William Thiesen

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Jack Cullen, Nazi Spies and the Founding of the USCG Beach Patrol

By William Thiesen 2019-09-16 21:16:04

"His keen presence of mind and discerning judgment in a grave emergency undoubtedly prevented the successful culmination of hostile intrigue designed to sabotage our national war effort." - Legion of Merit Medal citation, Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class John C. Cullen, 1943 The accolades above recognize John C. Cullen, one of the first and only enlisted men to receive the Legion of Merit Medal during World War II. In 1942, he became the first American to encounter a foreign enemy...

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The Cutter Bear and the Arctic Expedition to Save 265 Whalers

By William Thiesen 2019-09-13 13:59:56

"If you are subjected to miserable discomforts, or even if you suffer, it must be regarded as all right and simply a part of life; like sailors, you must never dwell too much on the dangers or sufferings, lest others question your courage."  - Lt. David Jarvis, U.S. Revenue Cutter Service, 1898 Revenue Cutter Service officer David Henry Jarvis wrote the above quote in his diary journaling the Overland Relief Expedition, considered one of the most spectacular rescues in...

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The USCG's Environmental Mission 30 Years After Exxon Valdez

By William Thiesen 2019-07-26 12:41:55

Thirty years ago on Good Friday, March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez steamed into a reef at 12 knots, opening eight of her 10 oil storage tanks to the pristine waters of Prince William Sound, Alaska. The resulting spill of 15 million gallons of crude oil became the largest discharge of oil in U.S. waters until 2010’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster.  Nearly 170 years before the Exxon Valdez ran aground, the Federal Government assigned the United States Revenue Cutter Service, predecessor of the modern Coast...

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The Yankee Clipper: The U.S. Coast Guard's Last Battle Before WWII

By William Thiesen 2019-06-21 22:31:50

Hitting the East Coast over 80 years ago, the Great New England Hurricane was one of the most destructive storms to strike anywhere in the United States up to that time. Also known as the “Yankee Clipper” and “Long Island Express,” the 1938 hurricane caused over $41 billion in property damage and the death of approximately 700 men, women and children. During the storm response, the Coast Guard assisted over 500 vessels and rescued over 1,000 persons. However, the storm...

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William Flores, Hero of the Cutter Blackthorn

By William Thiesen 2019-04-28 15:53:52

That quiet young man that I was impressed with from the first time I met him will forever be a hero in my eyes. I have never forgotten him and never will. It is a fitting tribute to his heroism that a cutter will bear his name. -Lt. Cmdr....

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The Cutter Icarus and the First German Prisoners of WWII

By William Thiesen 2019-04-05 11:05:50

“Contacted submarine. Destroyed same. Lat 34°12 ½” Long 76° 35″. Have 33 of her crew members on board. Proceeding Charleston with survivors.” -Lt. Maurice Jester, Coast Guard Cutter Icarus, May 9, 1942 U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Maurice Jester transmitted the message above after sinking U-352, the second German submarine destroyed by U.S. forces in World War II. Icarus also rescued 33...

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The Coast Guard's First Medal of Honor Recipient

By William Thiesen 2019-03-22 13:07:01

Many with knowledge of service history believe Guadalcanal hero Douglas Munro was the Coast Guard’s first and only recipient of the Medal of Honor. Technically, they would be wrong. In fact, Lighthouse Keeper Marcus Aurelius Hanna also received the Medal of Honor, the U.S. military’s highest recognition for combat heroism.

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100 Years Ago, One Coast Guard Cutter Defied Segregation

By William Thiesen 2019-02-22 10:43:06

Throughout the history of the U.S. Coast Guard, the nation has tasked the service with new missions to respond to all sorts of maritime threats and crisis. Such was the case with the Great Flood of 1913, considered by many as the most devastating flood in U.S. history. In the list of deadly American floods, the Great 1913 Flood ranks only second in number of lives lost. The 1889 Johnstown Flood distinguished itself as the deadliest with approximately 2,200 victims...

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New Cutter to be Named After Heroic WWII Rescue Swimmer

By William Thiesen 2019-02-08 17:18:10

". . . his courageous disregard for his own personal safety in a situation of grave peril was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service." - Navy & Marine Corps Medal citation, Officer’s Steward 2/c Warren T. Deyampert African-American Petty Officer Warren Traveous Deyampert served in the U.S. Coast Guard in early World War II. It was a time when the U.S. military barred African-Americans from...

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A 1943 photograph showing the commandant, Vice Adm. Russell Waesche, during a tour of wartime Coast Guard forces in the field. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Waesche: The U.S. Coast Guard’s Second Founding Father

By William Thiesen 2018-11-23 18:29:13

“Adm. Waesche was largely responsible for the consistent development of the United States Coast Guard from a peacetime organization of approximately 15,000 to a wartime force of more than 170,000 officers and members. Under his supervision, the Coast Guard distinguished itself in supporting landing operations of the Army, Navy and Marines, on convoying merchant ships and in other hazardous tasks.” Navy Secretary James Forrestal, Navy Distinguished Service Medal Citation. The quote above refers to Adm. Russell Waesche, an organizational genius...

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