Over the past 100 years, the Coast Guard chief has become a linchpin to the Service, able to advise petty officers and commissioned officers in the chain of command. Since 1920, chiefs have served many roles. These include teacher, parent, rating specialist and mentor.
Florence Finch Smith was the first Asian-American woman to don a Coast Guard uniform. In 1995, the Coast Guard honored Finch’s service by naming the administration building for her at Coast Guard Base Honolulu. She passed away in 2016 at the age of 101. Of her wartime activities, she stated “I feel very humble because my activities in the war effort were trivial compared with those of people who gave their lives for their country.”
In November 1958, Melvin Bell became the first master chief in his rate. Perhaps more significantly, he became the first minority master chief in the history of the Coast Guard. He will soon be honored as namesake of a Fast Response Cutter.
In late March 1945, nearly 1,300 ships of the Allied forces of America, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada assembled to support the largest amphibious operation of the Pacific War–the invasion of Okinawa and Ryukyu Islands.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The rig’s explosions killed 11 and injured 16 of its 126 person crew. were unprecedented. The resulting spill of over 200 million gallons of crude oil became the largest discharge of oil in U.S. waters.
Perhaps the most significant period in Coast Guard history occurred in the years leading up to, during, and after World War II. During this epic struggle, Vice Admiral Kenneth Cowart, who distinguished himself as an engineer, leader, and combat hero, made his mark in history.
Through the ages, many hurricanes have struck the Florida Keys, however, the Key West Hurricane of 1846 is believed to be one of the worst, destroying the city and killing over 250 residents. This recounting of the storm was written by eyewitness and U.S. Revenue Cutter Service officer, Lieutenant William C. Pease.
Today, fifty-five years after the Service joined the fight in Vietnam, we commemorate the Coast Guardsmen who went in harm’s way, several of whom paid with their lives in a land far from home. In all, 8,000 Coast Guardsmen served in Vietnam. Their efforts curtailed maritime smuggling and enemy infiltration, saved hundreds of lives, and proved vital to the U.S. war effort in Vietnam.
In April 1943, Evans was assigned to Coast Guard Cutter Northland in the famed Greenland Patrol. Evans sailed on three missions on board Northland, which escorted vessels to Greenland twice, and then to Iceland on his final mission.
The Coast Guard commissioned the Morehead City Air Station 100 years ago on March 24, 1920. It was the first official air station in Coast Guard history.