Coast Guard Auxiliary celebrates 75th anniversary

Coast Guard Auxiliary member Rick Rogers conducts a vesel safety exam at the pier in Kake, Alaska, June 11, 2011. The Coast Guard Auxiliary is made up of approximately 34,000 volunteers who assist the Coast Guard with a variety of missions. U.S. Coast Guard photo provided by Kate Rogers.

Coast Guard Auxiliary member Rick Rogers conducts a vesel safety exam at the pier in Kake, Alaska, June 11, 2011. The Coast Guard Auxiliary is made up of approximately 34,000 volunteers who assist the Coast Guard with a variety of missions. U.S. Coast Guard photo provided by Kate Rogers.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, a volunteer organization made up of more than 30,000 men and women across the U.S. with more than 420 members volunteering in the state of Alaska.

Today, the Coast Guard Commandant, Adm. Paul Zukunft, celebrated the 75th diamond anniversary of the Coast Guard Auxiliary and presented a Coast Guard Unit Commendation to all Coast Guard Auxiliarists for their Service to our Nation, Duty to People, and Commitment to Excellence.  The devotion, sacrifice, achievement and proud history are extraordinary.

Coast Guard Auxiliary member Nancy Terencio addressed students at the Nome Beltz Junior and Senior High School during a water and ice safety demonstration given there May 3, 2012.  The school visit was the culmination of a two-week trip that included similar safety classes held in Alaska communities of Nome and Kotzebue. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class David Mosley.

Coast Guard Auxiliary member Nancy Terencio addressed students at the Nome Beltz Junior and Senior High School during a water and ice safety demonstration given there May 3, 2012. The school visit was the culmination of a two-week trip that included similar safety classes held in Alaska communities of Nome and Kotzebue. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class David Mosley.

The Coast Guard Auxiliary was established by Congress in 1939 as the Coast Guard Reserves and was redesignated the Auxiliary in 1941. More than 50,000 Auxiliary members joined the war efforts during WWII where they placed many of their private vessels into service to protect the United States.Since many of the major cities and villages throughout Alaska are landlocked due to the geography of the state, boating is a big part of everyday transportation and commerce. The Coast Guard Auxiliary plays a substantial role promoting and improving recreational boating safety by providing educational boating courses and free vessel safety examinations to help ensure all mariners are prepared before setting out on the water.“In the Coast Guard 17th District we focus the majority of our effort on boating safety and preventing rather than search and rescue,” said Lt. Cmdr. Gerald Hewes, the director of Auxiliary for the 17th District. “That includes supporting Alaska’s Kids Don’t Float program, teaching boating safety classes and giving vessel safety exams, for both recreational and commercial fishing boats.”

Since its establishment, the Auxiliary has dedicated more than 4.2 million hours of operational and administrative manpower toward Coast Guard missions including conducting more than 130,000 vessel safety checks, 66,000 hours spent doing search and rescue support and the rescue of  more than 470 lives. In 2013, Alaska’s Auxiliary alone conducted 997 vessel safety checks and led 121 public education sessions. Consequently, boating and other maritime emergencies and deaths have been greatly reduced since the establishment of the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Mike Morris, Coast Guard Auxiliary commodore for the 17th District, bids farewell to Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo and welcomes Rear Adm. Dan Abel during the 17th District change of command in Juneau, Alaska, June 12, 2014. The Auxiliary serves as a force multiplier and vital prevention tool for the 17th District commander. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Grant DeVuyst.

Mike Morris, Coast Guard Auxiliary commodore for the 17th District, bids farewell to Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo and welcomes Rear Adm. Dan Abel during the 17th District change of command in Juneau, Alaska, June 12, 2014. The Auxiliary serves as a force multiplier and vital prevention tool for the 17th District commander. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Grant DeVuyst.

“The Auxiliary was an opportunity to give back a little to the boating community,” said Mike Folkerts, a 17th District boating safety expert and member of the Auxiliary. “Everything they do relates to boating safety. The Auxiliary is the face of the Coast Guard to the boating public.”The organization’s presence in Alaska outdates its statehood, and residents continue to volunteer their time to preventatively protect those in the maritime community. It’s a show of selflessness that saves lives.As it stands today, the minimum age to join the Auxiliary is 17, with no maximum age. Many Coast Guard Auxiliarists join after completing their time with the Coast Guard or other armed forces, sometimes serving our nation for more than 60 years.

To find out more about the Coast Guard Auxiliary visit www.cgaux.org.

Tags: , , , , ,