(Note this is a work in progress and therefore always incomplete)
Regrettably many of the historical links listed below are broken after the Coast Guard changed their computer systems.
When she steams into the harbor
People don’t flock ’round like bees;
For she ain’t no grim destroyer,
No dark terror of the seas.
And there ain’t a load of romance
To the guy that doesn’t know,
In a ship that just saves vessels
When the icy northers blow.
But the men that sail the ocean
In a wormy, rotten craft,
When the sea ahead is mountains
With a hell-blown gale abaft;
When the mainmast cracks and topples,
And she’s lurching in the trough,
Them’s the guys that greet the “Cutter”
With the smiles that won’t come off.
When the old storm signal’s flyin’,
Every vessel seeks a lee,
“Cept the “Cutter”, which ups anchor
And goes ploughing out to sea,
when the hurricane’s a-blown’
From the banks of old Cape Cod
Oh, the “Cutter”, with her searchlight,
Seems the messenger of God.
– author unknown
Coast Guard’s Song “Semper Paratus”
Alexander Hamilton, Letter of Instructions to the Commanding Officers of the Revenue Cutters, 4 June 1791
They will always keep in mind that their countrymen are freemen, and, as such, are impatient of everything that bears the least mark of a domineering spirit. They will, therefore, refrain, with the most guarded circumspection, from whatever has the semblance of haughtiness, rudeness, or insult. If obstacles occur, they will remember that they are under the particular protection of the laws and that they can meet with nothing disagreeable in the execution of their duty which these will not severely reprehend. This reflection, and a regard to the good of the service, will prevent, at all times a spirit of irritation or resentment. They will endeavor to overcome difficulties, if any are experienced, by a cool and temperate perseverance in their duty–by address and moderation, rather than by vehemence or violence.
Coast Guard Compass Series on the heroes Fast Response Cutters were named for
The following was lifted whole cloth from the following site:http://www.flagguys.com/coastguard.html
Some definitions and thoughts on the meaning and importance of the US Coast Guard:
“The Coast Guard occupies a peculiar position among other branches of the Government, and necessarily so from the dual character of its work, which is both civil and military. Its organization, therefore, must be such as will best adapt it to the performance of both classes of duties, and as a civil organization would not suffice for the performance of military functions, the organization of the service must be and is by law military. More than 120 years of practical experience has demonstrated that it is by means of military drills, training, and discipline that the service is enabled to maintain that state of preparedness for the prompt performance of its most important civil duties, which are largely of an emergent nature.”
Captain Commandant Ellsworth P. Bertholf [as quoted in Robert Johnson, Guardians of the Sea (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1990), p. 33.
Bertholf discussed the inherent differences between the Coast Guard and the Navy as well as indicating why the Coast Guard should still, however, remain a “military service”:
“. . .the fundamental reasons for the two services are diametrically opposed. The Navy exists for the sole purpose of keeping itself prepared for . . . war. Its usefulness to the Government is therefore to a large degree potential. If it performs in peace time any useful function not ultimately connected with the preparation for war, that is a by-product. On the other hand, the Coast Guard does not exist solely for the purpose of preparing for war. If it did there would be, of course, two navies–a large one and a small one, and that condition, I am sure you will agree, could not long exist. The Coast Guard exists for the particular and main purpose of performing duties which have no connection with a state of war, but which, on the contrary, are constantly necessary as peace functions. It is, of course, essentially an emergency service and it is organized along military lines because that sort of an organization best enables the Coast Guard to keep prepared as an emergency service, and by organization along military lines it is invaluable in time of war as an adjunct and auxiliary to the Navy. . . .while peace time usefulness is a by-product of the Navy, it is the war time usefulness that is a by-product of the Coast Guard.”
[As quoted in Robert Johnson, Guardians of the Sea, (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1988), p. 59.]
What is the origin of the saying “You have to go out, but you do not have to come back”?
A: A letter to the editor of the old Coast Guard Magazine written by CBM Clarence P. Brady, USCG (Ret.) which was published in the March 1954 (page 2) issue, states that the first person to make this remark was Patrick Etheridge. Brady knew him when both were stationed at the Cape Hatteras LSS. Brady tells the story as follows:
“A ship was stranded off Cape Hatteras on the Diamond Shoals and one of the life saving crew reported the fact that this ship had run ashore on the dangerous shoals. The old skipper gave the command to man the lifeboat and one of the men shouted out that we might make it out to the wreck but we would never make it back. The old skipper looked around and said, ‘The Blue Book says we’ve got to go out and it doesn’t say a damn thing about having to come back.'”
Etheridge was not exaggerating. The Regulations of the Life-Saving Service of 1899, Article VI “Action at Wrecks,” section 252, page 58, state that:
“In attempting a rescue the keeper will select either the boat, breeches buoy, or life car, as in his judgment is best suited to effectively cope with the existing conditions. If the device first selected fails after such trial as satisfies him that no further attempt with it is feasible, he will resort to one of the others, and if that fails, then to the remaining one, and he will not desist from his efforts until by actual trial the impossibility of effecting a rescue is demonstrated. The statement of the keeper that he did not try to use the boat because the sea or surf was too heavy will not be accepted unless attempts to launch it were actually made and failed (underlining added), or unless the conformation of the coast–as bluffs, precipitous banks, etc.–is such as to unquestionable preclude the use of a boat.”
This section of the Regulations remained in force after the creation of the Coast Guard in 1915. The new Instructions for United States Coast Guard Stations, 1934 edition, copied Section 252 word for word as it appeared in 1899. [1934 Instructions for United States Coast Guard Stations, Paragraph 28, page 4].
General Coast Guard History:
Timeline for evolution of the Coast Guard: http://www.uscg.mil/history/faqs/when.asp
Before there was a Coast Guard (prior to 1915):
“Prudence, Activity, Vigilance, and Strict Integrity are the desiderata,”Hopley Yeaton, the First Commissioned Sea-Going Officer of the Federal United States?–Bill Wells
Female Lighthouse Keepers
Revenue Cutter Ingham (1835)
“IN THE FACE OF THE MOST GALLING FIRE: The Revenue Cutter HUDSON at Cardenas Bay,” William R. Wells, II ©1997
Tribute to Hudson’s CO: USS Newcomb DD-586
Formation through WWII (1915-1945):
Busting Smugglers and Breaking Codes (during Prohibition)
The Book of Valor–List of awards for service in WWII
After WWII (1945-present):
Video, “USCG Alaska Patrol(1958)”
The United States Coast Guard in South East Asia During the Vietnam Conflict, by Eugene N. Tulich, USCG
Vietnam, Two short histories of Coast Guard Operations:
Guardians of the Gulf: A History of Coast Guard Combat Operations in Support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2002-2004 (pdf)
William H. Thiesen, PhD, June 2009
PATFORSWA: Guardians of the Arabian Gulf, by Lt. Eric D. Nielsen
The Dutch in the Medway–Rudyard Kipling
If wars were won by feasting, 0r victory by song, Or safety found in sleeping sound, How England would be strong! But honour and dominion Are not maintained so. They're only got by sword and shot, And this the Dutchmen know! The moneys that should feed us You spend on your delight, How can you then have sailor-men To aid you in your fight? Our fish and cheese are rotten, Which makes the scurvy grow-- We cannot serve you if we starve, And this the Dutchmen know! Our ships in every harbour Be neither whole nor sound, And, when we seek to mend a leak, No oakum can be found; Or, if it is, the caulkers, And carpenters also, For lack of pay have gone away, And this the Dutchmen know! Mere powder, guns, and bullets, We scarce can get at all; Their price was spent in merriment And revel at Whitehall, While we in tattered doublets From ship to ship must row, Beseeching friends for odds and ends-- And this the Dutchmen know! No King will heed our warnings, No Court will pay our claims-- Our King and Court for their disport Do sell the very Thames! For, now De Ruyter's topsails Off naked Chatham show, We dare not meet him with our fleet-- And this the Dutchmen know!
“Waters Deep” by Eileen Mahoney
“In Ocean waves no poppies blow
For when they lived They choose the sea.”