Veterans Day 2015: SCPO (Ret.) Willy Bethea

Senior Chief Petty Officer (Ret.) Willy Bethea poses for a photo aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Munro.  Beathea served 28 years in the Coast Guard before retiring in Kodiak, Alaska.

Senior Chief Petty Officer (Ret.) Willy Bethea poses for a photo aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Munro. Beathea served 28 years in the Coast Guard before retiring in Kodiak, Alaska.

Honoring those who have served in the Armed Forces is observed each year on November 11. These men and women come from all walks of life, span from every corner of America, and made the commitment to serve their nation.

Growing up in a small town in Cortez, Colorado, Willy Bethea always dreamt of one day leaving to travel and see the world. Willy eventually decided the best way to do this was through joining a military service and enlisted in the Coast Guard.

From Boston, to Oregon, to Florida, to California, back to Florida, to Louisiana, Hawaii and eventually to Alaska, Willy’s 28 year Coast Guard career had him moving to a new place roughly every three years.

“It was a great time,” said Willy. “I was often doing more than just one thing. I was a gunner’s mate. I did electronics, engineering and I was a cook.”

Willy has parlayed many lessons he’s learned and positive attributes that come with a career in the military, to his civilian job with Kodiak’s community non-profit radio station, KMXT.

“I think that’s why I like working here, at the radio station, is because I do a little bit of everything,” said Willy. “My official job title is assistant programming director, but I also do on-air shows. I do programming, editing and a lot of maintenance. I even plunge toilets.”

On Veterans Day, Willy will be broadcasting a special show for the community of Kodiak that will feature a discussion on veterans and patriotic music. In fact, he often puts together special programs for other patriotic holidays, such as Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. Even though he has been out of the military for almost a decade, he still holds dear the almost three decades that he served.

“We are very rare breed of people, that’s something that I’ve really learned about people in the military,” said Willy. “We do whatever we have to do as a team.”

Willy’s final tour with the Coast Guard was on the Cutter Munro, which is homeported in Kodiak, Alaska, and is where he would eventually settle down and call home.

“I chose Kodiak because we figured it was going to be the last tour and this would be a great place to raise the kids,” said Willy. “And it was. It turned out to be a really great place for them to grow up and move on.”

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