Locals wave for help in the central highlands of Puerto Rico. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Long Blue Line: “Semper Paratus”—Coast Guard men and women in Hurricane Maria

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliarist J. Edwin Nieves compiled oral histories from Coast Guard members who responded in the wake of Hurricane Maria in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Every one of these recorded oral histories proved compelling and revealed the commitment to service, devotion to duty and willingness to make sacrifices that characterizes the Coast Guard and the Coast Guard community. Each of the interviewees made sacrifices for others and endured personal privations.


Danny Hahn mans the Central Tool Room at the Coast Guard Yard in Curtis Bay, Md. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Long Blue Line: Danny Hahn

Daniel “Danny” Hahn came from a family long associated with the Coast Guard Yard in Curtis Bay, Maryland. He served 50 years continuously at the Yard and set the record as the longest-serving wage grade civilian in Coast Guard history. He died in 2017 but will always be remembered as a hard-working Coast Guard civilian who served with distinction as a member of the long blue line.


Photograph of the 165-foot cutter Icarus. (U.S. Coast Guard)

The Long Blue Line: Icarus – WWII combat cutter, OPC namesake

In 1942, the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Icarus, commanded by Lt. Maurice Jester, sank German U-352 off the coast of North Carolina. Shortly after sinking, the Coast Guard crew rescued 33 survivors of the 48-man crew – they were the first enemy combatants captured by U.S. forces in World War II. The cutter was decommissioned in 1948 but will soon live on as the namesake of the sixth in the first flight of Offshore Patrol Cutters in the “Heritage”-class.


Cutter Argo (WPC-100) on patrol. Originally designed for Prohibition law enforcement, this type of cutter was particularly seaworthy and maneuverable. With the U.S. entry into World War II, Argo was attached to the Atlantic Fleet as a convoy escort vessel. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Long Blue Line: A wartime rescue by Cutter Argo 75 years ago

It’s been 75 years since the wartime search and rescue efforts of the cutter Argo but it will forever remain a chapter in the saga of the long blue line. Cutters Argo and Thetis were part of a convoy off Cape May, New Jersey, when American tanker Camas Meadows steamed unescorted by an inexperienced crew, fatally rammed a Navy patrol gunboat. Argo’s officer of the day activated a search and rescue operation and rescued 23 survivors – 106 crew members of the Navy gunboat were lost.


Photo of the Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse, also known as Two Lights, near Portland, Maine. (Wikipedia)

The Long Blue Line: Hanna – the service’s forgotten Medal of Honor hero

Many with knowledge of service history believe Guadalcanal hero Douglas Munro was the Coast Guard’s first and only recipient of the Medal of Honor. Technically, they would be wrong. In fact, Lighthouse Keeper Marcus Aurelius Hanna also received the Medal of Honor, the U.S. military’s highest recognition for combat heroism.


Picture of the medium endurance cutter Diligence VI landing an HH-52 helicopter in the late-20th century. (U.S. Coast Guard)

The Long Blue Line: Diligence – historic cutter, OPC namesake

Coast Guard Cutter Diligence, also known as “Dillie Devils,” “Dili-O” and “The Dog,” has served this nation since its commissioning in 1964. This is the sixth vessel in service history to bear the unique distinction of “Diligence” and not the last. The Coast Guard will soon build the “Heritage”-Class of 360-foot Offshore Patrol Cutters with Diligence as the 10th in the first flight of OPCs.


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 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.


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