In 1951, a young Arnold Palmer left Wake Forest University, traveled north to Washington, DC and enlisted in the United States Coast Guard. His roommate had just been killed in an auto accident, and he “just needed to get away”, he said.

As an official member of the USCG, he was transferred to Cape May, New Jersey, where he served as a lifeguard.

He also taught judo and hand-to-hand combat training for six months.

“The military isn’t just restrictions and military duties, it’s learning, and it’s very important that young people have that opportunity to … know themselves a little better. And I think the military helps put that in the right perspective.”

Palmer passed away at his home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Sunday. He was 87.