Written by Comandant of the Coast Guard, Adm. Paul Zukunft
Celebrating the birth of our great Nation, we are reminded of the enduring spirit of America and the brave patriots who have fought for freedom, many of whom have paid the ultimate sacrifice. For more than two centuries, Coast Guard men and women have safeguarded Americans through a common thread that binds us all – Service to Nation.
Last month, in recognition of the 70th anniversary of D-Day, I joined some 3,000 veterans on the very beaches where Allied forces landed during the greatest amphibious operation in history. I had the privilege to meet Coast Guard veterans who exemplify Service to Nation. Veterans like Frank DeVita, a gunner’s mate aboard the attack transport ship USS SAMUEL CHASE. Frank crewed landing craft carrying U.S. Army soldiers during both the Normandy and Provence campaigns of the Liberation of France. Veterans like Jack Hamlin, a member of Rescue Flotilla One. Jack and flotilla crews saved soldiers and airmen alike, braving 48-degree waters and working through the night to rescue more than 400 men on D-Day alone.
These heroes, members of the Greatest Generation, embody Service to Nation. Their selfless performance of mission is seen in today’s men and women who stand the watch around the globe. I have seen this dedication and commitment firsthand in my first 30 days as Commandant. On June 22nd, Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo rescued 21 people from a capsized boat when, after detection by a Coast Guard MH-60 crew, suspected smugglers allegedly forced migrants off an already unseaworthy vessel. On the weekend of June 28th, Coast Guard and Auxiliary crews teamed with local responders to rescue seven boaters and assist 16 others across the Great Lakes region. Also in late June, crews in Southern California teamed with more than 90 local, state and federal emergency response agencies during Coastal Trident, a full-scale exercise ensuring port and maritime security. Participants validated tactics, techniques and procedures to counter threats in the maritime environment and further honed command and control procedures in the air, on land and at sea. These operations and the many others you do every day show how our personification of Commitment to Excellence continues to serve American citizens.
Two hundred and thirty-eight years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the spirit that ignited our nation lives on. Every day, like our heroes of Normandy, Coast Guard men and women serve a cause greater than themselves. They are united in Service to Nation.
Wherever you might be celebrating, and to the many who will be standing the watch off near and distant shores, please have a Happy and Safe Fourth of July holiday.