A Project of the Coast Guard Aviation Association

The Legend Of The Miami Air Station Mongoose

Sy Schiffman, ADC(Ret), USCG

Once upon a time, many years ago, there lived a mongoose at a far-away place called Coast Guard Air Station Miami, at Dinner Key in Florida. This mongoose was fed & trained by two Coastie Airdale Mechanics by the names of AJ Drum & Sy Schiffman.

Well, let me explain, for those who have never been exposed to this highly-trained ‘Attack Beast’. It’s home was a well constructed metal cage-looking affair, with a silhouette of a mongoose on each side.

Also on each side was a Beware Mongoose’ sign. This cage had an open section covered with hardware cloth, & a closed section that had a sort of ‘Spring-open lid. The open section had a tail partially showing, coming out of a hole from the closed section.

Attached to the tail was a wire, which came out of the back of the cage, & was hidden from view. This wire, if properly & gently pulled, would give the tail just a bit of movement. Now, inside the lid of the closed part of the cage was a small furry tail with little eyes glued on it, & hanging on a hook. When, at the proper moment, the spring-loaded lid was released, & the little tail would fly out at anyone standing in front of the cage.
Do you get the picture?

Now it so happened that once a week, a different airline crew would come to the Air Station for a ‘Wet drill’. This mongoose cage was placed on the hood of one of the mules, strategically located, so that when the group was finished with their wet-drill, they would come upon this interesting sight. Either ADI Drum or ADI Schiffman would be standing there to tell the group all about this animal, & if bitten by one, that a person could very well contract rabies. Also, to keep things in their proper prospective, just about all Air Station Personnel would sort of cease work to see what was going to happen next.

After a while of poking a pen through hardware cloth, blowing cigarette smoke, & manipulating the wire to move the tail out into the open section, & as the group gathered closer to the cage, it happened. Yes, the spring-loaded lid was released, the small tail flew into the group, causing screaming, fancy foot-work, pushing, shoving, drink cups flying up in the air, & many other forms of panic & hysteria. And so goes the Legend of the Coast Guard Air Station Miami Mongoose.

The actual, vicious, fearful, mean Mongoose —
Note: This mongoose was later brought aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Steadfast, & ‘Attacked’ all hands on board, one at a time, from the lowest Seaman to the Captain during Operation Buccaneer down in the Caribbean. More on that, later.