I have interviewed a soldier in the Coast Guard: “Well despite their arguments to the contrary, all ASTs do eventually die. But usually it is of old age. How many of them die each year is a mystery as nobody keeps track once they retire. Now if you mean how many ASTs currently on active duty die annually conducting operations, that number has been zero for many years (I believe since inception, ASTs help me out) and I hope it will remain so for many years to come.”

“Yes, there have been ASTs that have died in crashes, and each one of the deaths was tragic. However, as I was pointing out, and you apparently missed was I doing not recall any that have died conducting AST operations. In other words where the crew comes home with one crew member lost to the sea a la the final scenes of the Guardian. Which is what the original question seemed too be asking. I was also pointing out that despite the extreme dangers of the job most still live a long and fruitful life.”

“The original question is not a bad question it is a simple question of a how dangerous a job is and how competitive it may be. You may have noticed a thread on point-counter point that argues the pass/fail rate as being a factor for people not signing up for AST School. If I was actually planning to go to that training one of the things I would ask would be how many people die doing this job. That would be a much bigger concern to me. Call me crazy. That is a good question to ask. Perhaps there would be less suicide bombers if more asked the question before taking the job. Nothing wrong with asking the question.”

“I answered the question the way I did because the original question “Does anyone know what the annual mortality rates of USCG AST’s are?” put no parameters on how the rates were measured i.e. operationally, on duty, off duty, after retiring etc. It was too broad of a question.”

“My comment was meant to refine the parameters using a bit of humor to whittle down the parameters to what I believed the poster really wanted to know and to alleviate his concerns a bit simultaneously. It in no way degraded or devalued the lives of ASTs. We all die ASTs are no different. The mortality rate for the human population, no matter who you are is 100%. If you believe otherwise that is a problem.”

“So before you call either me or the original poster idiots again or before accusing either of us holding no value to our lives or lives of others perhaps you should take a deep breath and read it for what it is. Working a buoy deck is actually more dangerous than being an AST. A good question to ask would be how many cases a year, on average, does an AST get into a “dangerous” situation. The answers will probably less than ten and at that the definition of “dangerous” may be narrowly defined. A good review is to sign up for the Coast Guard’s weekly PR list. Read the cases and you’ll see they aren’t that exciting.”

“Look at it the reason we got into this job is to help others. There is no self righteousness in that. I am in no means mourning those who were lost for the rest of my life but has some tact. If you are going to ask how dangerous the job is, then ask with some respect for those who may have paid the ultimate price. Don’t ask if someone dies do you just hire a new one.”