After the merger of the Revenue-Cutter Service and the Life Saving Service, the newly formed United States Coast Guard consisted of just 5,200 officers and men. In 1917, the tiny service was transferred to the United States Navy for World War I. These experienced mariners became the backbone of the U.S. Navy that expanded from 69,000 men at the beginning of the war to over half a million at its close.
On September 26, 1918, the cruising cutter USS Tampa was sunk by a German U-boat in the English Channel, causing the loss of all 131 officers, crew and passengers including 111 Coast Guardsmen. With this loss, the Coast Guard had suffered the highest percentage of casualties of all the American armed services during the war.
Today, Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen and DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano are honoring all Guardians lost in service of their country at the annual wreath laying ceremony at the Coast Guard’s World War I monument, also known as the Tampa Memorial, in Arlington National Cemetery.