Our Local Coast Guard — The Bone Family

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Submitted/Since 2010 Matt and Jenny Bone have been living in Egg Harbor Township with their daughter Regan, 4, and their son Mason, 2. Submitted/Since 2010 Matt and Jenny Bone have been living in Egg Harbor Township with their daughter Regan, 4, and their son Mason, 2.

Get to know your local Coast Guard. This is a monthly installment featuring locally stationed Coast Guard families.

When Matt Bone walked into This and That Uniforms in Pleasantville more than a decade ago, he thought he was just getting his last name embroidered on his Coast Guard uniform by the store clerk, Jenny. Little did he know, Jenny would soon wear the same uniform with the same last name.

Jenny grew up in Egg Harbor Township and met Matt during his first tour of duty at Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City. They got married in July 2004.

Shortly thereafter, the two left New Jersey en route to Matt’s new assignment in Houston. About a year later, Jenny spoke to a recruiter about enlisting in the Coast Guard. She arrived back in South Jersey at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May for boot camp in May 2005. After completing her eight weeks of basic training, Jenny went back to Texas wearing the uniform.

 During their time in Texas, Matt deployed to New Orleans in support of the response to Hurricane Katrina where he took part in the well-known rooftop rescues, for which he was awarded the Coast Guard Air Medal. He and his fellow crewmembers picked up 224 people in distress.

 “We were picking people out of the water in between power lines and we were hoisting next to a house that was on fire,” Matt said.

 Matt mentioned a sign at the air station in New Orleans displaying the number of lives saved for the year, which was about 100 not including those saved from Katrina. After saving 224 people in a three-day period, it really put things in perspective for Matt.

 After being stationed in Texas, Matt and Jenny served a tour of duty in North Bend, Ore., before getting stationed once again in South Jersey at Air Station Atlantic City. They’ve been back since June 2010, living in Egg Harbor Township with their daughter Regan, 4, and their son Mason, 2.

They say the most challenging aspect of their life is dealing with deployments. As an aviator assigned to Air Station Atlantic City, Matt frequently deploys to the National Capital Region — gone for a few weeks, home for a couple of months, and so on. It’s challenging to be away from his family, he says, and he applauds Jenny for serving dual roles while he’s away.

“I feel like I have to be the rock star at work and also bake bread and fresh cookies at home,” said Jenny. “That’s the hardest thing, is being Mom and Dad for a few weeks at a time.”

 Jenny said the most challenging example of playing both parts came in late June 2012, when a derecho – a straight-line windstorm – slammed South Jersey. They lost power for five days, Matt was deployed to the NCR, their son Mason was just 2 months old, Jenny’s maternity leave was set to expire, and she had a large supply of mom’s milk to preserve. She loaded up the kids at 5 a.m., headed to BJ’s and bought the last generator in stock.

“That was the roughest,” said Jenny. “You know what though? I swear, something about being put in a situation where you have to get it done, you’re 10 times stronger than you ever believed you were.”

At work, Jenny is a storekeeper first class. She’s the air station’s warehouse inventory manager, responsible for supply accounting, and shipping and receiving. Matt is an aviation maintenance technician first class. He’s a flight line manager within maintenance control, which is the hub of all helicopter repair work at the unit.

Matt and Jenny balance their demanding work schedule with their enjoyment of family togetherness and community involvement.

Jenny plays football on the Jersey Shore Powder Puff League. She’s a quarterback for Think Ink’s Jersey Devils, which meets at Lawrence "Bud" Kern Memorial Field in Somers Point. Matt teaches Sunday school at Gospel Grace Ministries, where Jenny’s dad is the pastor. Matt is also a right fielder on the church’s softball team.

 Matt and Jenny’s daughter, Regan, dances at Encore Performing Arts Center and takes classes at Bright Stars Gymnastics Academy. Their son Mason loves going to Tony Canale Park at least twice a week.

 One of Jenny’s sisters, Jodi, recently joined the Coast Guard Reserve as a food service specialist. She’s assigned part time to the Coast Guard boat station next door to the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City. Jenny mentored her sister through the enlistment process and was awarded a Letter of Commendation for her recruiting initiative.

 Matt and Jenny recognize their good fortune for being stationed near so many family members. They are, however, up for reassignment in 2015. Where they will go they just don’t know. They are open to the future, along for the ride.

Read previous installments HERE.

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