exception to unidentified folks skulking around the edges of their property. The water safety course also sounds like a good idea. Good for you guys.

  2. Just like the old days, you now have winter and summer cover.

  3. Is that kind of like two heads are better than one and two hats to cover one head are better than one.

  4. Well you knew that was going to happen, didn't you? :) It's just one of those mysteries of life. If you hadn't ordered those hats, the others wouldn't have shown up for years! :)

  5. Red color jacket and black cap looks nice.

  6. See now, it would never have occurred to me that I might get an arse full of buckshot (or worse) but it's either because I'm a naive city slicker or naive Canadian. You pick.
    I suppose I'd go with "high viz" during hunting season though. That much I know.

  7. Yep, I agree with Gail & Bob. It was almost geared to happen & in Canada we most likely would never think of being shot at. I've always had a preference towards dark colored hats. Maybe it's cause they don't show the sweat & dirt so much. At least if you visit the northwest sometime you can't be accused of going 'Hatless In Seattle'. (Movie:))

  8. I love the hurry up and wait story with getting something delivered. Been there done that. You are definitely "covered" now with two sets. I think we need a picture of you two in your "dress" uniform.

  9. Never fails, you order your own hats and they others show up.
    They both look good.

  10. You will definitely look very hatsome!

  11. It seems I've come a little late to this party, and all the hat jokes have been covered. I'm just surprised you chose a pink hat!

  12. I hope we get just as spiffy as that hat! You may have started a trend :-)

  13. I like both hats, but how are you going to wear them at the same time?

  14. We're just glad you have a highly identifiable symbol so you aren't the target of some yahoo;o((( We don't like the idea of you two being a target!!! Just be careful...too many crazies in this world today:o((

  15. Great hats... and spares? LOL

    We got a box of vests when we hosted at High Cliff and could pick out good fitting ones for over tshirts, and then when it was cool evenings, there were larger ones to fit over our jackets. When the month was done, I washed them all and had them back in the box for the next hosts.

    annnnddd right now the box of vests is here in my diningroom!!! Why? Because Steve and I volunteered to go over all the paperwork, files, and equipment and host a CampHost Orientation this spring for all the new hosts coming up this summer..... Little did I know I would be heading up this program! LOL

    Karen and Steve
    (Blog) RVing: The USA Is Our Big Backyard

  16. It's always nice to have choices. You need to match your outfit of the day.

  17. Don't get me started on the USPS ... at least your hats finally showed up ... we're still waiting for some documents to be delivered, and no one can tell us where they are or how soon we'll be getting them.

    As for the hats ... güle güle kullanın, as they say in Turkish (meaning, wear it with laughter).

  18. Let me try, PDD - Paul Dahl Doublehats :-)