Guardian of the Week – Rep. Bill Delahunt, Mass.

Rep. Bill Delahunt was a founding member of the Coast Guard Caucus in 1999. Photo courtesy Rep. Delahunt.

Our Guardian of the Week has served the Coast Guard  in one way or another since graduating with boot camp company Quebec 51 over 40 years ago.  Rep. Bill Delahunt, Mass., served as a Radarman in the Coast Guard Reserves from 1963 to 1971.  Since being elected to Congress in 1997 he has been a strong patron of the service and its members.  It was his initiative that led to the formation of the bipartisan Coast Guard Caucus, and his advocacy and love for the service is well known among the Coast Guard leadership.

“I thank Congressman Delahunt for his many years of service.  Being a former RD3 and Vietnam War veteran, Congressman Delahunt never forgot his roots in the Coast Guard and it shows through his continued support and advocacy of Coast Guard enlisted programs,” said Master Chief Michael P. Leavitt, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard.

Joining the service was a dream come true for Delahunt after growing up in Boston and watching the Coast Guard around the harbor.

“It was an experience that really had an impact,” he said.  “For a kid from Boston it was a way to meet the rest of America, all kinds of people that were committed to the service.”

Although it had been over 30 years since he donned the uniform, his connection to the service remained with him when he became a congressman.  He was distraught after seeing how the Coast Guard was often overlooked.

“It became clear that resources were lacking,” he said.  “That is dangerous.  The Coast Guard was remarkable that it was still effective.”

He identified other Coast Guard veterans in Congress and formed the Coast Guard Caucus in 1999.  The efforts of that group have led to many improvements for the service and especially Coast Guard families, introducing legislation to improve housing, child care entitlements and many other quality-of-life issues.  Personally, he fought hard to save the Massachusetts Military Reservation, the home of Air Station Cape Cod, during the Base Realignment and Closure process and to improve facilities at all of the Coast Guard installations in his district.

Even though Delahunt has announced this will be his last term in Congress, his impact on the Coast Guard will remain as the other 95 members of his Coast Guard Caucus will continue to be stewards for the world’s finest sea-going service.

Adm. Papp reads the citation for Rep. Delahunt's Distinguished Public Service Award. Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Dan Bender.

For these and many other reasons, Adm. Bob Papp, Coast Guard commandant, presented Delahunt with a Distinguished Public Service Award during the annual Coast Guard Caucus breakfast.

“It was an honor and a privilege to bestow the Coast Guard Distinguished Public Service Award on Congressman Delahunt,” said Papp.   “He is a Coast Guard veteran, a co-founder of the Coast Guard Caucus, and for the past twelve years his staunch support and steadfast advocacy have greatly benefited our Service.”

After receiving the award Delahunt made a major announcement about his plans after he leaves Congress.

“My preference is to join the Auxiliary,” he  said.

Congressman, I’m sure they’ll have you!  Thanks for your many years of dedicated service.

Do you know a Coastie that has done something great for the service, the missions or the public? Please submit your nominations for Guardian of the Week using the submit link on the right.