The Long Blue Line: A brief history of women’s service in the Coast Guard

Over the course of its nearly 230-year history, women have played a major role in the United States Coast Guard and its predecessor services. Coast Guard women have helped shape the service and pioneered the role of their gender in the federal government and the nation as a whole.

Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: SPAR and Auxiliarist Dorothy Kurtz

The Coast Guard remembers and honors the memory and legacy of one of our trailblazers – Coast Guard SPAR and Auxiliarist Dorothy Kurtz. After serving her country during WWII, Kurtz decided to continue her service to her nation as a volunteer in the Coast Guard Auxiliary. She passed away Sept. 12, 2016, at the age of 93. Fair winds and following seas, shipmate.


For the love of her country

In the early 1940s women were just beginning to work outside the home and the idea of women serving in the military was still seen as taboo for many people. Vivian McRae didn’t care what anyone else thought; she wanted to serve her country. On her 20th birthday in 1943, McRae headed to a recruiting office in Seattle and joined the Coast Guard’s first women’s reserve known as the SPARs – an acronym derived from the Coast Guard’s motto of Semper Paratus and its translation of Always Ready.

Doritha Dogulas

Shipmate of the Week – Lt. j.g. Doritha Douglas

On this day in 1942, legislation approved the Coast Guard Women’s Reserve to help fill jobs and free men to serve during the war effort. Women from all over the country took the oath, attended training, wore the uniform and served in shoreside positions throughout the nation. They were known as the SPARs – Semper Paratus, Always Ready! On Nov. 9, former SPAR and Coast Guard veteran Lt. j.g. Doritha Douglas was interviewed about her decision to join the SPARs and the experiences she had. Douglas is one of the oldest surviving members of the SPARs.

Elfie Larkin as a World War II Coast Guard SPAR.

Remembering Elfie Larkin

The Coast Guard was saddened by the recent passing of a shipmate who was a true pioneer: Elfie Larkin, a former Coast Guard SPAR and World War II veteran. She was 100. At a time when the U.S. needed “all hands on deck,” Elfie answered the call like so many other American women and enlisted as a SPAR in 1943.

Shipmate of the Week – Elfie Larkin

UPDATE: The spelling of Vice Adm. Jody Breckenridge’s name was corrected in paragraph eight. Written by Chief Petty Officer Sarah Foster, 11th Coast Guard District. At the Oakland Zoo, where Elfie Larkin volunteered as a docent for more than 32 […]

Making waves: CAPT Eleanor L’Ecuyer

On this important date for women in the military – the anniversary of the SPARs – the Coast Guard celebrates all of these trailblazing women by highlighting the noteworthy efforts of Capt. Eleanor C. L’Ecuyer. Written by Petty Officer 1st […]


Women’s Equality Day 2011

The following blog was posted by Cmdr. Glynn Smith on behalf of Vice Adm. Sally Brice-O’Hara. Earlier this week, our Nation celebrated Women’s Equality Day, commemorating the adoption of the 19th Amendment, which recognized women’s right to vote. The observance […]

Senior Chief Sparks

Women’s Leadership Symposium: Inspired by the past, focused on the future

At the 2011 Women’s Leadership Symposium, the largest gathering of military women in the country, tales of the historic achievements of service women are the norm which makes this event the perfect opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of two of today’s Coast Guard women and the impact their leadership and mentorship has had on those who have had the privilege of serving with them.

Coast Guard Reserves

U.S. Coast Guard Reserve celebrates 70 years

Written by Chief Robert K. Lanier, Asst. Public Affairs Officer, 13th Coast Guard District The U.S. Coast Guard Reserve celebrate their 70th anniversary today. To the public, the Coast Guard is a seagoing service whether wearing their operational dress uniforms […]

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