June 23rd is the official Coast Guard Auxiliary birthday. Most are familiar with the Coast Guard, and while the Coast Guard Reserve isn’t quite as well known, it’s the Coast Guard Auxiliary which remains one of the more obscure (but important) groups that has traditionally been associated with the United States Military.
The Coast Guard Auxiliary Birthday will be Tuesday, June 23, 2020.
The U.S. Armed Forces are made up of Active Duty components supplemented by Reserve forces such as the Army Reserve, Air Force Reserve, etc, but a non-military and unpaid civilian auxiliary exists for two branches; the Air Force and Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard is considered military service but is not part of the Defense Department, which is an important distinction from its’ Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps counterparts.
The Coast Guard Auxiliary is, as mentioned above, an unpaid force of volunteers who perform duties similar to or in support of the regular Coast Guard. Legislation passed in the mid-1990s authorized the Auxiliary to support any Coast Guard missions not involving law enforcement or real-world military operations.
Further legislation realigned the Coast Guard, Reserve, and Auxiliary under the Department of Homeland Security. Prior to that, it was considered part of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The Coast Guard Auxiliary mission involves many activities that promote and support maritime safety, recreational boating safety, fighting pollution, even rescues and lifesaving.
A Brief History Of The Coast Guard Auxiliary
On June 23, 1939, Congress authorized the creation of a Reserve component for the Coast Guard. At the time, the Coast Guard Reserve was made up of civilian volunteers, but later Congress acted to make the Reserve a bona fide branch of the Armed Forces just like the Air Force Reserve, Army Reserve, etc.
That act, known as the Auxiliary And Reserve Act of 1941, established the Coast Guard Auxiliary alongside the Reserve.
The newly created Coast Guard Auxiliary would basically be tasked to perform in the same way the original Coast Guard Reserve had, utilizing a non-military and all-volunteer force to serve in America’s waterways, the high seas, and other “navigable waters”.
Those who served in the earlier Reserve and later with the Auxiliary often owned their own vessels, but today’s service requirements for Coast Guard Auxiliary volunteers does not necessarily include boat ownership.
June 23: The Official Birthday Of The Coast Guard Auxiliary
Because of the way the Auxiliary began, the official birthday may seem a bit confusing. The Coast Guard Reserve official birthday is designated as February 19, the day the Guard became an actual part of the military.
The Coast Guard Auxiliary birthday is designated as June 23, since it was created “in spirit” then, even if it wasn’t known by its’ current name at the time.
The easiest way to keep these two important birthdays straight is to remember that June 23 is the birthday of the organization that required an unpaid volunteer force, while February 19 is the birthday of the Coast Guard organization that became formally known as its’ own branch of service.
How To Celebrate The Coast Guard Auxiliary Birthday
The Auxiliary has a variety of missions, but among them, the word “safety” comes up again and again. One good way to celebrate the Coast Guard Auxiliary birthday is to participate in the Auxiliary’s mission to make boating, seafaring, and waterway use as safe as possible.
The Auxiliary performs free “Vessel Safety Checks”, holds all-ages recreational boat safety classes, and perform routine waterway patrols. You can find these public boating courses and more via the Auxiliary’s official website.
Participating in the classes and safety checks is one way to observe the birthday; giving way to Auxiliary vessels performing missions in local waterways is another. And of course, some may feel motivated to consider volunteering their time serving in the Auxiliary itself.
The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary official site says membership is open to U.S. citizens ages 17 and older, and especially to current or former members of the military. Owning a boat, aircraft, or radio gear is not a requirement but is definitely considered a plus when joining. You can learn how to join the Coast Guard Auxiliary at their official site.
Some Auxiliary training is close, if not identical to, regular Coast Guard procedures; coursework includes navigation, search and rescue, marine engines, and meteorology.
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