This Veteran’s Day, CVA would like to commemorate the veterans of the U.S. Coast Guard. These bold maritime first responders have been part of a long and multifaceted history.
On August 4, 1790, Congress authorized Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton’s proposal to protect the new nation’s revenue system with a set of patrolling cutters (small, fast boats). This fleet of Revenue-Marines would undergo several transformations to grow into the modern-day Coast Guard, which performs a wide variety of functions, including maritime law enforcement, search and rescue operations and foreign defense.
The branch officially gained its name during World War I, when President Woodrow Wilson signed the “Act to Create the Coast Guard.” This law combined the U.S. Life-Saving Service and the Hamilton-chartered U.S. Revenue Cutter Service. Throughout World War I, the Coast Guard escorted Navy personnel and ensured the security of U.S. ports.
During World War II, the Coast Guard seized assets and resources from Axis merchant ships, saved allied cargo ships from major accidents and even defended Greenland from German infiltration. They also played a pivotal role overseeing transportation of Marines to and from combat missions.
Signalman 1st Class Douglas Munro was given the only Medal of Honor awarded to a Guardsman for his evacuation of hundreds of Marines during the Battle of Guadalcanal in World War II. He is deeply respected among the Marine community as a selfless and courageous leader who gave his life to guarantee the safe return of his fellow servicemen. As a gesture of respect to Munro’s legacy, Marines traditionally greet Guardsmen with “Douglas Munro” instead of a traditional greeting when saluting.
More than 600 Guardsmen have been honored with a Master Cutterman certificate, given to those who have served at least 20 years at sea. The Cuttermen exalt their most senior members with the title Ancient Mariner. The Gold Ancient Mariner is the longest serving on-duty office, and the Silver Ancient Mariner is the longest serving veteran. Per tradition, they carry nautical spyglasses and authentic relic headgear of the Revenue Cutter Service and Lighthouse Service, respectively.
To families and friends of veterans, and to all Americans, we invite you to join us in celebrating this day by grasping the rich history of those who bravely volunteered to survey and defend our seas.