Coast Guard Auxiliary Celebrates 77 Years
[By Commodore Fred Gates, Deputy National Commodore for Information Technology and Planning]
Today, the Coast Guard Auxiliary celebrates 77 years of continuous service. The Auxiliary serves as a force multiplier to the U. S. Coast Guard, working alongside active duty and reserve shipmates performing similar tasks and has units all throughout the nation – including all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Guam. As uniformed civilian volunteers, its 28,000 members give freely of their time and talents.
When the Coast Guard “Reserve” was authorized by act of Congress on June 23, 1939, the Coast Guard was given a legislative mandate to use civilians to promote safety on and over the high seas and the nation’s navigable waters.
Two years later on February 19, Congress amended the 1939 act with passage of the Auxiliary and Reserve Act of 1941. Passage of this act designated the Reserve as a military branch of the active service while the civilian section, formerly referred to as the Coast Guard Reserve, became the Auxiliary under title 14, chapter 23 of the United States Code.
The Auxiliary’s missions support Coast Guard operational, administrative, and logistical requirements. They promote and improve recreational boating safety, as well as provide a diverse array of specialized skills, trained crews and facilities to augment the Coast Guard and enhance the safety and security of ports, waterways, and coastal regions.
Auxiliarists not only offer administrative support at Coast Guard stations, but they stand radio watches, cook food, are an extra set of hands for the engineers, observe ice flows by air, and participate in drills to keep Coast Guard men and women proficient.
They teach boating safety classes, conduct free vessel safety checks, and help marina owners receive the latest Coast Guard regulations and policies. During times of natural disasters, qualified Auxiliarists augment Incident Command Centers.
The Auxiliary conducts safety and security patrols, performs search and rescue missions, and responds to pollution incidents. The organization assists during mass casualty or other emergency situations, assists with homeland security and serves as platforms for boarding parties. Auxiliarists perform commercial fishing and vessel exams, and recruits for the Coast Guard.
Today, we thank them for their service, in all of its many forms, and we hope you’ll join us in wishing them a happy seventy-seventh birthday.