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Fun Facts about the Coast Guard

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Fun Facts about the Coast Guard

Alice, Golden Empire Council

  • The oldest Coast Guard Air Station still in operation is the one in San Diego, which opened in 1934.

  • The Coast Guard was first established in August, 1790, to enforce trade laws and prevent smuggling. The Coast Guard seizes over 1,000 pounds of illegal drugs every day.

  • In peacetime, the Coast Guard is unit of Homeland Security. In wartime, it is under the direction of the President.

  • The only Coast Guard lighthouse equipped with an elevator is in Charlestown, South Carolina.

  • Lifesaving personnel from the Kill Devil Hills Coast Guard Station helped the Wright brothers during the world’s first heavier than air flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina on December 17, 1903.

  • Kelly Mogk was the first female rescue swimmer in the Coast Guard and the first to graduate from the Navy’s Rescue Swimmer School in May 1986. She earned an Air Medal for her first rescue in January, 1989.

  • On March 20, 1978, first set of quadruplets to enlist in a U.S. military service took the oath to join the Coast Guard - the Guinnane quads, Gerard, Paul, Vincent and Peter of Detroit.

  • On April 6, 1949, a US Coast Guard helicopter flew from Elizabeth, New Jersey to Port Angeles, Washington, a distance of 3,750 miles – the longest unescorted helicopter flight to date, and the first transcontinental flight. The trip took 10.5 days with a total of 57.6 hours in flight.

  • Bobby C. Wilks was the first African-American Coast Guard aviator, the first African American to command a Coast Guard air station, and the first African American to reach the rank of Captain.

  • The Coast Guard is the only military service with two official flags; the first is the Standard, which is used during parades and ceremonies. All 43 battle streamers (the ribbons on the left) are displayed with the standard.

  • For more info on the Standard and the Streamers go to: and

  • The second flag is the Coast Guard ensign, which is flown on all vessels as a mark of authority for boarding, examinations and seizures of vessels to enforce the laws of the United States. The American flag is also flown, but the ensign serves as the mark of the Coast Guard service. The ensign is never carried in parades or ceremonies. But there is a lot of symbolism in the standard – there are 13 stars, 13 leaves to the olive branch, and 13 arrows and 13 bars on the shield, a reference to the number of states when the service began. But there are 16 stripes, referring to the number of states when the ensign was adopted. The color red stands for youth and sacrifice; the color blue stands for justice and a covenant against oppression; the color white stands for a desire for light and purity.

  • Joshua James is one of the most celebrated lifesavers in Coast Guard history, with 600 lives saved. He earned two gold medals, three silver medals, and other awards, after joining the Coast Guard at age 15. His most famous rescue was in November of 1888. James and his crew saved 29 people from five different vessels during one of the worst storms to hit Hull, Mass.

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