On Sunday, the United States Coast Guard Reserve turns 76 years old. The Coast Guard Reserve draws its history from the much older Coast Guard, who will turn 227 later this year. The first Congress originally authorized the Revenue Marine to “enforce federal tariff and trade laws and to prevent smuggling” as part of the Treasury Department. That might sound not so interesting, but in reality enforcing law on the seas meant fighting France, assisting the Navy in the War of 1812, and overtaking pirates in the early 19th century. In fact, the Coast Guard can boast credit for the suppression of piracy in the Gulf of Mexico.
Those early years of involvement in foreign and domestic protection have shaped the Coast Guard, and subsequently the Reserve, into what it is today. The Coast Guard protects and enforces the law on the seas, provides search and rescue capabilities, and ensures environmental protection. It has seen involvement in United States’ major conflicts and assists in enforcing federal law here at home.
In early 1941, the Coast Guard Reserve was established to be modeled after the Navy Reserve and would see involvement later that year as the U.S. entered World War II. Like each of the other branches, the Coast Guard Reserve stand ready to step in when needed. The Reserve, who now functions under the leadership of Homeland Security, remains on guard in case of disaster here at home. They remain trained and ready for when they are called upon.
Happy birthday to the Coast Guard Reserve!