James enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard at 22 years old and attended boot camp in Cape May, NJ. His first duty station was working on deck force on the heavy icebreaker USCGC Polar Star out of Seattle, Washington. He traveled on that ship around Point Barrow, Alaska breaking ice to keep the commercial shipping lanes open. He also hosted engineers from Phillips Petroleum Company who ran tests for oil digging, and a team from National Geographic. He was ice bound for three months.
After that, he attended cooking school in Petaluma, CA and when finished, James was appointed to another icebreaker—the USCGC Storis out a Kodiak Alaska. He performed fishing law enforcements for 3-1/2 years on the Storis patrolling the Bering Sea and the Bering Straits.
“I look back fondly on all of those experiences,” James comments, “and consider myself very lucky to have had those experiences and served with those crews.”