01-24-2014 11:06 AM
Ten months before the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor that would launch America into World War II, the U.S. government was getting ready. On Feb. 19, 1941, it created a new military force to expand and strengthen the Coast Guard’s maritime presence. The Coast Guard Reserve was born.
Of the 214,000 Coast Guard personnel who served in the war, more than 92% of them were Reservists. Another 125,000 served in a volunteer branch called the Temporary Reserve. While most of those early Reservists would be discharged after the war, the Coast Guard Reserve had found a permanent place among its military brethren.
Today the Reserve force fulfills a unique set of specialized duties across America and beyond its shores, and its members stand ready as they did 73 years ago. On the birthday of their branch, we at USAA pay special tribute to the men and women of the Coast Guard Reserve.
Seldom Recognized but Always There
The size and scope of the Coast Guard Reserve have fluctuated through the years. After nearly fading from existence after World War II, the first organized Coast Guard Reserve unit was formed in Boston in 1950. During the Vietnam War, the force swelled again to nearly 18,000 members by 1969. The Coast Guard Reserve now represents about 20 percent of the Coast Guard’s assets.
Today’s Reserve consists of more than 8,000 members, who, like their counterparts in other reserve branches, dedicate their time and risk their safety for the welfare of others. They have been called to serve in conflicts overseas, providing critical port security services in the Middle East, for example. But their most visible modern impact is here at home. They help keep Americans safe on the water, protect our natural resources, ensure that business flows smoothly at our ports, and respond to emergencies with quickness and skill.
Whenever hurricanes and floods grip the nation, Coast Guard Reservists answer the call for help.
They were there to clean up when in 1989 the Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of oil into the ocean and again in 2010 when the Deep Water Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico proved to be even worse. When Hurricane Sandy pummeled the East Coast in 2012, Reservists were mobilized to offer assistance.
The Reserve also performs law enforcement duties, such as bolstering security surrounding NASA spacecraft launches and intercepting drug smugglers.
When our less fortunate neighbors are in crisis, the Reserve lends a hand, as it did to provide supplies and security following the catastrophic Haitian earthquake of 2010.
As it is written on the branch’s crest and shield, the Coast Guard Reserve prides itself on professionalism, preparedness and patriotism. At USAA, we salute the members who serve to uphold that tradition, and we honor the families who stand behind them.
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