The Coast Guard’s history is closely tied to the State of North Carolina. This connection dates back to 1790 and the men and women who have served at the many stations and bases along the coast and eastern side of North Carolina.
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With nearly seven and a half decades of water in her wake, Smilax is the oldest U.S. Coast Guard cutter in service today and she turns 75 on November 1.
As some North Carolinians were returning to their homes and recovering from 2016’s Hurricane Matthew, a new storm was tracking towards the East Coast. On Friday, Sept. 14, 2018, at 7:15 a.m., Hurricane Florence made landfall at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, with sustained winds of 90 mph. However, the flooding associated with Florence would prove more devastating than just hurricane-force winds. Hurricane Florence dropped more than 33 inches of rain in portions of North Carolina, causing widespread destruction that people could never have imagined.
For hundreds of years, mariners have nicknamed North Carolina’s Outer Banks the “Graveyard of the Atlantic” based on the history of ships lost in its waters. Even for experienced Coast Guard members, traversing the area can prove a difficult task. However, Coast Guard men and women stand the watch, just as the crews before them did.
Before the War of 1812, revenue cutters enforced trade laws and interdicted smuggling. During the war, the cutters cemented many of the combat and homeland security missions performed today by the U.S. Coast Guard, including intelligence gathering.
Coble retired from his political service in January 2015, after serving in Congress for more than 30 years. With his combined service time, he spent more than 55 years of his life serving with and supporting the U.S. Coast Guard. He was the last Coast Guard veteran serving in Congress.
For the past 224 years the Coast Guard has safeguarded our nation’s maritime interests, providing a 24/7 presence along America’s rivers, ports, coastline and on the high seas. But while the Coast Guard’s presence and impact is regional, national and international, our operations are often out of sight.
More than 3,000 Coast Guard members call North Carolina home. North Carolina is also home to Rep. David Price, the 2013 recipient of the Commodore Ellsworth P. Bertholf Award. The annual award is a way to recognize members of Congress who exemplify the spirit of the award’s namesake – the service’s first commandant.
Rep. Howard Coble will soon retire after this term in Congress. He is the last Coast Guard veteran currently serving in Congress. Reminiscing on both his service in the Coast Guard and as a member of Congress, the one thing he wishes Americans would do is fully support the service.
Atop the dunes, Petty Officer 1st Class Louis Keating Jr. realized what was about to happen and was handed a historic surf check – a brass tag surfman would carry during their beach patrols. He was then told to head north to complete a beach patrol walking in the footsteps of the heroes who came before him from the historic Pea Island Lifesaving Station.