Lt. j.g. Tod Storie sits in the pilot's seat of a C-130 Coast Guard aircraft, Wednesday. Storie went from serving in the Marine Corps to the Coast Guard.

William F. West/The Daily Advance

Lt. j.g. Tod Storie sits in the pilot's seat of a C-130 Coast Guard aircraft, Wednesday. Storie went from serving in the Marine Corps to the Coast Guard.

Branch to branch, Storie makes easy transition

By William F. West

The Daily Advance

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Lt. j.g. Tod Storie was looking for new challenges, so after serving about six years as an aviator in the Marine Corps, he joined the Coast Guard.

Storie, who flies the massive C-130 aircraft out of Air Station Elizabeth City, entered the Coast Guard via the Direct Commission Aviator Program. The purpose of the program is to meet Coast Guard aviation staffing needs by seeking trained and qualified military pilots from other services.

Storie, 33, reported to Elizabeth City in December 2011. He said that he is the midst of a four-year tour of duty and that he is in the Coast Guard for the long haul.

Storie recalled that putting on his Coast Guard uniform the first day after having worn the uniform of a Marine was a bit of an unusual experience, but he said that the transition from the Marines to the Coast Guard wasn’t difficult.

However, Storie is experiencing one difference, as was evident when he was on duty at the air station last week: He had a pager with him so he could quickly respond to any search and rescue calls.

“You never know when it’s going to go off,” he said. “There’s a lot of uncertainty. You never know when a SAR case is going to go on.”

Storie said that, while in the Marines, he knew many times when a mission was going to occur. He said that, in the Coast Guard, one has to be able to go with the flow and to expect the unexpected.

Aviation seems to be in Storie’s blood.

Storie’s is originally from Conway, Mo., which is along Interstate 44 and the expressway’s historic predecessor, the former U.S. Highway 66.

Storie’s father, Sam, served two decades in the Army and also served for a few years as an Army reservist.

The father, a retired staff sergeant, was an aviation mechanic to the southwest at Springfield, Mo., with his specialty being helicopters.

Storie remembers being able to see the aircraft up close and to get to sit in a pilot’s seat.

Storie went to what today is called the Missouri University School of Science and Technology, where earned a degree in psychology in 2003.

He said his father was a key factor in his decision to go into military service.

So, while he was a student, he spent two summers receiving Marine officer candidate training at Quantico, Va.

He recalled choosing the Marines because he was young and enthusiastic and also because he wanted to fly. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant.

After receiving flight training at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., and advanced flight training at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas, he earned his wings shortly before Christmas 2005.

Storie was a C-130 pilot stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, from which he hauled cargo and refueled aircraft.

Additionally, he served two tours of duty in Iraq, from February 2007 to August 2007 and from July 2008 to February 2009. He also said he went in and out of Afghanistan a couple of times.

Storie, as he did at Cherry Point, hauled cargo and refueled aircraft, but he also medevaced wounded personnel.

Storie told of piloting a C-130 while the aircraft was shot at by insurgents. He said that he and his team members weren’t hit, but he said that, “It’s not a very good feeling.”

When not in the Middle East, he was back at Cherry Point.

After his second tour in Iraq, he decided to return to Corpus Christi, this time to serve as a primary flight instructor.

“I enjoyed the teachers I had when I left flight school and told myself if I ever got a chance to go back and do it, then that’s what I was going to do,” he said.

As Storie thought about his future, he heard from fellow former Marine pilots who had joined the Coast Guard.

He said what appealed to him about the Coast Guard was the chance to not only continue serving the nation, but to also help protect citizens and resources.

And in addition to helping assisting Coast Guard helicopters on search and rescue missions, he goes out on anti-drug missions in the Caribbean and in Latin America.

While at Elizabeth City, he sees former fellow Marines he had served with because they, too, are presently serving at the air station.

For Storie, being at the Harbor of Hospitality also means being back in eastern North Carolina again.

Stroie and his wife, Jennifer, have four boys, ages 10, 8, 6 and 3 years of age, and a girl, who is 2 years old.

Storie said he and the family, in addition to enjoying Elizabeth City, spend quality time in Virginia’s Hampton Roads area. They also enjoy Dismal Swamp State Park and going to the Outer Banks and Merchants Millpond State Park.