Written by Petty Officer 3rd Class Joel Guzman
As the sun rises over San Diego, the usually busy helicopter ramp at Coast Guard Sector San Diego is abuzz with a palpably different excitement. Instead of Jayhawks preparing to launch, crews are busy preparing the area for an event that’s been more than a year in the making.
On Feb. 23, 2017, the city of San Diego was officially designated as the 21st Coast Guard City in the nation during a ceremony at Sector San Diego. This designation also makes San Diego the largest Coast Guard City.
“Make no mistake our partnership with this community has been an enduring one, and it will endure for centuries to come,” said Adm. Paul Zukunft, commandant, U.S. Coast Guard, during the ceremony.
The Coast Guard’s mission inherently creates a need for understanding and the formation of a bond between the local units and the community. The designation bestowed by the commandant, with approval from Congress, signifies San Diego’s exceptional ability to build that bond.
“We pursued this Coast Guard City designation to strengthen that bond,” explained Kevin Faulconer, mayor of San Diego. “It’s all about partnerships. That’s what we’re proud of in San Diego: we work together. With this designation we now have the opportunity to shine a light on the hardworking men and women who have dedicated their lives to making a career and serving our country in the United States Coast Guard.”
Since the opening of the first Point Loma Lighthouse in 1855, San Diego would have deep ties to the Coast Guard and the military. According to Faulconer, approximately one in seven people in San Diego have a connection to the military, including the Coast Guard.
“San Diego’s deep roots with the military have established this city,” noted Jerry Sanders, president and chief executive officer of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. “They have also established our businesses and our communities.”
In addition to the commerce generated by the military members who live in San Diego, the Coast Guard’s role in the region is particularly important as the commander of Sector San Diego also serves as captain of the port. San Diego’s proximity to the international border also magnifies the importance the Coast Guard’s presence in the region.
“In San Diego our ports and our border are economic engines for our region and the Coast Guard helps us ensure that both run smoothly,” said Rep. Scott Peters, 52nd District of California.
In addition to the official ceremony, the lively celebration featured static displays and allowed invited guests to mingle with local Coast Guard crews from Sector San Diego, the Coast Guard Pacific Tactical Law Enforcement Team, Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team 91109, and the Coast Guard Auxiliary. The San Diego Padres’ Pad Squad and mascot, the Swinging Friar, were also on hand to mingle with guests and unveil the official logo.