The 82-foot patrol boat Point Cypress in camouflage paint scheme in Vietnam. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Long Blue Line: Coast Guard joined the fight in Vietnam over 50 years ago

Today, over 50 years after the service joined the fight in Vietnam, we commemorate the Coast Guardsmen who went in harm’s way, several of whom paid with their lives in a land far from home shores. In all, 8,000 Coast Guardsmen served in Vietnam. Their efforts curtailed maritime smuggling and enemy infiltration, saved hundreds of lives, and proved vital to the war effort in Vietnam.


Cutter Escanaba breaks ice early in its career on the Great Lakes. U.S. Coast Guard Collection.

The Long Blue Line: 75 years ago – Escanaba rescues hundreds then perishes

Following a U-boat attack of the passenger steamer Cherokee, Lt. Robert “Bob” Prause, Jr., developed a cold-water rescue system of tethered rescue swimmers equipped with rubber exposure suits. These came in handy later when the U.S. Army Transport Dorchester was hit by a torpedo in icy waters between Newfoundland and Greenland in 1943. Prause’s system was one of the Coast Guard’s first successful cold-water rescue methods.


On Sept. 12, 1944, the liberty ship George Ade was torpedoed off Cape Hatteras, N.C., by German Sub U-518. Coast Guard Cutters Jackson and Bedloe were sent out on a rescue mission during a hurricane. The mission ended with the loss of both cutters, including 21 of 22 officers and enlisted personnel. This painting is dedicated to these men. Painting by Louis Barberis.

The Long Blue Line: Jackson’s battle with the rogue waves of ’44

Hurricane season is upon us and while landfall devastation is a major concern, the waves made in the ocean prove themselves to be just as dangerous. The Coast Guard Cutters Jackson and Bedloe both lost the fight against rogue waves created in the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944. These crews will be remembered as part of the service’s long blue line for years to come.


An APD deploying a Higgins Boats. Given the “Dixie Cup” white hats worn by the Coast Guard crew, this photo was likely shot during practice operations before the combat landings on Tulagi Island. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Long Blue Line: Douglas Denman – Silver Star Bosun of USS Colhoun

Douglas Denman was one of many combat heroes who have served in the long blue line. Denman received the Silver Star and Purple Heart medals for his heroism in saving countless shipmates after Japanese bombers struck the USS Edmund Colhoun near Guadalcanal during World War II. The Coast Guard is proud to honor him with his namesake as one of the new fast response cutters.


A rare photo showing Asian personnel aboard Cutter Bear. These men began to serve on West Coast cutters immediately after the Civil War. (Coast Guard Collection)

The Long Blue Line: Asian-American history of the Coast Guard

For over 165 years, thousands of ethnically Asian men and women have served with distinction in the U.S. Coast Guard. They have been diligent members of the long blue line and they will play an important role in shaping the service in the 21st century.


The Long Blue Line: Fraser – the Coast Guard’s forgotten visionary

Capt. Alexander Fraser introduced the service to professionalization, new technology and moved a reluctant service toward reforms and innovations that would take place long after his death. As the first commandant of the Revenue Marine Bureau, Fraser’s foresight and enlightened leadership set the service on course for growth and modernization. He was a true seaman, a visionary and a member of the long blue line.


Painting of Revenue Cutter Miami covering troop landings at Ocean View Beach near Norfolk, Va., by Charles Mazoujian. (Coast Guard Collection)

The Long Blue Line: Civil War operations of the Revenue Cutter Service

The U.S. Revenue Cutter Service cemented the role of the service in such missions as convoy duty, blockade operations, port security, coastal patrol and brown-water combat operations – missions that remain core competencies of the Coast Guard in future combat operations. The service’s operations during the Civil War also reinforced the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service’s reputation as a legitimate branch of the armed forces.


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.


Commodore Bertholf, first commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard and first flag officer in the service’s history. U.S. Coast Guard image.

The Long Blue Line: Bertholf – second founder of the Coast Guard

The story of Ellsworth Bertholf is lost and forgotten to the American public, but to members of the Coast Guard past and present, he remains a legacy through his heroic feats in Alaska, his role in establishing the Coast Guard as a military service, and the distinguished National Security Cutter that now bears his name.


Lt. Holly Harrison aboard Coalition warship USS Milius. Coast Guard Collection.

The Long Blue Line: Holly Harrison – Bronze Star Recipient of Operation Iraqi Freedom

Holly Harrison became commanding officer of the Coast Guard Aquidneck in 2002 where she took part in Operation Iraqi Freedom becoming the first Coast Guard woman to command a Coast Guard cutter in combat. Under her command, Aquidneck and Harrison’s dedicated crew conducted innumerable maritime interdiction, search and rescue, escort and combat-related operations earning Harrison the Bronze Star Medal, of which she was the first woman in service history to achieve.


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