Happy Birthday, U.S. Coast Guard!

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 23, 2003

Oh how times have changed! Many years ago members of the guard and reserve, wrongly, were occasionally called &uot;weekend warriors.&uot; The belief was that a Reserve member came in on a weekend, drank coffee, read the paper, did a little paperwork and left promptly at 1600 (4 p.m). Once a year, they drill for two weeks with a local unit.

Oh how times have changed, especially in the new normalcy!

This past week marked the 62nd anniversary of an incredible group of people – the United States Coast Guard Reserve. What an incredibly dedicated member of team Coast Guard!

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In a message, transmitted from the Coast Guard’s Commandant, Admiral Thomas Collins, the accomplishments of the reserve were praised, especially those accomplished over the last year, &uot;My sincere appreciation and gratitude goes out to the men and women of the Coast Guard Reserve for another year of exceptional service to America. During the past year we have witnessed the awesome capability and commitment of our reservists. You provide a vital service to the Coast Guard and to our nation and will continue to do so as we transition to the Department of Homeland Security.&uot;

Admiral Collins’ message highlighted that this year has been an incredible success story for the reserve. From the deployment of Port Security Units to support operations all over the world, to Reserve members that have come aboard to provide protection to vessels carrying support material for contingency operations. Coast Guard Reserve members have been interviewed on the national news and have projected the image of full partnership with the active force. It’s a partnership that grows stronger every day.

The Coast Guard Reserve traces its’ roots to the 77th Congress which decided to amend the Coast Guard Auxiliary and Reserve Act to read, &uot;provide a trained force…which when added to the regular personnel of the Coast Guard enable that service to perform such extraordinary duties as may be necessitated by emergency conditions.&uot;

Since its founding, the Coast Guard Reserve has been involved in every major contingency operations. There were Coast Guard escorts of troop ships in World War II, the Coast Guard had patrol boats involved in Vietnam.

To this day the mission and scope of operations continue to grow. The Coast Guard Reserves’ response to 9/11 is just one example. Port Security Unit (PSU) 305, based right up Route 64 at Fort Eustis was on scene mere days after the event. That unit is made up of 95 percent reserve members. PSU units have served at Guantanamo Bay Cuba providing harbor security and are serving overseas supporting Central Command. Our reserve, just over 8,000 strong, has met every expectation and more.

The Coast Guard Reserve; 62 years young this week. An organization all America can take pride in. Until next week…Boat Safe and Boat Smart!

LCDR Joe DiRenzo III is a resident of Suffolk and a regular columnist for the News-Herald.