Coast Guard enlisted women aviators – “The Firsts”

The Women in Aviation International Conference is scheduled to be held this week, March 14-16, 2019, in Long Beach, California. Nine Coast Guard female aviators have been nominated to be honored at this conference. This blog highlights the enlisted women aviators who were nominated.


Fishing Vessel Dauntless is seen through the window of the Coast Guard Cutter Staten Island's deployed helicopter. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

You have to go out: The tragic death of Boatswain’s Mate Chief Elias Welch, part 2

In part two, we learn the circumstances around the death of our shipmate Boatswain’s Mate Chief Elias Welch 50 years ago in the Bering Sea. Mishaps are, by their very definition, unplanned and it is easy to sit in safety and harshly judge the actions and motivations of people who didn’t have the luxury of hindsight, especially when those actions took place 50 years ago in a different organizational culture. Welch’s death in the line of duty reminds us of the dangers of hubris, the importance of personal protective equipment, and that the Coast Guard’s modern doctrine of Operational Risk Management has evolved through decades of tragic incidents and sacrifice.


Coast Guard officer women aviators – “The Firsts”

The Women in Aviation International Conference is scheduled to be held this week, March 14-16, 2019, in Long Beach, California. Nine Coast Guard female aviators have been nominated to be honored at this conference. This first blog highlights officer women aviators. Check back tomorrow to learn more about the enlisted aviators who have also been nominated.


You have to go out: The tragic death of Boatswain’s Mate Chief Elias Welch, part 1

Fifty years ago this March, Boatswain’s Mate Chief Elias Welch died off of Akutan Island, Alaska, when his cutter’s boat capsized during an attempt to assist a grounded fishing vessel. The tragic story of his death, unknown except to his shipmates, deserves to be remembered, both as a tribute to his service and as a study in operational risk management and leadership.


Painting of the SS Wellington with Seneca in the background. This response effort is the most honored combat-related rescue in service history. (Coast Guard Collection)

The Long Blue Line: Coxswain James C. Osborn – flawed hero during World War I

He wasn’t perfect but no one can dispute he served as a hero in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War I. James Clarence Osborn served aboard Coast Guard Cutter Seneca where he risked life and limb saving his shipmates while escorting a torpedoed British steamship to the port of Brest, France. He was awarded the Navy Cross Medal and Gold Lifesaving Medal for his bravery but fell into trouble with authorities later in life. Regardless of his troubles, his heroism should not be forgotten.


The Long Blue Line: Lt. Cmdr. Frank Erickson – Coast Guard pioneer of helicopter flight

After witnessing the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbo in 1941, Lt. Cmdr. Frank Erickson became convinced helicopters would greatly improve search and rescue capabilities. He might have been described as a zealot but eventually convinced then-Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Russell Waesche to take a chance on using the helicopter as a search and rescue platform. Erickson created a helicopter training program and was the first to conduct a rescue by helicopter in 1943.


The Long Blue Line: Coast Guard “River Cutter” pioneered desegregation 100 years ago

Nearly 100 years ago in the Deep South, in an area that held the nation’s worst records of discrimination and violence toward blacks, the Great 1913 Flood killed between 600-900 people and left 250,000 Americans homeless. Ironically, the Coast Guard made history by enlisting an all-black crew aboard river cutter Yocona, not to set records but because they were the best-qualificed watermen near Yocona’s homeport of Vicksburg, Mississippi, rescuing and transporting disaster victims from the Great 1913 Flood. Yocona proved to be the first federal vessel in peacetime manned by a racially integrated crew and set a precedent to desegregate the nation’s sea service vessels.


The shipwreck that changed the Coast Guard forever

Throughout Coast Guard history, the missions of the service have been written in blood. Such was the case with the loss of the 605-foot cargo ship Marine Electric. Marine Electric had passed several marine inspections, including those done by the U.S. Coast Guard, with several discrepancies not noted or recommended. In heavy weather, the ship couldn’t hold up to the crashing waves, flooded and capsized killing 31 of 34 crewmen in the cold Atlantic waters on Feb. 12, 1983. This fatal shipwreck resulted in a revamp of the Coast Guard’s marine safety procedures and establishment of the rescue swimmer program.


The Long Blue Line: Gun captain and African-American war hero Louis Etheridge

During an escort of Convoy ON-166 from Ireland to the U.S., Chief Steward Louis Etheridge, aboard Coast Guard Cutter Campbell, commanded an 11-man African-American gun crew of stewards, mess attendants and steward mates. On Feb. 22, 1944, Campbell faced-off against German submarine U-606 in which Etheridge and his gun crew decimated the sub’s crew and rendered the U-boat defenseless. Etheridge earned the Bronze Star, the first military medal bestowed on an African-American Coast Guardsman for combat heroism.


(Left to right): Richard Etheridge, Rasmus Midgett and John Allen Midgett's busts stand on the background of North Carolina's Outer Banks. Nicknamed the Graveyard of the Atlantic, these waters have been home to shipwrecks and to rescues performed by members of the Life Saving Service and U.S. Coast Guard. U.S. Coast Guard illustration by Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua Canup.

Standing the watch over the Graveyard of the Atlantic

For hundreds of years, mariners have nicknamed North Carolina’s Outer Banks the “Graveyard of the Atlantic” based on the history of ships lost in its waters. Even for experienced Coast Guard members, traversing the area can prove a difficult task. However, Coast Guard men and women stand the watch, just as the crews before them did.


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