25 Facts for 225 Years: Celebrating the Coast Guard’s 225th Birthday

DOD photo

DOD photos

August 4 the 225th birthday of the United States Coast Guard. To mark the occasion, here are 25 facts you may not know about one of the United States’ oldest organizations.

1. The Coast Guard was founded on August 4, 1790, after Congress commissioned the construction of ten ships to help enforce federal tariffs and prevent smuggling.

2. Alex Haley, who wrote the acclaimed Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “Roots,” was the Coast Guard’s first journalist.

3. The Coast Guard has two official flags: The Coast Guard standard and the Coast Guard ensign.

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4. Becoming a Coast Guard rescue swimmer is extremely hard. More than half the people who try out fail.

5. Walt Disney created a special logo for the Coast Guard’s Corsair Fleet during World War II, featuring Donald Duck.

6. Members of the Coast Guard have served in 17 wars and conflicts throughout U.S. history.

7. Anthony Christy was the oldest active serving Coast Guard member. The keeper of the Christiana Lighthouse in Delaware, Christy died on duty in September 1862 at the age of 105.

8. Since 2003, the Coast Guard has been operating as part of the Department of Homeland Security.

9. In 1791, the Coast Guard launched its first cutter Vigilant.

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10. The first permanent Coast Guard Air Station was in Cape May, New Jersey, in 1926.

11. In 1967, the Coast Guard adopted the trademark red slash design – or racing stripe – that appears on its vessels.

12. In 1941, the Coast Guard hired its first civilian women to serve in secretarial and clerical positions.

13. 241,093 Coast Guard members served during World War II.

14. “Semper Paratus” is the Coast Guard motto.

15. While many animals have served as mascots aboard Coast Guard vessels, Sinbad, a dog, is one of the service’s most famous. He served on board the cutter Campbell during World War II, keeping troops company during their voyages.

DOD photo

16. The Coast Guard was referred to as the Revenue Marine and the Revenue Cutter Service throughout the late 18th and the 19th centuries.

17. The Coast Guard has authorized a total of 43 battle streamers, which are attached to the Coast Guard standard, replacing cords and tassels.  They are carried in all ceremonies representing heroic actions in all naval encounters from 1798 to today.  Any Coast Guard unit may display the battle streamers.

18. The Coast Guard refers to a vessel as a “cutter” if it’s over 65-feet long.

19. From 1942-44, the Coast Guard had a championship hockey team called the Cutters that played in the Eastern Amateur Hockey League, considered to be one of the most competitive leagues of its time.

20. Until the Navy was re-established in 1797, the Coast Guard was the only naval service in the country.

Twin sisters Genevieve and Lucille Baker

Twin sisters Genevieve and Lucille Baker.

21. In 1918, sisters Genevieve and Lucille Baker were the first uniformed women to serve in the Coast Guard.

22. President George Washington commissioned the first Coast Guard officer, Captain Hopley Yeaton, on March 21, 1791.

23. The oldest Coast Guard boat station is in Sandy Hook, New Jersey.

24. In 1967, the Coast Guard icebreaker Eastwind became the first cutter to ever sail around Antarctica. Eastwind was also the first ship to circumnavigate Antarctica since 1843.

25. The Coast Guard core values are honor, respect and devotion to duty.

–Information from uscg.mil and other sources.

Former USO Volunteer of the Year Retires After Sending Off and Welcoming More than 300,000 Troops

Mary Nelson Adams is congratulated during her farewell ceremony on Friday in Georgia. Photo courtesy of Steve Hart

Mary Nelson Adams is congratulated during her farewell ceremony on Friday in Georgia. Photo courtesy of Steve Hart

Mary Nelson Adams added one more milestone to her USO volunteer career on Friday. But before she said goodbye to everyone else, she needed to see off a few more service members.

Adams, 79,  waved goodbye to nearly two dozen Iraq-bound soldiers at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia, before receiving her own ceremonial sendoff. She retired from 12 years of volunteering for the USO of Georgia after a career of bidding farewell or welcoming home nearly 300,000 service members from the recent wars. Her dedication led her to be named the first worldwide USO Volunteer of the Year in 2008.

“Each man and woman in a uniform is our freedom,” Adams told the Savannah News. “I can go home and get in a clean, warm bed each night and they can’t.”

Adams also received citations from military officials on site at the base’s Truscott Air Terminal.

“She has really [helped service members] in a tangible way,” USO of Georgia CEO Mary Lou Austin said.

26 Years Later, Military Spouse Renews Family Tradition By Painting a Children’s Mural at USO Guam

A panoramic view of part of the children's room at USO Guam. USO photos

A panoramic view of part of the children’s room at USO Guam. USO photo

Kasia Bennett has come full circle.

A lifelong artist, the beachy blonde describes herself as a flower child of the 1970s who was so against the Vietnam War that she admits to vilifying returning troops then because she thought “they were a part of the ‘problem.’”

That was until a Marine pilot swept her off her feet. The transition to military life changed the mother of two’s perspective. Now, while’s he’s flying a commercial airliner at 30,000 feet, Kasia is down on Earth pouring her heart into a new acrylic mural inside the children’s room at USO Guam.

“Honestly I am ashamed of my former beliefs and attitudes,” she wrote in an email interview with the USO. “I have learned about and come to appreciate the depth of commitment the enlisted men and women give. Paying if needed, the ultimate price and giving their lives for our nation.

“The time that I give volunteering at the USO to make a soldier or their family’s day a little easier or more pleasant will never be too much to ask.”

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The full-room work of three-dimensional art honors the local Chamorro people, highlights the cultural beauty of Guam and brings life-size Sesame Street characters to the walls to welcome military children.

“What was once designed as a USO for single service members, the Pacific pivot means more and more families are coming to Guam with very different needs,” said Leigh Leilani Graham, Area Director of USO Hawaii and Guam


Graham described USO Guam as a “destination center” with more of an island spa feel as opposed to the more traditional USO centers military families are used to at airports and bases.

Bennett, a USO volunteer, has spent more than 200 hours creating the mural. And it’s not the first time her family helped paint the building. It was actually the discovery of an old newspaper clipping of her husband, Craig, 26 years ago, painting a USO Guam wall that motivated her.

“The location of the facility has changed, [but] we are keeping volunteering at the USO a family tradition,” Bennett wrote in an email. The USO has moved from Piti to The Royal Orchid on Tumon Bay between the time her husband painted the roof and now.

“It felt fantastic to give my time,” she wrote. “I was made to feel appreciated and supported during the entire endeavor by the Guam USO staff.”

Almay Helps the USO While Highlighting the Strength and Determination of Military Women

Our blog readers will be familiar with the story of Margaux Mange, a former military police officer who suffered a traumatic brain injury and PTSD after a pair of bombings in 2006 and 2007, the second of which killed three of her close friends. Her lingering injuries put her in a constant state of pain and depression. 

But Mange has been a model of resiliency. She had nearly 130 hyperbaric oxygen treatments that have helped diminish her pain and let her be active again. In the last several years, she’s won medals at the Warrior Games, trekked to the South Pole and recently attempted to summit Denali in Alaska.

Her strength and determination mirrors the values trumpeted by USO partner Almay. The cosmetics giant is celebrating female service members with their Simply American campaign. As part of the initiative, Almay is donating $250,000 to the USO and creating a #SimplyAmerican social push to raise additional funds and awareness.

Almay was so impressed by Mange that they wanted to hold her up as an example of the Simply American spirit. So when it came time to talk about their USO partnership on ABC’s “The View” this spring, Mange was front and center.

“I was in pain trying to climb up a flight of stairs, so I thought that the couch would be my best friend,” Mange said about the years after her injuries. “But after remembering that three of my best friends died in Iraq, I couldn’t live that way for them. So, with their memories, I chose to live instead.”

Almay will continue highlighting women like Mange throughout the summer in two unique ways.

First, they’re embarking on a summer-long road trip to fairs and festivals to create what they’re calling a Simply American experience that celebrates female service members, military wives and their families.

Almay also is soliciting photos depicting “Simply American moments.” The company will donate one dollar for every like or share on social media that uses the hashtag #SimplyAmerican up to a total of $10,000.

“Almay celebrates the spirit of American beauty,” Almay Vice President of Marketing Jill Krakowski said. “This fresh, uncomplicated, all-American beauty look. And there is no better embodiment of this spirit than the women of the U.S. military.”

Starbucks Hosts USO Transition 360 Alliance Event in Seattle

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SEATTLE–Coffee titan and USO partner Starbucks hosted a USO Transition 360 Alliance Career Opportunity Day on Thursday at Starbucks Center.

The synergy at Thursday’s event was ideal, as Starbucks — which has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars in product to troops through the USO — has committed to hiring 10,000 former service members and their family members by 2018.

“I’m really excited about the opportunity for [the USO Transition 360 Alliance],” Starbucks Military Talent Acquisition Director Tom Tice said in an interview last month. “This venture into employment for the USO in partnership with other organizations like Hire Heroes USA really brings a new value to what the USO is doing for service members and their families.

“Starbucks is really honored from a military recruiting perspective to be a part of that. And I think we’re going to be able to build a relationship that can last.”

Career Opportunity Days, a joint venture between the USO and Hire Heroes USA, give transitioning service members the chance to do mock interviews and get real-time feedback with perspective employers. Sometimes, those interviews turn into real jobs.

USO Partner Kroger Hosts 13 Red, White and BBQ Events for Troops and Families Around the World

Kroger — a longtime USO partner — understands how many family dinners America’s troops miss while they’re deployed. As a gesture of their appreciation, the grocery giant hosted Red, White and BBQ events in 10 cities and towns across the United States and three additional celebrations on U.S. bases in Germany and Kuwait serving roughly 7,000 troops and their families.

Kroger has been a USO partner since 2010, raising more than $11.9 million through its Honoring Our Heroes program. The funds support USO programs and services that help troops and military families from the moment they join, through deployments and as they transition into civilian life.