5 awesome things to know about the U.S. Coast Guard’s history for its upcoming anniversary

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For over 230 years, America’s first line of coastal defense has been the United States Coast Guard in one way or another. Whether it was protecting the country’s waterways, rescuing mariners at sea, or enforcing maritime law, the Coast Guard was there.

While other branches of the Armed Forces joke about whether their “Coastie” brethren are in fact a branch of the military (they are), the Coast Guard continues to quietly ride the dual mission of serving as military force abroad and a law enforcement agency at home.

It can be hard to understand how this branch of service manages to do all this without knowing a few key facts and awesome stories about its history. With the Coast Guard’s 232nd birthday on August 4, 2022, here are some of those little details.

1. The Coast Guard is older than the Navy.

It began life when President Washington created the Revenue Cutter Service to enforce U.S. tariffs in 1790, and was the sole U.S. maritime defense force until the creation of the Navy Department in 1798. The Navy officially dates its anniversary of the creation of the Continental Marine in 1775, but that The navy was disbanded after the revolutionary war.

What we call the Coast Guard today is the result of a few mergers. In 1915 the Revenue Cutter Service merged with the US Life-Saving Service and was officially renamed the Coast Guard. In 1939, the Lighthouse Service was integrated, and the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation was added to the USCG in 1946.

2. The Coast Guard is also a blue water naval force.

Despite the Coast Guard’s endearing (or unendearing, depending on which side you’re on) nickname of “Puddle Pirates”, the USCG has advanced Legend-class National Security Cutters are advanced vessels capable of operating on the high seas.

Although its missions are different from those of the Navy, the new cutters carry the same Phoenix close-in weapons systems found on warships, as well as the same electronic warfare and 57 millimeter cannons on combat ships. Littoral. Currently, nine of 11 have been completed and are operating in the Bering Sea, Pacific Ocean and Arctic Ocean.

3. The Coast Guard has its own special operators.

The Virginia Coast Guard Maritime Security Response Team (MSRT) participates in a training evolution. The highly trained and specialized team, using a ferry underway in the real world, practiced tactical sea boarding, active fire scenarios and radiological material detection. (US Coast Guard/Petty Officer 3rd Class Ross Ruddell)

You’ve probably heard of Army Green Berets, and you’ve definitely heard of US Navy SEALs, but you may not have heard of Maritime Safety and Security Teams (MSSTs) and Marine Security Teams. Coast Guard Maritime Security Response (MSRT).

Coast Guard MSSTs are used to prevent or deter potential terrorist attacks on the seas, enhance force protection operations, enforce law enforcement, increase port security, assist with search and rescue, and embark on ships. hostile ships in and around US waters.

Coast Guard MSRTs are trained to board and secure vessels, including those held by terrorists holding hostages. MSRTs are proficient in close combat and boarding operations as well as chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high-yield explosive situations.

4. Remember the Coast Guard Medal of Honor recipient.

Marines stand ready to fire a 21-gun salute during the annual memorial ceremony honoring Signalman 1st Class Douglas Munro at the cemetery in which he is buried in his hometown of Cle Elum, Washington. (US Coast Guard/Chief Petty Officer Kyle Niemi)

The Coast Guard can be deployed wherever the rest of the branches are deployed because, as we mentioned, it is a branch of the military. The Coasties have fought in every major American conflict since their inception, including World War II.

Signalman First Class Douglas Munro volunteered to support the Navy when landing Marines in the 1942 landings at Guadalcanal. When a group of Marines came under massive Japanese counterattack while attacking a beachhead, Munro led the evacuation of the Marine force.

As the Marines charged onto the evacuation boats, Munro placed his boat between them and the incoming fire to protect the Marines. Munro then moved his boat to free one that had run aground before being hit in the head by a Japanese machine gun.

Munro was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in rescuing Marines on Guadalcanal, and his medal currently occupies a place of honor in the National Marine Corps Museum.

5. Coast Guard officers train aboard a captured Nazi sailing ship.

The USCGC Eagle began life in 1936 in Nazi Germany as a HSS Horst Wessel. Christened by Adolf Hitler, the Horst Wessel was intended to serve as a training ship for the German Kriegsmarine. He served the Germans for three years, but when World War II broke out he was sidelined.

The USCGC Eagle on the Elizabeth River approaches the pier behind the Hampton Roads Naval Museum and Nauticus. (US Navy/civilian public affairs officer Max Lonzanida)

With the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945, the ship was captured by the British. It eventually fell into American hands and was sailed across the Atlantic Ocean by a team of American and German sailors. Today it is the flagship of the Coast Guard and trains USCG cadets and officers in practical seamanship skills.

— Blake Stilwell can be reached at [email protected] It can also be found on Twitter @blakestilwell Where on Facebook.

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