America’s Volunteer Guardians

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Today marks the 70th anniversary of the Coast Guard Auxiliary. It is definitely a time to reflect on and appreciate all the years of service this amazing volunteer organization has provided to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Proud to be called one of the largest volunteer marine safety organizations in the nation, the roughly 30,000 members spend countless unpaid hours working side-by-side active duty and reserve Guardians, often using their own boats and resources during missions. Their energy, enthusiasm, dedication, pride, and professionalism stand out to anyone who has had the pleasure of working with them or has been helped by them.

Although it is nearly impossible to list all the ways the Auxiliary supports the Coast Guard, their public service includes public education on seamanship, navigation rules, weather, charting, and boating safety; search and rescue assistance; air and harbor patrols; communication watchstanders; vessel examiners; and marine environmental protection. Members also build awareness among the recreational boating public and encourage active participation in the America’s Waterway Watch (AWW) program. AWW, similar to the Neighborhood Watch program, is a nationwide outreach initiative to get community members involved in looking for and reporting suspicious waterfront activity.

Here are some incredible Auxiliary statistics over the past 10 years (data gathered from the USCG Auxiliary Management Information Systems):

  • 7,761,234: Hours spent providing operational support/safety patrols
  • 3,159: Lives saved
  • 91,544: People assisted
  • 437,795,940: Dollars of property saved
  • 23,775,167: Hours spent providing administrative support
  • 1,125,019: Hours spent training
  • 1,678,946: Graduates from an auxiliary boating safety education course
  • 980,000: Hours spent on boating safety education courses
  • 1,239,926: Vessel safety checks conducted
  • 10,223: Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Exams (CFVSE)
  • 36,388,709: Total hours contributed by Auxiliarists

Although under the authority of the Commandant of the Coast Guard, the Auxiliary is internally autonomous. However, it functions much like its active duty counterpart. Auxiliarists wear a uniform, have strict qualification standards, and follow a chain of command based on four organizational levels; Flotilla, Division, District/Regions, and National. With membership in all 50 states as well as Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Guam, they function as a major force multiplier to the Coast Guard.

Over the years, they have provided mission support alongside Guardians in some of the nation’s largest disasters, rescues, and events including:

1941 World War II
1943 Mississippi floods
1960 Seismic wave in Los Angeles
1983 America’s Cup race
1984 Los Angeles Olympic games
1986 Challenger Shuttle explosion
1993 Storm of the Century
1996 TWA Flight 800 crash
2001 Terrorist attacks of 9/11
1944 to 2005 Recovery missions in over 18 major hurricanes

To all the Auxiliarists who gallantly volunteer their time supporting the missions of the U.S. Coast Guard – Thank You and Semper Paratus!


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