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The Coast Guard Auxiliary Turns 75

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary celebrated its diamond anniversary on June 23. At 30,000 members strong, this all-volunteer force helps keep the nation’s waterways safe and secure.

“Beyond the day to day, the Auxiliary has been there as part of the Coast Guard’s total force in every major disaster,” said Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft.

Established by Congress on June 23, 1939, as the Coast Guard Reserve, it was given a legislative mandate to use civilians to promote safety on the high seas and the country’s navigable waters. Congress amended the act with passage of the Auxiliary and Reserve Act of 1941. Passage of this act designated the Reserve as a military branch of the active service, while the civilian section, formerly referred to as the Coast Guard Reserve, became the Auxiliary.

“Beyond the day to day, the Auxiliary has been there as part of the Coast Guard’s total force in every major disaster,” said Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft at a June 23 ceremony. “During disasters, the Auxiliary takes action to provide air support, conduct search and rescue, fix aids to navigation, conduct public affairs and augment units at home stations whose responders are deployed.”

Commodore Thomas C. Mallison, national commodore of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, speaks at a ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of the all-volunteer Coast Guard Auxiliary. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley

Commodore Thomas C. Mallison, national commodore of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, speaks at a ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of the all-volunteer Coast Guard Auxiliary. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley

The Coast Guard Auxiliary has a storied and committed past: Auxiliarists have augmented the Coast Guard over the past seven decades, when 50,000 members entered World War II to join the war effort and their tradition to surge when needed.

The Auxiliary operates in

  • Safety and Security Patrols
  • Search and Rescue
  • Mass Casualty or Disasters
  • Pollution Response & Patrols
  • Homeland Security
  • Recreational Boating Safety
  • Commercial Fishing and Vessel Exams
  • Platforms for Boarding Parties
  • Recruit for all service in the Coast Guard

Additionally, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary operates in any mission as directed by the commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard or secretary of Homeland Security.

Commodore Thomas C. Mallison is the national commodore of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. Each year auxiliarists volunteer more than 2 million hours, benefitting boaters and their families and the nation.

Like its parent service, the Coast Guard Auxiliary is Semper Paratus (always ready).

Arnie Geller, a Coast Guard auxiliarist. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ross Ruddell

Arnie Geller, a Coast Guard auxiliarist. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ross Ruddell

Auxiliarist Arnie Geller, who has served for 34 years, comes from a lineage of “America’s Maritime Volunteers” and works out of Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England, located in East Providence, R.I. “My Dad joined five years before I did,” he said, “and my mom did a little after me. It was just something I always wanted to do, give my time to the Coast Guard and help out in any way I can.”