One day after flying over Elizabeth City, NC, Commander William F. Coty III witnessed one of his Coast Guard buddies being interviewed about their current mission. When asked what mission they were …
One day after flying over Elizabeth City, NC, Commander William F. Coty III witnessed one of his Coast Guard buddies being interviewed about their current mission. When asked what mission they were executing, his friend said, “we’re looking for anything in the water that’s not water.”
It's been many missions and years since that interview, but Coty remembers the hilarious comment which speaks to his good nature and humility. A moment like this is something he wants to talk about just as much, or more, than any of his accomplishments during his 29 years of service.
On the day of Commander Coty’s retirement from the military, a UH-1 Huey and UH-60 Blackhawk flew side by side over the US Coast Guard Base on Cape Cod. The two aircrafts flying together represented the breadth of Coty’s career, which took him from the enlisted ranks of the Army Air Guard to the heights of being a field grade officer in the Coast Guard. From his years on the grounds of Norwich University as a cadet to his time in the deserts of Iraq as an Army company commander, Coty lives up to his father’s description of him as an “All-American Kid.” He is someone who has put service above self for the bulk of his life and can hang up his rank knowing that he went above and beyond in his contribution to the furtherance of American democracy and its goals.
Coty’s military career began in the days immediately following his graduation from Pilgrim High School when he enlisted in the Army National Guard as a private. Coty looks back on his initial decision to serve, crediting the inspiration to his father’s military service, to his friends that enlisted and to the success of Operation Desert Storm, which he described as a “picture perfect combat operation.”
From there, Coty attended Norwich University, a college that trains cadets to become military officers in the branch of their choosing. For his four years at Norwich, Coty balanced the rigor of the military academy with monthly trips to Warwick where he would train with his National Guard unit. At the end of his Norwich experience, Coty chose to commission into the Army. His 14 years in the Army took him to the skies above Fort Rucker, Alabama, where he learned to fly UH-60 Blackhawk and UH-1 Huey helicopters – one of the most coveted and competitive roles in the entire military. He also completed deployments to strategically-vital South Korea, and went with the 15th Military Intelligence Battalion to Macedonia, Kosovo, Jordan and Kuwait. He rounded out his service in the Army as an operative in the War on Terror, specifically serving as a Combatant Company Commander in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Notably, Coty received a Bronze Star for completing his company’s mission with no loss of casualties or assets during this deployment. The mission was that of managing UAV drones and collecting intelligence that led to the neutralization of Qusay and Uday Hussein, Saddam Hussein’s sons.
Looking to transition from the Army to another role in defending the United States, Coty was selected for a prestigious role in the FBI. However, owing to his prior experience with flying helicopters, he opted to segue into the Coast Guard, where he translated his skill as a Blackhawk pilot into his new role as a duty standing MH-60J Helicopter Instructor Pilot / Flight Examiner. From there, Coty climbed the ranks in the Coast Guard just as he did in the Army, ascending to roles as an MH-60J/T Platform Engineer and Instructor Pilot/ Flight Examiner and as a Military Aide for the Deputy Commandant of Operations. The latter role placed Coty at the apex of all national Coast Guard operations -- the United States Coast Guard Headquarters in Arlington, Virginia – where he worked side by side with a 3-star Admiral. Commander Coty’s feats during his time in the Coast Guard also led to stories about his career being published in the novels “A Storm too Soon” by Michael Tougias and “Norwich Heroes” by Randy Miller. “A Storm too Soon” recounts the mission of Commander Coty and his comrades to rescue three sailors off the coast of North Carolina during sub-tropical storm, Andrea. A video of this mission can be found on YouTube under the name, “Read the book, ‘A Storm too Soon.’ USCG rescued three sailors, sub-tropical storm Andrea on 5/7/2007.”
The final stop of Coty’s 29-year military career was the Cape Cod Coast Guard Base, where he served on the Cape Cod Aeronautical Engineering Team. He retired from the service at this same location on Friday, July 8. With a multitude of attendees, his retirement ceremony was described by Speaker Joseph Shekarchi as a “beautiful culmination of his entire military career from Norwich all the way to the Coast Guard” and “a powerful tribute to his family.” The large attendance speaks to the widespread impact Commander Coty had over the course of his military career. “150 to 200 people came from far and wide. His rescue missions were honored as well. He had saved peoples’ lives,” Shekarchi said.
“It’s nice to see a fine young man make good from Warwick and it was great to see him recognized by such important dignitaries,” Speaker Shekarchi elaborated, referencing the presence of a 3-star Admiral at Commander Coty’s retirement.
After recalling the 2007 rescue mission that would become a subject of Michael Tougias’ novel, Coty said, “there are other heroes out there,” nodding toward the sacrifices and bravery of other military personnel. He said that no duties he executed during his time in the service were conducted with a desire for publicity and that his goal isn’t to have articles or books written about his service. Rather, he says, “I’m doing this because of my dad.”
As Coty moves onto the next phase of his life as a Delta Airlines pilot, he is excited to “transition to civilian life and take this whole new experience in,” speaking to the increased time he will be able to spend with his wife, Dawn, daughter Maggie, 23, and son Will, 20. Coty and his wife will be living in the village of Forestdale on the Cape, where Coty will be close to the grounds of the Cape Cod Coast Guard Base, where he completed the home stretch of his military service.
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