Thursday, August 4, 2011

Happy Coast Guard Day!

Today is the 221st anniversary of the founding of the United States Coast Guard. My husband and I both spent time in the Coast Guard.  He entered Officer Candidate School at Yorktown, Virginia, after graduating from Florida State University.  We married while he was in the Coast Guard on active duty.  He was assigned to the Coast Guard Cutter Ingham out of Norfolk, Virginia.  I was on contract to the Jacksonville Public Library, which had sponsored me for graduate school in library science under the Library Services and Construction Act. 

Once we were a family unit again -- to which had been added our older daughter Marti -- we went to St. Petersburg, Florida, where he was assigned to the Group office.  He had so much fun overseeing safety at regattas; being liaison with the Coast Guard Auxiliary, a civilian body which voluntarily provides a great deal of help to the Coast Guard; and taking other assignments as they came along.  I saw how much he was enjoying it, I decided to join, too, an idea he enthusiastically supported.

That did not happen until we returned to Jacksonville after he had been released from active duty and transferred to the Coast Guard Reserve.  I enlisted in the Reserve in February of 1976 as a yeoman third class.   By the time I had to stand down because of the onset and progress of osteoarthritis, I was a lieutenant (junior grade).  During my time in, I had had some fascinating and fun stints of active duty, as well.

It was not until fairly recently that I discovered my husband's genealogical link to the Coast Guard.  During World War II, local people along the coasts of the United States could serve as temporary members of the Coast Guard, with such duties as patrolling the waterfront or the beaches.  Among my husband's grandfather's papers and his father's papers, we found documents showing us that both his father and grandfather had been temporary Coast Guard personnel during the war.  When he went into OCS, we thought he was the first in his family to serve in the Coast Guard.  Turns out he is a third generation Coastie.

I do have a first on my side of our family -- I am the first woman in my family to serve in the U.S. armed forces, as well as the first in the Coast Guard. 


Karen said...

What a neat surprise to find out your husband's family has a history with the Coast Guard! Great story - thanks for sharing it.

Susan Clark (Nolichucky Roots) said...

Congratulations to you both! I grew up on the east coast and was well aware of the valuable services the Coast Guard provides, but when we moved to Grand Haven, Michigan we joined that community in celebrating the Coast Guard every year. Their Coast Guard Festival is a joy to participate in. The days the cutters, ice breakers and other vessels pull into port are joyous.

Karen Packard Rhodes said...

We wanted my husband to get duty in Grand Haven, but they gave us St. Pete instead. We thought it would be big fun to live in Coast Guard City, USA. One of these Augusts, we have to get ourselves out of the oven of Florida and go up there for the festival.