This article was originally posted on Coast Guard Compass, the official blog of the U.S. Coast Guard.
Today marks the diamond anniversary for the Coast Guard Reserve, founded on Feb. 19, as part of the Auxiliary and Reserve Act of 1941. For 75 years, Coast Guard Reserve members have served alongside the active duty force in every major conflict, or crisis, this nation has faced.
Port Security Unit 307 members stand in formation during a homecoming ceremony after returning home from an extended deployment to the Middle East. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Tara Molle.
During World War II, reservists were present from Europe to the Pacific, from manning Coast Guard and U.S. Navy ships, to acting as coxswains on invasion landing craft. By the end of the war, there were 142,300 reservists, outnumbering the regular Coast Guard by over five to one.
Additionally, the Women’s Reserve of the Coast Guard, or the SPARs, was established on Nov. 23, 1942, to aid with the release of men to afloat or other duties. By war’s end, more than 10,000 had served on active duty. The name SPARs is an acronym of the Coast Guard’s slogan: “Semper Paratus — Always Ready.”
In the 1950s, Coast Guard reservists were active in the Korean War, with 675 volunteering for active duty in the first year of the conflict, and during the Vietnam conflict, more than 18,000 Reserve personnel served in Southeast Asia.
However, as the war ended, peacetime brought new a direction to the Reserve, and in October in 1972 Congress authorized the involuntary call up of Coast Guard reservists when needed such as after natural and environmental disasters, humanitarian crises, and shipping and aircraft accidents.
In the 1980s, reservist responded to numerous incidents, including numerous floods on the inland rivers, the Mariel Boatlift and numerous hurricanes. In 1989, the Coast Guard Reserve provided support following the oil spill from the M/V Exxon Valdez and the San Francisco earthquake.
Photo of the Women’s Reserve of the Coast Guard, more commonly known as the SPARs. U.S. Coast Guard photo.
Approximately 1,650 reservists responded for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm as well as called up for deadly hurricanes and typhoons, inland river floods, the crashes of TWA Flight 800 and John F. Kennedy Jr.’s plane, massive migrant recoveries, as well as several oil spills.
In the wake of 9/11, reservists served in Operation Enduring Freedom and the global war on terror. Reservists were there to assist with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, flooding in New York and the Midwest, and the environmental disaster from Deepwater Horizon.
“I am extremely proud to be serving in an organization that continues to be so adaptable and forward leaning in its ability to ‘answer the call,’” said Lt. Cmdr. Art Hudman, Sector New York Reserve Chief for the Incident Management Division.
The nearly 7,000 men and women who make up the current Reserve force are citizen sailors. Flexible and responsive, many freely sacrifice their free time to serve their community and nation. They dedicate their weekends and vacation time to support the service’s missions.
“The dedicated Reserve members I have served alongside with during disaster responses, law enforcement activities and environmental mitigation efforts really demonstrate the reserve capabilities to meet the ever expanding missions of the U.S. Coast Guard,” said Hudman.
The Coast Guard depends on the Reserve force to be always ready to mobilize with critical competencies in boat operations, contingency planning and response, expeditionary warfare, marine safety, port security, law enforcement and mission support.
“The diversity of challenges that I have experienced throughout my Coast Guard Reserve career not only defined me as a reservist, but has shaped who I am today,” said Hudman.
Written by Petty Officer 2nd Class Sara A. Romero and original posted on Coast Guard Compass, the official blog of the U.S. Coast Guard.