Thursday, December 29, 2005

It was all that I could do to keep from cryin'

Sometimes it seems so useless to remain...
You don't have to call me darlin', darlin'
You never even call me by my name…
(David Allen Coe)

ABC News has selected the United States Coast Guard as Persons of the Year.

Well… its about Ded-Gum time! After over 200 years the Coast Guard finally gets some recognition. Sources close to the Hatriolic say the above song has long been the unofficial CG anthem (second to Semper Paratus).

For the longest time the Coast Guard has been an unknown quantity. Most Americans know them only from the orange helicopter they saw on Baywatch. Maybe now Coast Guard men and women will stop hearing statements such as the Coast Guard has ships?, or aren’t you guys the reserve ‘guard’ component of the Navy? or better yet what DO you guys really do?

Yes, they be Rescuers. But they are more than that. They are a force of around 80,000 total people consisting of about 38,000 Active Duty personnel, 8,000 Reservist, 7,000 Civilians, and another 30,000 Auxiliaries. They have 200 plus aircraft and 4,900 boats. They have over 25 different classes of Cutter’s (65’ up to 400’) with between 2 to 12 vessels per class, one 295’ sailing vessel, over 200 CG aircraft (yes, they even have jets…), and over 1400 small boats. Their missions vary from Port Security to Search and Rescue to Maritime Waterway Protection (Oil Spills and Shipping Regulation enforcement) to Law Enforcement (yes… they still hunt drug smugglers) to Aids to Navigation (Buoys etc) to … well you get the picture (more at this link).

And yes, the Coast Guard was there in New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina. Many were deployed there from other commands on September 1st, and stayed through all the madness until the Coast Guard rescued well over 33,000 people. That’s right folks, thirty three thousand ‘peeps. In two weeks!

It's also noteworthy that the junior most Enlisted and Officer crews bore the brunt of this massive effort. Those were not Captains, Admirals, or Chiefs out there in those helicopters and boats – they were the youngest the Coast Guard had to offer (like 18 – late 20’s). Many of these crews operated independently without specific task direction in the riskiest of situations and the most arduous of circumstances. I feel we owe these folks our most heartfelt thanks.

So BZ Coast Guard! Thank you ABC for remembering the Coast Guard! Time Mag should be jealous.