“Upon regaining consciousness his only question was ‘Did they get off?’, and so died with a smile on his face and the full knowledge that he had successfully accomplished a dangerous mission.” Read more about Signalman 1st Class Douglas Munro’s heroism during the Battle of Guadalcanal.
In studying the historical record of by-gone days, scholars often come across men and women whose deeds are long forgotten by the nation they once served. Such is the case of Charles S. Root, one of the bravest and most accomplished engineering officers in Coast Guard history, who distinguished himself early in his career as a heroic lifesaver.
Passing over vast regions never seen by the human eye, discovering new landforms, exploring unknown and un-mapped areas of the Russian arctic in an Indian Jones-style adventure in 1931, Lt. Cmdr. Edward “Iceberg” Smith proved that polar exploration could be accomplished safely and comfortably with the aid of airship technology such as the Graf Zeppelin.
The harrowing events of Sept. 11, 2001, forever changed the United States as more than 3,000 Americans tragically lost their lives in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Despite those horrible events, many people acted heroically on that day and in the aftermath of the attacks. Today, we remember all those lost on 9/11, and thank all those who helped our nation become stronger and safer in the years since.
Capt. John Henriques is best known for behing the first superintendent of the Revenue Cutter Service School of Instruction and forerunner of the modern Coast Guard Academy. Read more to learn more about this cutterman and his importance to the Service and its officer corps.
For many individuals it takes a lifetime to learn the skills of leadership, while others come to it naturally. African-American Charles Walter David, Jr., namesake of Fast Response Cutter David, knew instinctively how to lead others despite barriers imposed by the segregated society of mid-20th century America. David served in the United States Coast Guard early in World War II, when the military services barred African Americans from the officer ranks and limited them largely to non-senior enlisted ratings.
When Hurricane Katrina made landfall just outside of New Orleans on Aug. 29, 2005, it marked the beginning of one of the largest search and rescue operations the Coast Guard had ever seen. While the landfall may have marked the end of the storm, it was only just the beginning of a long-term response and recovery effort for the city of New Orleans and the region as a whole.
It was 6:10 a.m., when it came ashore in southeast Louisiana, blowing 125 mph winds and dumping heavy rain. No one could predict just how devastating the strong Category 3 hurricane would be for New Orleans. And no one knew at the time, but the Coast Guard’s response to Hurricane Katrina would turn out to be one of the largest search and rescue mission in the nation’s history.
I was privileged to meet many of those first responders whose heroic feats were featured in Paratus 14:50, and I saw first-hand the raw emotions still evident from the historic number of lives saved and the unforgettable tragedy of lives lost during Katrina. While our objective was to save everyone by any and all means, 1,883 people perished and Katrina still conjures thoughts of loss and mourning – certainly not an event to celebrate.
This blog is part of a series that reflects upon the tracking, landfall, response and long-term recovery 10 years ago when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. Throughout each stage, Coast Guard men and women played an integral part in the immediate rescue and recovery efforts. Follow along this weekend as Coast Guard Compass remembers Katrina.