“Semper Paratus.” Latin for “Always Ready.” This is the motto of the United States Coast Guard. Often overlooked for the more “exciting” branches, the United States Coast Guard serves our country in many ways, but the main three roles in which they serve are: maritime security, maritime safety, and maritime stewardship. Of these, many missions include drug interdiction, defense readiness, search and rescue operations, and maritime law enforcement. 

I never really think much of the Coast Guard; not because it’s “boring” or that I’m choosing to overlook the many incredible things they do, but rather because they aren’t as flashy as some of the other branches nor do they ask for that kind of recognition. I’ve found the Coast Guard is very prideful, but also very humble. Their work is what we see the most here in America, especially during natural disasters, yet we somehow don’t know their stories. 

Petty Officer 2nd Class Ashlee Leppert was recognized at the 2018 State of the Union for her heroic efforts during Hurricane Harvey. As an avionics electrical technician, Ashlee was in helicopters performing search and rescue missions all over Houston, Texas during the downpour of Hurricane Harvey. She writes about this in her book The Hurricane Within. The book begins with what an everyday for Ashlee would look like and the routine she had established. You can feel her passion for her job through the pages and it also radiates love for her dog, Mandi Pants. 

Ashlee takes you through her life, both the good times and the bad. And when I say bad, I mean she has a blemish on her record that she is quite embarrassed by, but shares that story so that people can learn from her mistake. The work required from the Coast Guard came naturally to Ashlee with the fast paced thrill of being called out for a search and rescue, ready to be put her training to work. But she reminds the readers of the men and women she has lost in her life from unsuccessful missions during their time with the Coast Guard. 

The details of her time during Hurricane Harvey can only come from someone who took it all in as it was happening, not taking a single moment for granted. Among the first wave of responders, Ashlee saw the absolute worst of the storm. Making her way through chest-deep water to rescue four elderly people and hoisting up a woman with what looked like a ton of blankets, but turned out to be a bunch of babies was not as routine as her normal day of work but it gave her an intense feeling of grace and empowerment. This is the plan that God has made. 

The days she takes you through during her time in Houston were heartbreaking to read knowing so many lives were affected and what she could see from up above. She has pictures from her time in Houston and the stories of strength and perseverance from the pilots, swimmers, technicians, and members of the Houston community will inspire you. 

Ashlee touches on what it was like to meet President Trump and sit next to Second Lady of the United States, Karen Pence, at the State of the Union. Her life hasn’t been easy, but she has made something of herself. She shares her experiences of happiness, life, loss, and trying times. If you or anyone you know wants to join the Coast Guard, the rewarding work they do is highlighted in this book. It is a must-read for people who are interested in the work our military does. 

Get your copy of The Hurricane Within by Ashlee Leppert here.

This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

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Caroline C.
FFL Cabinet Member
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