U.S. Coast Guard Birthday
Protecting the Seas Since August 4, 1790
August 4, 2015 by Jake Butler
Today, August 4, marks the 225th birthday of the United States Coast Guard. With honor, respect, and devotion to duty, the diverse workforce of the USCG has played a vital role in operational readiness, transportation and infrastructure, and tactical support of the military in all of its endeavors over the past 225 years. The Coast Guard patrols and protects our ports, inland waterways, coastlines, and even international waters.
From maritime safety and security to search and rescue operations to support in times of emergencies and natural disasters, Coast Guardsmen have to be trained and prepared to handle a wide variety of vital missions.
So today we say thank you to all the men and women who’ve proudly served over the past 225 years. Happy birthday to the United States Coast Guard!
Did You Know?
To celebrate its birthday, here are five facts you might not know about the USCG.
Alexander Hamilton is considered the father of the Coast Guard
In 1790, Hamilton was the Secretary of Treasury and the United States was still finding its way as a country. In order to generate revenue and grow the economy, Hamilton worked with Congress to create the Revenue Marine, which was later renamed the Revenue Cutter Service. As part of the Department of the Treasury, its initial intention was to enforce maritime laws and collect tariffs. The Coast Guard as we know it wasn’t formed until 1915 when the Revenue Cutter Service and the United States Life-Saving Service merged into one entity.
In its early days, the Coast Guard was the only line of defense at sea
The Continental Navy disbanded in 1790 and the U.S. Navy wasn’t created until 1797. So for seven years, it was the Revenue Marine’s job to protect the coastal regions of the entire country as they were the only armed American presence on the sea. At the time, Barbary pirates were its biggest concern.
The Coast Guard’s most decorated hero
Douglas A. Munro, a signalman first class, remains the Coast Guard’s only Medal of Honor recipient to date. On September 27, 1942 he volunteered to lead a mission to evacuate a group of Marines pinned down by Japanese forces at Guadalcanal. He put his boat in harm’s way to ensure that every last Marine made it out safely. In doing so, he was mortally wounded. He remained true to his duty through the end, evident in his last words: “Did they get off?” In addition to the Medal of Honor, he was also posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, as well as three other medals: the American Defense Service Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Area Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.
Joined by a famous heavyweight boxer
Jack Dempsey, one of the most famous boxers in the country during the 1920s, served in the USCG during World War II. He held the World Heavyweight Championship title from 1919 to 1926, with an aggressive style and impressive power that made him one of the most popular boxers in history. He was commissioned by the Coast Guard in 1942 mostly to boost morale and promote physical fitness. In service, he was part of the crew of the USS Arthur Middleton during the invasion of Okinawa.
Women in service
In 1977, the Coast Guard was the first branch of the Armed Forces to have men and women serving in the same crew alongside one another. The first mixed-gender crews served on two ships: the WHEC Gallatin and the WHEC Morgenthau.