Category: History

The Long Blue Line: Early African American service—first to serve and first to sacrifice

Very rare and faded photograph showing the original Pea Island Life-Saving Station crew and keeper, Richard Etheridge, on the left side. (U.S. Coast Guard)

African Americans comprise the longest serving minority in the United States Coast Guard. They were the first to serve and, in many ways, were the first to sacrifice, pioneering the way ahead for all minorities in the Coast Guard, U.S. military, and the nation.

The Long Blue Line: “CG 1”—the Coast Guard’s first aircraft

Close-up of an OL-5 cockpit with an air-cooled machine gun mounted aft for aerial use of force and law enforcement interdiction. (U.S. Coast Guard)

In 1925, using borrowed Navy aircraft, the Coast Guard demonstrated the value of air assets through the first aerial law enforcement assist and the first aviation interdiction. The next year, Congress appropriated $162,000 to purchase the first five Coast Guard aircraft, designed specifically for the Service’s needs.

Cutter Mackinaw to mark 20th Chicago Christmas Ship anniversary

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw (WLBB-30) delivers Christmas trees from northern Michigan to Chicago every year as a part of Chicago’s Christmas Ship program. The one-of-a-kind icebreaker and its predecessor, USCGC Mackinaw (WAGB-83), have delivered more than 25,000 Christmas trees to Chicago families in the past 20 years. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Cmdr. John M. Stone.

Continuing a 20-year tradition, the Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw will deliver 1,200 Christmas trees as part of Chicago’s Christmas Ship program. The annual tree delivery dates back more than a century when brothers August and Herman Schuenemann sold and gave away Christmas trees from the Chicago waterfront.

Legacy of Light: Tallest Georgia lighthouse marks Tybee Island

Two Coast Guard Air Station Savannah MH-65 Dolphin helicopters fly in formation in front of the Tybee Island Lighthouse. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ryan Dickinson.

Tybee Island Light, the oldest and tallest lighthouse in Georgia, guides mariners into the Savannah River and welcomes visitors to this resort destination. The barrier island beacon is not only a popular tourist attraction but also an active Aid to Navigation that lights the way for mariners into the Port of Savannah.

The Long Blue Line: Coast Guard Cutter Bear and NOAA hunt for the Bear

Painting depicting USCGC Bear (WMEC-901) and namesake USRC Bear together in one illustration. (Coast Guard Collection)

Last summer, after several months of preparation, the Coast Guard Cutter Bear received a mission objective for 14 days of its 72-day patrol off the coast of New England. CGC Bear was tasked with serving as a research vessel, facilitating a search for the wreck of the original United States Revenue Cutter Bear.

The Long Blue Line: Joseph Toahty (Le-Tuts-Taka)- Pawnee warrior of Guadalcanal

Coast Guard enlistment photograph of Joseph R. Toahty at age 21. (National Archives)

Joseph Toahty, half Pawnee and half Kiowa Indian, joined the Coast Guard in 1941. He was the first Pawnee Indian to go to sea, the first Native American to participate in a U.S. naval offensive operation and the first to set foot in enemy territory during the World War II.

The Long Blue Line: America’s first ice ships and icebreakers

Color photograph of Northland, with cut-down masts, sitting in the ice in World War II’s Greenland Patrol. (U.S. Coast Guard)

During the Age of Sail, the seasonal pattern of icebound winters froze-in merchant vessels and reduced the wintertime demand for revenue cutters on the Great Lakes, in the Northeast and in the Mid-Atlantic States. In some cases, cutters were decommissioned in December, winterized and their crews dismissed until the spring thaw.