An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

My Coast Guard
Commentary | Nov. 9, 2022

2 cuttermen win 2022 Eight Bells contest to celebrate afloat service 

By Kathy Murray, MyCG Writer

One author spoke of combating a shipboard blaze. Another reflected on standing watch. 

Yet both winners of 2022 Eight Bells writer awards succeeded in capturing the teamwork and camaraderie that makes it special to be a cutterman. 

Chief Petty Officer Melissa Mathis won the Eight Bells poem competition for “Coast Guard Cutter Waesche’s Dance with Fire”. Mathis, based in Alameda, California, was in the combat information center (CIC) when a fire broke out on board Waesche in September 2020. Her poem describes the feelings and experiences of crew members as they worked to control the damage and put out the blaze. 

Chief Warrant Officer John O’Brien won the Eight Bells essay competition for “Four to Greats!”. O’Brien works as the main propulsion assistant aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf, also based out of Alameda. His essay took readers with him to stand underway watch in the engine room, conveying the excitement of a new day at sea. 

Eight Bells – A Sea Service Celebration, has been held annually since 2017 to recognize and remember the hard work done by all who serve on cutters. This includes cuttermen, cuttermen-to-be, and those who work ashore to support cutters.  

The ringing of eight bells signals the end of a watch. It is one of the traditions and routines that have bonded the afloat community together for 232 years. 

This year’s celebration took place on Oct. 18. Members submitted 15 poems and essays from across the Coast Guard. A panel that included members from the Office of Cutter Forces, the Douglas Munro chapter of the Surface Navy Association board, and other esteemed cuttermen, judged the entries. The winning entries are posted on the CG-751 Portal page. (CAC required). 


  • Winner of the 2022 Eight Bells - A Sea Service Celebration ALCOAST 434/22 
  • Eight Bells - A Seas Service Celebration on 18 October 2022 ALCOAST 348/22 

In the News:  

Ding Ding, We Have a Winner – Eight Bells: A Celebration of Sea Service