contributed by Liz Zaczek, senior staff writer
On August 4, 2020, the US Coast Guard celebrates turning 230 years young! The US’s “Guardians” have a unique job in the military of both a role in law enforcement and a role in war. As of 2018, there were nearly 42,000 active duty members of the Coast Guard, 7000 Reservists and 30,000 members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary.
While many are familiar with famous or infamous members of other branches of our country’s military past and present, legendary battles and plenty of museum worthy factoids our United States Coast Guard feels underrepresented in the popular history. Here’s some interesting anecdotes in honor of the USCG’s founding.
Tom Blake, considered and credited with being one of the most influential surfers in history increasing the sport’s popularity throughout the world, joined the Coast Guard after the bombing of Pearl Harbor during WWII at the age of 40. Because of the skills he brought to the service, lifeguarding and expertise in waterman skills, Blake rose through the ranks becoming a platoon leader commanding a search and rescue team. He also authored military rescue manuals and survival guides. After an honorable discharge Blake returned to his surfing career.
The Bridges Family (Lloyd, Beau and Jeff) one of Hollywood’s favorite acting families is also a Coast Guard family. In 2011, they were each honored with a Lone Sailor Award which, according to The United States Navy Memorial, is presented “to Sea Service Veterans who have distinguished themselves, drawing upon their Sea Service experience to become successful, in their subsequent careers and lives, while exemplifying the core values of Honor, Courage and Commitment.”
Beau Bridges during his Coast Guard days
Jeff Bridges during his Coast Guard days.
Arnold Palmer, the champion golfer, was already making his mark on the amateur scene when he joined the Coast Guard. He made the decision to join after losing his college roommate to a car accident as a way to cope with the loss. He became a yeoman for Rear Adm. Roy L. Raney, 9th Coast Guard District commander. He was also a photographer for the Coast Guardsman.
Arnold Palmer. U.S. Coast Guard photo.
There are plenty of interesting tales and important people throughout history about all our service branches that didn’t make it into our traditional school books. These are just a sampling of one branch, the Coast Guard, as our way of saying
“Here’s to the last 230 years and to the next 230!”
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