Coast Guard Auxiliary turns 73
Posted by PA1 Elizabeth H. Bordelon, Friday, June 22, 2012
Written and posted by Seaman Ivan J. Barnes
Before the Allies stormed the beaches of Normandy, they answered the call of duty, long before it was a video game. Some were born ready and others were made ready by events that occurred in our nation’s history, but the results were all the same. Alongside active duty and reserves, the Coast Guard Auxiliary, are the essence of Semper Paratus.
In 1939, Congress passed the Coast Guard Reserve Act, which allowed civilians to contribute to the safety and security of our citizens, ports and waterways. Then, on Feb. 19, 1941 Congress redesignated the Coast Guard Reserve as the Auxiliary and authorized the Auxiliary to support all Coast Guard missions, other than those related to direct engagement in either law enforcement activities or military combat operations.
Traditionally, a rich cake with 73 candles would befit a celebration for this annual occasion. But, there is not a cake big enough in size to match the dedication Auxiliarists have given to the nation. We acknowledge the 32,000 force multipliers who volunteer their time providing a safe boating experience for recreational boaters all across the U.S.
As America’s maritime citizen first responders, Auxiliarists perform safety and security patrols, assist with search-and-rescue operations, pollution response and Homeland Security. In more recent events, the Auxiliary have served in a range of capacities in support of Deepwater Horizon spill response operations, including more than 5,000 hours checking the readiness of vessels participating in cleanup operations, monitoring deployed booms and supporting Coast Guard command centers.
“The Auxiliary are an amazing group of people,” said Chief Petty Officer Nicholas Alphonso, executive petty officer, Coast Guard Station New Orleans. “They help to augment the crews for search-and-rescue cases, which allow us to dedicate more time to training and answering distress calls.”
In addition to the coastal missions, they also offer a wide range of boating safety courses designed to enhance boater knowledge and prepare boaters before they take to the water. Courses offered to the public include boating safety, sailing skills, seamanship training, boating fun and several other advanced boating classes.
Auxiliarists define devotion to duty to the fullest extent. These men and women won’t receive the benefits associated with active duty members and won’t get nearly enough attention for the work they do. They work for free, use their own boats, pay their own expenses, and most importantly, devote their time.