When Chris Bast joined the United States Navy, he also joined a family legacy. Not only was he a third-generation sailor, but he became a third-generation Naval Aircrew Rescue Swimmer, tasked with saving lives during rescue and humanitarian missions. Bast, senior process lead-warehouse distribution at Molson Coors’ Milwaukee brewery, served six years in the Navy and is one of more than 500 U.S. military veterans working at Molson Coors.
With his call sign “C-Bas,” Bast, who earned the rank of petty officer, second class, worked primarily with H-60 helicopters – Seahawks – and was stationed in Atsugi, Japan, where he did the equivalent of four tours in three years.
He told us a bit about his military experience.
What was your proudest accomplishment while serving in the military?
It takes two years and six different schools to become a rescue swimmer. At that time, rescue swimmer school had a 74% drop-out rate, so when I finally received my gold Aircrew Wings and received my orders for forward deployment at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, my father, who was a rescue swimmer for over 16 years, was the one who tacked my wings on my uniform. It was such a special moment for me.
What influenced you to enlist?
It was a combination of things. The Global War on Terrorism was still hot and heavy, just three years after 9/11. I had that strong sense to serve our great nation. It’s also a family tradition to serve, not just in the Navy, but as a rescue swimmer. From my grandfather, father, uncle and godfather. And lastly, I really wanted to travel, see the world, be adventurous, and meet and work with people from other cultures. And being forward deployed in NAF Atsugi, I was able to see every country in the Pacific, and work alongside multiple crews from various nations.
How do you honor Veterans Day?
I’ll golf with a few friends that also served, and a couple of guys I met from the Veteran Golf Association. This year we are golfing at Whistling Straights. I will also reach out to a lot of comrades that I served with, who are still serving or are veterans, as well.
How can others support veterans?
Honestly, the simplest and most heartwarming thing that I know almost every veteran appreciates is just a thank you. To a veteran, saying that goes a long way. But other ways to help support vets include visiting a local VA hospital or even donating to the many veteran support groups out there. I volunteer for Team Rubicon, which is a veteran-led group that assists with disaster relief and humanitarian crises across the nation.
Why was it important for you to join Molson Coors Veterans Group?
It brings a community together. Veterans are always passionate about helping each other, within and outside the brewery and the local community. It allows for great access to resources and information, and is a great way to network. And lastly, it really brings veterans, spouses and supporters all together from all branches.
It unites people from different backgrounds, and there is always this shared camaraderie. It’s a place where those that may feel alone don’t have to, with the transition to civilian life or PTSD, because there is that support there to help those through whatever struggles they may be facing.
Many veterans have gone through those same struggles, and its good to know that you are not alone. There is that support and raised awareness, and you always find, more often than not, that you can build long-lasting relationships with one another.