The Coast Guard Hell Roarin’ Legend Michael Healy – Violent, Belligerent, Effective

Michael “Hell Roarin'” Healy

Those who tried to come up against Michael Healy, soon came to regret it. He was not interested in being challenged. His leadership style was one that did not accept any excuses, and was said to be more on the violent side.

Forceful Leadership

People have claimed that those who did not fall in line were hung by their feet or hands in the ship’s hull, which was one way he stopped many mutinies. He was also fiercly protective of the native Alaskans.

He protected them at all costs and would become confrontational and violent if needed. The entire 30,000 miles of Alaskan coast were his to police.

In the 1890s, he had several courts martial under his belt for drunk and disorderly behavior. He was then sent a trial board for drunk, abusive behavior toward junior officers.

The board wanted to cut him loose, but the Secretary of the Treasury John Carlisle had him transferred to shore duty for four years. His punishment was also made public and was read on every ship.

It was Healy’s first time back on land in almost 42 years. Before this, Healy though people were trying to push him out of the service, and shore duty made him think it was true.

Back on the Sea

When his four years were up, Healy was made the commanding officer of the McCulloch. But his wife became sick. He soon was given order to go to the Cutter Seminole which was in Boston.

Healy felt that this new assignment was another punishment. His family had made their lives on the west coast and now they would have to leave.

However, Healy’s mental health did not fare well with the new order. He threatened to kill himself while still on the McCulloch. The day after the threat, he tried to jump overboard, but was stopped by Second Assistant Engineer J.J. Bryan.

After that incident, he was relieved of command, but 1st Lt. P.W. Thompson. He was under guard in his cabin while Thompson reached out to the Treasury.

However, on July 10, 1900, he tried to jump overboard again. Two days later, he tried to use a piece of glass to kill himself. He left the service in 1903 at the mandatory retirement age, and settled in Coloma, California. He died of a heart attack in 1904.

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