Coast Guard Lt. Ronaqua Russell flies an Air Station Corpus Christi HC-144 in support of Hurricane Maria response efforts in October 2018. Photo courtesy of Lt. Ronaqua Russell.

Making history in the sky

Lt. Ronaqua Russell recently became the first African-American female aviator in the Coast Guard receive the Air Medal in honor of her heroic actions in response to Hurricane Harvey, one of the most destructive storms in U.S. history. She was honored in a ceremony at Tuskegee’s Moton Field where, 77 years ago, the first African-American aviators in the U.S. Armed Services broke down racial barriers to earn their wings, and later go on to fly several heroic and critical combat missions in World War II.


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 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.


General messages weekly roundup

All Hands selects several messages to publish in a weekly post to help raise awareness about specific messages and useful information for Coast Guard members.


Capt. Bobby Wilks was the first minority aviator in the service who later became the first minority air station commander. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Long Blue Line: African-American Coast Guard achievements and diversity highlights of the last century

While the service celebrates highlights of African-American service in the Coast Guard, it should recognize the accomplishments of hundreds of thousands of African-Americans over the course of its 228-year history. These members of the long blue line have struggled for equal rights and persevered with a dedication that has benefited all who serve in the U.S. Coast Guard.


This image shows minority Lt. j.g. Joseph Jenkins and Lt. j.g. Clarence Samuels aboard Coast Guard operated USS Sea Cloud in the North Atlantic in World War II. Coast Guard photo.

The Long Blue Line: A history of African-Americans in Coast Guard combat

African-Americans have served in every conflict fought by the Coast Guard and its predecessor services, and currently comprise the longest serving minority in the service. Today, we commemorate the achievements and sacrifices of hundreds of thousands of African-Americans over the course of the service’s 228-year history.


Week in the life of the Coast Guard 2017 – Wednesday

Take a look to see what an average Wednesday entailed during the month of February. Today we feature operations to include ice rescue and first aid training, and highlight members who embody the Coast Guard core values of honor, respect, and devotion to duty.


The Long Blue Line: Coast Guard Officers Jenkins and Russell—Trailblazers of Ethnic Diversity in the American Sea services

African-Americans have served in the United States Coast Guard throughout its nearly 230-year history, but their participation in the service has been largely overlooked. So it is only fitting that we should document some of their participation by starting with the Coast Guard Academy, which pioneered the role of African-American officers in the U.S. sea services.


The Long Blue Line: Bobby Wilks, Aviator and Minority Trailblazer

Bobby Charles Wilks, was an African-American who led the Coast Guard toward greater diversity in the post-World War II era by breaking color barriers for African-American Coast Guard officers and blazing a trail for all minorities in the service.


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.


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