Americans know him as the founder of J. D. Power and Associates, the widely quoted market research firm that tracks customer satisfaction in the auto industry and for dozens of other products. But to crew members on board the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eastwind (WAGB-279) in the mid-1950s, Dave Power was the youthful ensign who had never been to sea before and got off to a bad start with the skipper. He ultimately became a savvy officer of the deck and executive officer, but it wasn't all smooth sailing. Here's how he pulled it off.
I joined the Coast Guard for three good reasons. It was the smallest of the military services, and I thought I'd probably get more out of it. I'd never been on a ship, and the prospect of sea duty seemed as though it would be an adventure. The Korean War was winding down, too, and the other services had no openings.
Getting started wasn't glitch-free. There was a three-month delay, during which time I worked in a pick-and-shovel job for the New England Power Company. Then I spent 120 days in officer candidate school. By February 1954, I had become an ensign, about to go on active duty.