Celebrating 63 years of the Coast Guard Auxiliary

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 22, 2002

The Coast Guard Auxiliary. The name itself should bring a number of visual images to recreational boaters. Images such as Auxiliary members running free safety checks on vessels throughout Tidewater should come to mind. A second image could be an Auxiliary member teaching classes in boating safety. A third image might be an auxiliary vessel underway during a marine event such as Harbor Fest. Indeed, the Coast Guard Auxiliary is everywhere.

Today, the Auxiliary will mark 63 years of service to the nation. It is a birthday that every person who gets on some form of watercraft should celebrate. The organizations volunteer service to the nation is truly inspirational and has been a big part of the Coast Guard’s boating safety effort for decades. They have also played key rolls in the defense of the country. For example, 50,000 Auxiliary members joined the effort during World War II. Some served for weeks at a time in temporary commissioned. They were involved in missions such as guarding waterfronts, carrying out coastal &uot;picket&uot; duty and rescuing survivors from scuttled ships.

In my nearly 19 years of commissioned service, I have had the good fortune to work with the Auxiliary. From supporting Security Zones during OPSAIL Maine, to working Search and Rescue off the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Auxiliary has proved to be an extraordinary group of people, whose commitment to America is inspirational.

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Since 9/11 the Auxiliary’s role has expanded even further. They have supported the active duty and reserve force at unprecedented levels. For example, according to a recent Coast Guard message, &uot;In the first six months after 11 September the Auxiliary volunteered over 250,000 hours, conducting multi-mission harbor safety patrols, providing administrative support and filling in as needed for SAR stand-by duty.&uot; Remember folks — this is a VOLUNTEER organization.

The message went on to describe some other highlights of Auxiliary support in areas other than Maritime Homeland Security. &uot;Last year Auxiliarists saved 482 lives, assisted 11,351 others, conducted 113,048 vessel safety exams.&uot; In addition, the Auxiliary spent 8,800 hours in the air (yes, they have volunteers with private aircraft), over 37,000 hours in and on the water, and over 69,300 hours in the classroom. Again — this is a VOLUNTEER organization.

The Coast Guard Auxiliary is composed of dedicated civilians who believe strongly in the Coast Guard, its missions and making recreational boating as safe as possible. A heartful HAPPY Birthday Auxiliary!

If you are interested in joining the Auxiliary, learning more about the courses they offer, or where you can get a free vessel safety check please visit their website: http:www.cgaux.org

Until next week…Boat Safe and Boat Smart.