Happy 64th, Coast Guard Reserve

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 28, 2005

Special to the News-Herald

Recent stories in national magazines and the front pages of other local Tidewater newspapers have spotlighted the National Guard, the Army Reserve and their collective recruiting challenges. Stories in Joint Forces Quarterly and on the Military Channel have focused on the Marine Corps and Air Force Reserve, highlighting their contributions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

All of these stories are important, but today my column will spotlight the least known, yet in my mind the most strategically critical of all the reserve armed forces – The Coast Guard Reserve, which celebrated its 64th anniversary last week.

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There are approximately 8,000 members in today’s Reserve.

According to the service’s Web site, the Reserve’s purpose is &uot;to provide trained and qualified personnel available for active duty in time of war or national emergency and at such other times as the national security requires.&uot;

Two great examples of this force’s extraordinary service include the reserve that supported the anti-terrorism and escort requirements for the strategic on-load that supported Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom and those reserves that as members of Port Security units deployed world-wide to support regional combatant commanders.

Through an act of Congress, the Coast Guard Reserve was created through the Coast Guard Reserve and Auxiliary Act of Feb. 19, 1941. This law established the Coast Guard Auxiliary. The modern Coast Guard Reserve was actually modeled after the Naval Reserve as a military component.

Over the years, the service has gone through a number of changes.

The latest change is the complete integration of reserve members into active duty units. This has meant that Reserve members perform duties and responsibilities alongside their active duty counterparts in a manner that is a win-win for everyone! Coast Guard Reserve members are anything but weekend warriors: they are engaged in key areas throughout the service, from the smallest tactical command to the Coast Guard Headquarters staff.

Locally, one of the best examples of the importance of the Coast Guard Reserve to their active duty counterparts, is the service of Captain &uot;Skipper&uot; Duck.

Duck has been a member of the reserve for 34 years and has served with distinction in a variety of billets.

Following the tragedy of 9/11 he was mobilized to support the Atlantic Area’s Incident Management Team. He has also been mobilized to run the Strategic On-Load watch team, which coordinated the Coast Guard’s anti-terrorism efforts supporting the loading of strategically important Military SeaLift Command (MSC) ships, and those under charter to MSC. In both these cases he led groups of active duty and reserve members staffing watches during two extremely busy times for the service. He is the epitome of what today’s modern Coast Guard reserve is capable of. Unfortunately, Duck is retiring this summer. He will be missed.

A good way to capture the importance of the Coast Guard Reserve to the United States is to review a message transmitted from Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Tom Collins, &uot;This past year was a busy one for the reserve, responding to three major hurricanes in Florida, the G8 summit, the Democratic and Republican National conventions and the Presidential Inauguration. Many of our reservists are securing key embarkation ports like Corpus Christi, Texas and Charleston, S.C., where equipment bound for Iraq begins its journey overseas. Today, nearly 1,000 reservists remain mobilized in support of homeland security and stability operations overseas. To all reservists, I join the Coast Guard family and the rest of America in expressing gratitude for your patriotism, sacrifice and unwavering devotion to duty. Semper Paratus!