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The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary History Highlights

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June 23, 1939 Congressional legislation establishes the Coast Guard Reserve as a volunteer civilian organization the purpose of which is to promote recreational boating safety and to facilitate the operations of the Coast Guard.

February 19, 1941 Congressional legislation changes the name of the Reserve to the Auxiliary and in addition, creates a military Coast Guard Reserve under which enrollees are subject to military law and the Articles of War.

June 1942 Congressional legislation allows Auxiliarists to enroll as part-time or intermittent members of the Coast Guard Reserve. Thousands of Auxiliarists enroll themselves and their vessels in the Reserve. Over fifty thousand temporary Reservists served during the war patrolling harbors, factories, bridges, and docks; fighting fires; providing emergency and disaster assistance; conducting search and rescue and anti-submarine warfare; training; giving blood; selling war bonds; recruiting SPARs (CG women reservists). (An equal number of Auxiliarists served, but many held both titles simultaneously, so the 50,000 figure is used for both the number of Auxiliarists and temporary Reservists.)

July 1942 Coastal Picket Force is formed; Auxiliary enrolls large sailboats and motorcruisers and mans a number along with newly recruited yachtsmen for anti-submarine work along 50-fathom curve of Atlantic Coast.

Integrated Army-Navy-Coast Guard coastal and beach patrol system established consisting of mounted, foot, canine, and afloat units. Temporary reservists serve in all branches.

December 1942 Temporary reservists required to transfer to full-time active duty, if physically fit, or serve part- or full-time on a volunteer basis or resign from service.

November 1942 Congressional legislation allows women to enroll as temporary Reservists. This included Auxiliary members who numbered approximately 100, as of March 1943.

1944 Congressional legislation allows aircraft and marine radios to be used as facilities to assist with search and rescue operations.

1946 Flotillas established in Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands.

July CG-170, "Instruction to Coast Guard Auxiliary," first Auxiliary manual issued.

194 7 Courtesy Marine Examination Program (CME) is launched in the 7th District.

January 1948 Public Education program launched at the New York National Boat Show.

1950 First 8-lesson boating safety course developed.

1951 Bert C. Pouncey, Jr. elected first National Commodore at the first National Conference; National Board is created.

1952 AUXOP established as original premier operational training program.

1953 CG-289, first Courtesy Marine Examination manual issue.

1955 Academy Introduction Mission (AIM) program is begun which recruits potential cadets for the U. S. Coast Guard Academy. Presently, approximately 200 high school students get a taste of "swab summer" prior to their senior years by attending AIM Week at the Academy each year.

Operations in 17th District in Alaska reactivated following hiatus after World War II.

1957 Ole Evinrude Award presented to Auxiliary for its "outstanding contribution to recreational boating afloat."

1958 Auxiliary helps implement provisions of the Federal Boating Act as well as new vessel numbering system through the public education and CME programs. State law enforcement officials are trained in the new law and seamanship. Between 1950 and 1960, 18 million Americans move to the suburbs, a factor that increases the number of boating "enthusiasts" to 40 million by 1959.

June 4 President Dwight D. Eisenhower proclaims National Safe Boating Week under Congressional resolution. First initiated under the leadership of Steve Sadowski of the 1st Coast Guard District in 1952.

1959 First operations manual/training course initiated.

1961 The Navigator, the national publication of the CG Auxiliary commences publication.

1962 National Oceanographic Administration enters agreement with Auxiliary for chart updating.

1964 Auxiliary conducts chart-updating nation-wide for Coast and Geodetic Survey.

1967 Coast Guard transferred from the Department of Treasury to Transportation.

1968 Auxiliary adopts navy blue ensign/emblem with white stripe.

Auxiliary receives National Safety Council citation for distinguished service to safety.

1969 Boating Skills and Seamanship course required for membership; expanded to 12 and 13 lessons.

1971 Under the 1971 Federal Boating Act, Auxiliary flotillas are allowed to open on sole-state waters. Federal construction of inland lakes, dams, and reservoirs greatly increases boating in western and plains states and scores of flotillas begin to operate there. As a result the search and rescue caseload soars, reaching a peak of 58,000 persons assisted in 1980.

1973 Youth courses begin with development of Water `n Kids course.

Auxiliary takes over seven small boat stations on Great Lakes.

1975 Coast Guard adopts "Bender Blue" uniform, replacing khakis.

1979 Bolling Douglas of the 7th District elected first female district commodore.

1984 Auxiliary Boat Crew training program is established under which coxswains and crew members are tested on seamanship and search and rescue operations by specially qualified examiners.
1989 50th Anniversary of Auxiliary celebrated; history program established.

1990-91 Coast Guard begins integration of Auxiliarists into everyday operations: Auxiliarists inspect commercial fishing vessels, fly as air observers in C-130 aircraft, work in Coast Guard offices, qualify as Coast Guard boat crew.

1993 First Personal Water Craft (PWC) utilized as Auxiliary facilities.

1996 Congressional legislation expands role of Auxiliary to include any Coast Guard mission, except direct law enforcement and military operations, as authorized by the Commandant.

2001 For the first time since World War II, Coast Guard Auxiliary lends major operational support to Coast Guard in protecting U.S. cities, coastlines, ports, and citizens against foreign attacks, due to Al Qaeda terrorist attack on New York City and Washington, D. C., on September 11.
Auxiliary publishes first official history, United States Coast Guard Auxiliary: A History, 1939-1999, authored by John A. Tilley of East Carolina University (U.S. Government Printing Office).

2002 U. S. Coast Guard transferred from the Department of Transportation to the Department of Homeland Security.

2003 March -- 1 March 2003, U. S. Department of Homeland Security formally established. U. S. Coast Guard Auxiliary member organization.

2004 Auxiliarists become victims and rescuers during unprecedented four hurricanes that hit Florida: Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne.

2005 Hurricane Katrina hits Louisiana and the Gulf Coast in August. Hurricane Rita hits Texas, Louisiana in September and Hurricane Wilma hits Florida in October. Auxiliary members nation wide assisted at these disasters.

2006 Commandant Thad W. Allen, USCG issues the following Auxiliary Policy Statement "The Auxiliary is a force multiplier of vetted and trained volunteers devoted to the support of Coast Guard missions and provides a broad inventory of vital skills, assets, and experience for our units across the nation. As the leading volunteer organization in the Department of Homeland Security, it is an essential component of our daily operations and an effective resource primed to prevent and respond to catastrophes in the maritime region."

2007 The worth of each Auxiliarist in today's dollars is estimated to be approximately between $2,850 and $2,927 annually. The CG receives close to $70 million worth of work from the Auxiliary organization each year following the subtraction of $14M in expenses.

2008 CG seeks AUX support in America's Waterway Watch program. AUX membership stands at 28,635.

2009 AUX Memorial unveiled at U.S. Coast Guard Training Center (TRACEN), Cape May.

2010 AUX supports SAR operations in response to the largest off-shore oil spill in U.S. history, with the loss of eleven lives aboard Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in Gulf of Mexico. Auxiliary examiners participate in safety exams for vessels of opportunity, conduct overflights of Gulf for observation of oil flow, serve in Joint Information Centers, (JICs) and backfill Coast Guard Positions in Public Affairs Units at the Unified Area Command Center in New Orleans.

2011 Auxiliarists volunteer hours for the fiscal year total 4,861,156 hours.

2012 Thomas Mallison elected thirty-first NACO.

2013 As of January, membership stands at 32,156.


Disaster and Wartime Aid


World War II
As the war went on and the Coast Guard's resources were stretched thinner, Auxiliarists and TRs were called upon to fill gaps wherever active duty Coast Guardsmen left them. Auxiliarists' boats patrolled the waterfronts and inlets looking for saboteurs, enemy agents, and fires. At least one unit of temporary Reservists, recruited from the Auxiliary, patrolled east coast beaches on horseback. Other Auxiliarists manned lookout and lifesaving stations near their homes, freeing regular Coast Guardsmen for sea duty. When a flood struck St. Louis in the spring of 1943, Coast Guard Auxiliarists and Reservists evacuated seven thousand people and thousands of livestock.

Hurricane Katrina.
Search and rescue operations alone saved 24,135 lives from imminent danger, usually off the roofs of the victims' homes as flood waters lapped at their feet. Coast Guardsmen "evacuated to safety" 9,409 patients from local hospitals. In total, 33,545 lives were saved. Seventy-six Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary aircraft took part in the rescues. They flew 1,817 sorties with a total flight time of 4,291.3 hours in the air. The air crews saved 12,535. A total of 42 cutters and 131 small boats also participated, with their crews rescuing 21,200. More than 5,000 Coast Guardsmen served in Katrina operations. Disctrict 8CR sent several divisions to support the Coast Guard with personnel and facilities - surface, air, and communications. The District also donated $10,000 to assist members impacted by Katrina.