A World War II recruiting poster for SPARs, the Women’s Reserve branch of the U.S. Coast Guard. U.S. Coast Guard image.

The Long Blue Line: SPARs – female trailblazers of the Coast Guard

By the end of World War II, nearly 12,000 SPARs had served in the Coast Guard. They pioneered the role of their gender in the service, the federal government and the nation as a whole. They have since helped shape the Coast Guard into a better institution for all men and women and continue to do so today.


The Long Blue Line: African-Americans in the U.S. Coast Guard (Part 2)

In the second part of the history of African-Americans serving in the U.S. Coast Guard, we recognize several members who have made an impact on the Coast Guard and the many firsts they have accomplished.


Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: Cmdr. Zeita Merchant

Cmdr. Zeita Merchant assumed the duties of the commanding officer of Marine Safety Unit Chicago in July and became the first African-American female in the Coast Guard to command a marine safety unit (MSU). She is also the first female to command an MSU in the Great Lakes.


1st African-American female Coast Guardsman honored

The Long Blue Line: Olivia Hooker – Minority Trailblazer and Community Leader

Despite experiencing hatred and racism in her youth, Dr. Olivia Hooker has dedicated her life to serving the needs of her community and her nation, living by her life philosophy, “it’s not about you or me; it’s about what we can give to this world.” Now, at the age of 101, Hooker remains an important member of the long blue line and an example of the Coast Guard’s core values of honor, respect and devotion to duty.


Honoring living history

Honoring living history

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft dedicated a training center within Coast Guard Headquarters in honor of Dr. Olivia Hooker, the first African-American woman in the Coast Guard.


Olivia Hooker recalled her experiences as one of the first African American female members in the Coast Guard SPAR program during World War II. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

A national treasure

On Nov. 23, 1942, legislation approved the implementation of the United States Coast Guard Women’s Reserve. The women who joined were more commonly known as SPARs – an acronym derived from the Coast Guard’s motto, ‘Semper Paratus, Always Ready’ – and formed the foundation for women serving today. On March 9, 1945, Olivia Hooker headed to boot camp. While women had been heading enlisting for months by then, one thing was unique about Hooker – she was one of only five African American females to first enlist in the SPAR program.


Olivia Hooker

Olivia Hooker: A SPAR’s Story

On Nov. 23, 1942, legislation approved the implementation of the United States Coast Guard Women’s Reserve; the program known as SPAR – the acronym derived from the translations of the Coast Guard’s motto, ‘Semper Paratus, Always Ready’ – became the foundation for women in the Coast Guard today.


Dr. Olivia Hooker

Dr. Olivia Hooker: Veteran trail blazer

The following is an excerpt from the White Plains Patch reprinted with permission. Westchester County recently presented Dr. Olivia Hooker, a World War II Coast Guard SPAR and one of the first African American women to enlist in the service, […]