William Thiesen

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The Last of the Coast Guard's MIAs

By William Thiesen 2018-09-24 17:42:05

Last week saw the annual observance of the National Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Recognition Day. Of the service’s three known MIAs, two may still be frozen in Greenland’s ice cap. Like many selfless Coast Guardsmen, Lt. John Pritchard (left) and Petty Officer First Class Benjamin Bottoms, a radioman, went in harm’s way to save lives only to sacrifice their own. “Johnny” Pritchard graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 1938 and earned his wings...

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The Coast Guard's Largest Overseas Unit

By William Thiesen 2018-09-17 15:53:56

Naval operations supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) began with the U.S. Navy in the summer of 2002. The Navy drew on its plans for combat operations in Iraq, and in September 2002, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) requested U.S. Coast Guard support. Preparations for Coast Guard deployment moved quickly. In October, the service’s Atlantic Area Command (LANTAREA), headquartered in Portsmouth, Virginia, created a deployable detachment to oversee personnel, supply and maintenance needs for patrol boat operations in the Arabian...

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Baptism of Fire: The Rescue of the SS Mirlo

By William Thiesen 2018-08-17 14:48:31

One hundred years ago, on the afternoon of Aug. 16, 1918, British tanker SS Mirlo was steaming through wind-swept seas north of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. At about 4:30 p.m., a torpedo from German U-boat U-117 ripped into her hull, shooting up a column of water. The hit was seen seven miles away by the lookout at the Chicamacomico Coast Guard Station in Rodanthe, North Carolina. Flames leaped into the sky as a cargo of fuel gushed out of the Mirlo's hull...

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The USCG's Maritime Security Forces

By William Thiesen 2018-06-28 13:48:40

With the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the War on Terror set in motion dramatic changes to the Coast Guard. Prior to the 9/11 attacks, U.S. ports, waterways, and coastlines were protected primarily by Coast Guard boat stations and cutters. Immediately following September 11, Coast Guard resources were reallocated to fill the additional maritime security functions required in a post-9/11 environment. In 2002, President George W. Bush signed the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) to protect the nation’s ports...

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Captain Mike Healy: Tamer of America's Western Sea Frontier

By William Thiesen 2016-06-07 00:33:05

By William Thiesen, Atlantic Area Historian for the U.S. Coast Guard The colorful Captain “Hell Roaring” Mike Healy, famed skipper of the Bear. U.S. Coast Guard photo.  “When I am in charge of a vessel, I always command; nobody commands but me. I take all the responsibility, all the risks, all the hardships that my office would call upon me to take. I do not steer by any man’s compass but my...

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