U.S. Coast Guard Ethos

A Coast Guard air crew member helps transport a critically injured child from the helicopter to awaiting emergency medical services at Port au Prince, Haiti, Aug. 15. (Lt. David Steele/Coast Guard)

I don’t remember having an ethos when I was in the Coast Guard. We just tried to do our jobs as best we could, and we were proud to be a part of the service. I am not sure having one published, changes the way we act, but the new Coast Guard Strategy includes a new ethos, which prompted me to compare the old with the new. Have to say, I like the new one better.

The Old Version:

I am a Coast Guardsman.
I serve the people of the United States.
I will protect them.
I will defend them.
I will save them.
I am their shield.
For them I am Semper Paratus.
I live the Coast Guard Core Values.
I am proud to be a Coast Guardsman.
We are the United States Coast Guard.

Ten lines, “I” nine times, “We” once, 57 words.

The New Version:

In Service to our Nation 
With Honor, Respect, and Devotion to Duty 
We protect 
We defend 
We save 
We are Semper Paratus 
We are the United States Coast Guard  

Seven Lines, no “I”, “We” five times, 29 words.

Short and to the point is always better, and I like the shift from “I” to “we.”

5 thoughts on “U.S. Coast Guard Ethos

  1. Honor, Respect, and Devotion to Duty were made up corporate tag lines from the 1990’s. Those terms have no historical context to the Coast Guard, the Lifesaving Service, or the Revenue Cutter Service, yet the current Coast Guardsmen have had those words shoved down their collective throats for the past 20 years. Somehow, today’s CG personnel think they are part of the Coast Guard’s history.

    Honor, Respect, and Devotion to Duty were often times used during a Captain’s Mast, to justify the giving out punishment to those the command had already had determined was guilty of some charge.

    Where’s Bill Wells – he’ll give us historical context.

  2. Yep seems like all we have in the Coast Guard now is word salads, anyone know how to cancel the subscription to the blue line. Nothing of substance in that magazine. Would like to do something for our environment by cancelling it, one less tree they have to destroy

  3. I believe this new ethos formally cancels the term, “Coastguardsman”. A term that dates back to our founding. I wonder what will replace it? What do we call a person serving in the Coast Guard, past or present? I remain proud to be a retired Coastguardsman, Shipmate, and Cutterman.

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