U.S Coast Guard Reserves celebrates 70 years of service to the American public

SEATTLE – The U.S. Coast Guard Reserves will celebrate their 70th Anniversary on Saturday. To the public, the Coast Guard is a sea-going service whether wearing their Operation Dress Uniforms or Service Dress Blue. But co-existing with the active duty members are a trained workforce with a unique blend of civilian and military education and experience; who maintain the same dedication of service to the American public and the Coast Guard as the sea-services’ active component.

The Coast Guard Reserve was established by the passage of the Coast Guard Reserve and Auxiliary Act of February 19, 1941. On November 23, 1942, Congress enacted Public Law 773 establishing the Women’s Reserve as a branch of the Coast Guard. Members of this branch became known as SPARs, an acronym drawn from the Service’s motto, Semper Paratus, Always Ready.

More than 92% of the 214,000 personnel who served in the Coast Guard during World War II were Reservists serving in all Coast Guard mission areas, with an additional 125,000 personnel serving in the Temporary Reserve.

In Spring 1973, the Reserve exercised its first involuntary recall to support flood response operations in the Midwest. Some 134 Reservists were recalled. Between then and 1990, only one other involuntary recall was invoked: the Mariel Boat Lift exodus from Cuba in 1980. Additionally, Reservist played a major role in the Coast Guard’s 1996 TWA Flight 800 response and the 1999 John F. Kennedy, Jr. and Egypt Air Flight 990 tragedies.

In recent times, the value of the Coast Guard Reservist has been paramount to the success of major Coast Guard responses. From the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C, to the 2005 Hurricane Katrina Response, to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Response, the Coast Guard would not have been able to complete the mission without the service of the reserve forces.

“The Coast Guard depends on the Reserve force to be always ready to mobilize with critical competencies in boat operations, contingency planning and response, expeditionary warfare, marine safety, port security, law enforcement, and mission support,” stated Adm. Robert Papp, Commandant of the Coast Guard, in his U.S. Coast Guard Reserve Policy Statement.

And the call to ‘always be ready to mobilize’ was heard by more than 230 Thirteenth District Reservists who deploy in response the Deepwater Horizon spill; 28 are currently deployed.

“The impact of investment in the Coast Guard Reserves extends further than their respective area of responsibility,” said Cmdr. Charles Davis, Chief of the Thirteenth District’s Reserve Force Readiness Branch.

The 13th Coast Guard District, Guardians of the Pacific Northwest, have a reserve component of more than 750 men and women who provide their civilian and military education and experience to serving the American public.

“I joined (the Coast Guard Reserves) because everyone I talked to about the Coast Guard spoke positive about their experiences and the missions,” said Ensign Matt Tighe, a Coast Guard Reservist assigned to the Thirteenth District Operational Planning Branch.

Tighe, who in his civilian position is a King County Sheriff’s Deputy, manages the systematic plan that assures the Coast Guard will not suffer a disruption of operations during a tragic event that affects the Coast Guard’s assets or infrastructure.

I take my job seriously because “lives are at risk if we shut down,” said Tighe.

Several Thirteenth Coast Guard District Reservist’s service to America extends beyond the Pacific Northwest. The Coast Guard Port Security Unit 313, based in Everett, Wash., deployed to the Middle East, Feb. 10, 2011, in support of Operation New Dawn.

PSU 313 deployed, from Fort Dix, N.J., with the Navy’s Maritime Expeditionary Squadron Three as part of Combined Task Group 56.5, under the Naval Expeditionary Combat Command. They are charged with providing harbor defense and security to ports, seaward approaches, and waterways within U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility.

FORT DIX, N.J. -Port Security Unit 313, homeported in Everett, Wash., pose for a unit photo at Fort Dix, N.J., before deploying to Kuwait Feb. 10, 2011. PSU 313 has 108 members attached. U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Crystalynn A. Kneen.

FORT DIX, N.J. - Port Security Unit 313, homeported in Everett, Wash., pose for a unit photo at Fort Dix Feb. 10, 2011. PSU 313 is deploying to Kuwait City . U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Petty Officer Crystalynn A. Kneen.

PSUs have a proud operational heritage, including recent security and humanitarian support to Haiti after last year’s devastating island earthquake; and, in support of Operations’ Enduring Freedom, Desert Storm, Noble Eagle and Uphold Democracy.

For 70 years, and surly many more to come, one of the proven keys to the Coast Guard’s success has been the Coast Guard Reservist. Today’s Coast Guard Reserve Forces include more than 8,100 members who found the time to manage a civilian job as well as military service. No matter what the mission, when it occurs or where, the Coast Guard Reservist has been ‘Always Ready’ to serve the American public.

For more information on Coast Guard Reserve opportunities, go to http://www.gocoastguard.com/find-your-career/reserve-opportunities.

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