National World War II Museum celebrates Coast Guard Day

Coast Guard 8th District News

The National World War II Museum will be celebrating the anniversary of the establishment of the U. S. Coast Guard on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011.

Historical author Thomas P. Ostrom will present a lecture on the contributions of the Coast Guard to the U.S. victory in World War II.

“Our celebrating the United States Coast Guard’s 221st birthday, with a ceremony followed by a wonderful presentation on the USCG in World War II by author Thomas Ostrom, himself a Coast Guard veteran, is a way in which the museum continues its support of the USCG and its legacy,” said Jeremy Collins, Conference Programs Manager for The National World War II Museum.

The U.S. Coast Guard traces its roots to five independent agencies. These agencies were the U.S. Lighthouse Service, 1789; the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service, 1790; the Steamboat Inspection Service, 1838; the U.S. Life-Saving Service, 1848; and the Bureau of Navigation, 1848. As demand deemed necessary and technologies increased, these five agencies were gradually merged together to form the agency known today as the Coast Guard.

For more than 200 years, the Coast Guard has served the people of this country in many capacities, such as search and rescue, law enforcement, military and homeland security. The Coast Guard’s versatility has allowed the service to adapt to the changing demands of a nation with more than 95,000 miles of coastline and 25,000 miles of commercially navigable waterways.

In his most recent book, The United States Coast Guard in World War II, Ostrom gives an overview of the role the Coast Guard played in the European and Pacific theaters of operation, as well as its role on the home front.

During World War II, the United States enlisted 241,093 Coast Guard members.

Overseas, Coast Guardsmen teamed up with Allied Forces during the war, working with the Navy, Army and Marine Corps in combat zones in the Atlantic, Mediterranean and Pacific.

“The Coast Guard was especially noted for their skill in landing operations and support of the injured on the beaches,” Ostrom said.

Stateside, the Coast Guard was busy conducting port security operations, beach patrols, search and rescue missions, fire fighting, explosive loading, espionage and sabotage defense, and a multitude of other necessary missions.

Ostrom, a retired college history professor, travels the country speaking about the three books he has already published. He spent eight years as a member of the Coast Guard Reserves, serving both ashore and afloat. His time spent in the service was a source of inspiration for his writing.

“I wanted to commemorate the service I had been a part of,” Ostrom said. “When I started these books, I had no idea the complexity and how broad the Coast Guard missions were at home and overseas.”

A fourth book, The U.S. Coast Guard in National Defense, chronicling the Coast Guard’s involvement in all major American conflicts, including new missions in homeland security, is scheduled for release in fall 2011.

The museum now has two landing craft vehicle and personnel vessels, also known as Higgins Boats, on display. These vessels allowed infantry and small vehicles to exit through a front ramp, a design that protected troops from hostile fire and is credited as being instrumental in the success of Allied Force beach landings.

“We proudly showcase our two Higgins Boats that carry the numbers of actual World War II Coast Guard landing craft,” Collins said. “Our LCVP is numbered 33-21 in honor of the landing craft which our long-time, but sadly departed, volunteer Marvin Perret steered towards Utah Beach on D-Day.”

Since opening its doors on June 6, 2000, the museum has enjoyed a positive relationship with both active duty and veteran Coast Guard members. While the number of World War II Coast Guard veteran volunteers at the museum has dwindled in recent years, post-war Coast Guardsmen now volunteer to help continue to honor and preserve the legacy of the World War II generation.

“The museum has long valued the service of the United States Coast Guard in World War II as well as the Coast Guard of today,” Collins said.

Ostrom is thrilled to be a part of this legacy.

“It truly is an honor,” Ostrom said. “I want to amplify and pay tribute to the achievements, duty and respect of this wonderful service.”

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