WASHINGTON – The U.S. Coast Guard’s all-volunteer service, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, celebrates 77 years of service to the United States Thursday.
“For the last 77 years, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary has answered the call to support our Coast Guard and our great nation on the water, in the air and ashore,” said Mark Simoni, national commodore of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.
The auxiliary is made up of more than 28,000 uniformed civilian volunteers and provides trained crews and facilities to augment the U.S. Coast Guard and enhance the safety and security of our nation’s ports, waterways and coastal regions.
“With our unwavering support of our primary mission of promoting and improving recreational boating safety, we have seen historic lows in the number of boating fatalities and a new record low in the number of injuries to recreational boaters,” said Simoni.
Over the last five years alone auxiliarists have performed 583,500 vessel safety checks, taught 320,000 hours of boating safety courses, conducted 809,000 hours of public outreach, gave 2 million hours of administrative support, rescued $157 million in property, and saved 785 lives, while assisting 11,000 others.
Auxiliary members also provide skill sets not often found in the Coast Guard. For example, the Auxiliary Interpreter Corps has 450 trained volunteers with expertise in 48 languages. The Interpreter Corps fills roles in support of international training exercises, forums and partner nation programs.
“Our auxiliarists bring their valuable skills, across 64 competencies, to all our Coast Guard missions,” said Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft. “Our missions are far too many and far too complex to accomplish with so few people. Today, we sustain mission excellence with our entire force of active, reserve, civilian and volunteer auxiliarists.”
“Auxiliarists are accountants, lawyers, doctors, chefs, carpenters, welders, public relations specialists, teachers, musicians and even a nuclear engineer or two,” said Zukunft. “They bring master-level proficiency to our service.”
Auxiliarists operate in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, America Samoa and Guam.
The Coast Guard Auxiliary was authorized by an act of Congress in 1939, when the Coast Guard was given a legislative mandate to use civilians to promote safety on and over the high seas and the nation’s navigable waters.