“You be the curator” top five results!

The Curator Series is designed to showcase the U.S. Coast Guard Heritage Asset Collection; why is there such a program, what do curators do, and what types of amazing things are in their collections?

Written by Jen Gaudio
Coast Guard Museum Curator

A while back, the Coast Guard Museum asked the Coast Guard for help. As historians we look back at the past so often we often lose sight of what is happening now. As historians for the Coast Guard we need to look in all directions because things happen really quickly for the service and if we’re not prepared we might lose out on an important object which could tell a vital story.

So we thought we’d ask for help from the fleet. What do you think is important to document as a Heritage Asset? We received six great suggestions (one has two parts), so much so that we decided to make all of them a part of the Heritage Asset Collections. They are:

1. Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON) Jacksonville
(submitted by Petty Officer 1st Class Sam Allen)

ROBAR RC .50 Caliber Precision Rifle. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

ROBAR RC .50 Caliber Precision Rifle. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

This model of .50 caliber precision rifle was used at HITRON Jacksonville between July 2000 and August 2007. These rifles were responsible for 118 Airborne Use of Force Counter Drug interdictions, resulting in over $8.5 billion of contraband seized.

This engine cowling represents a successful counter narcotics mission from Feb. 27, 2017. That night, CGNR 6604 intercepted and disabled three vessels, two of which were carrying fuel to support the long-range voyage of the third vessel, which was laden with 750 kilos of cocaine. Nine narcotics traffickers were taken into custody as a result.

The Coast Guard’s Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron, or HITRON, launch to intercept and, if necessary, disable boats laden with drugs bound for the United States. To accomplish this task a select few enlisted aviators are chosen for training as precision marksmen. When narcotic trafficking vessels fail to obey an order to halt, the precision marksman disables the vessel’s engines using the M-107 .50 caliber rifle. In the first 19 years of HITRON, the unit recorded 518 busts at sea, accounting for $17.33 billion dollars in street value of drugs and the arrests of 1,666 suspected narcotics traffickers.

2. Senior Chief Petty Officer Joseph D’Amelio (boatswain’s mate)

This envelope was printed especially for the commissioning of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Petrel. From the stamp, we can determine the ceremony took place in Key West, Florida, in July 1983. This is a franked envelope from the Petrel’s commissioning in 1983. The Petrel was an 87-foot Marine Protector Class patrol boat. The Marine Protector class was built to replace the 82-foot Point Class patrol boats. Its missions included combating drug smuggling, illegal immigration, marine fisheries enforcement and search-and-rescue support.

3. Petty Officer 2nd Class David Hendrick, retired (electrician’s mate)

Jumper, ca. 1960s

Jumper, ca. 1960s

David Hendrick joined the Coast Guard on Sept. 20, 1960, and graduated on Dec. 16, 1960, from the U. S. Coast Guard Receiving Center, Alameda, California. After graduation, Hendrick transferred to Coast Guard Class “A” School in Groton, Connecticut, to attend the 30-week Electronics Technician School and graduated as a third class petty officer, or ET3.

Hendrick’s first duty station was on Terminal Island, San Pedro, California. His next duty station was aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Courier (WAGR-40) near the Greek Island of Rhodes. Here he helped run the day-to-day operations of the Voice of America Transmitter Ship. The cutter transmitted programming behind the Iron Curtain in 10 different languages, 10 hours a day, and seven days a week. After a year he was promoted to second class petty officer. As a second class petty officer, Hendrick gained responsibility observing and listening to three transmitters during the watch. The Courier served on station for 12 years beginning in 1952 and ended in 1964.

4. Capt. Peter D. Killmer, retired

Gallatin, Irving Peter Killmer, 1993

Gallatin, Irving Peter Killmer, 1993.

Killmers’ father painted this picture of his son’s ship. Killmer describes it in his own words, “My father felt the need to paint this picture… in memory of my service in the Persian Gulf during the Gulf War (1990-1991). I did not know it at the time, but he was scared to death, here at home, that he would lose me over there. His joy upon my return was uncontained and quite shocking to me. He was a tough ‘U.S. Marine’ Korean War veteran who passed in 2013! At any rate, the painting serves as his view of my service. I was a lost soul, circa 1976, dropping out of college with an unknown future. I enlisted in early 1977 to find a new way of life (that surprised him). The Coast Guard literally saved my life and provided a great career. My family often tells me how proud my Dad was of my service! The theme (to him) of the ship leaving my hometown is: ‘It was my son’s first unit and introduction into the Coast Guard, sailed him to many ports of the world (factually and figuratively), and took him to manhood.’ To me, the painting is more a symbol for ‘all parents who have kids trying to find the right thing’ and how proud they are of all of us regardless of avocation! I really do miss my dad! This submission is my tribute to him.”

5. Patrol Forces Southwest Asian (PATFORSWA)

“With the tragic events that took place on 9-11 the Coast Guard was tasked with a new mission. The Coast Guard would send a small squadron overseas in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, later named Patrol Forces Southwest Asia (PATFORSWA). On April 24, 2004, in support of this operation, Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Bruckenthal was killed in action when a suicide bomber onboard a dhow set off an explosion as he and the rest of the boarding team pulled alongside. Currently comprised of six Island Class 110-foot patrol boats, an Advanced Interdiction Team (AIT), Maritime Engagement Team (MET), one forward operating base in Kuwait and over 200 support personnel, PATFORSWA serves in support of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) national security objectives, under title 10 authority.

These barricades were painted during deployed Coast Guardsmens’ off hours while deployed to Camp Patriot, Kuwait Naval Base (KNB). They represent changes experienced by the United States Coast Guard in the post 9-11 world, and indicative of the Coast Guards 21st century role in national security. Few things will be as familiar to those of all services who served overseas and as symbolic of our nation’s engagement in the Middle East as the ubiquitous ‘T-Walls’ erected around countless ECPs, FOBs, and bases. The barricades will be a reminder of personnel who have served here and one who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country.”

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