The Small But Mighty Coast Guard

The Small But Mighty Coast Guard

Caroline Cooper, Writer and editor

The U.S Coast Guard is the smallest military branch in America, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. They help us in many ways that most people either overlook or just don’t know about. One of the biggest ways the Coast Guard helps is during storms where they rescue and save as many people as possible. They also save people when something goes wrong while out at sea. Their most important mission is Homeland defense though. 


My dad has been serving in the Coast Guard, as a pilot, for 27 years and we have moved 9 times during his career. Throughout his amazing journey, he has done many brave things and saved hundreds of people. During Hurricane Katrina in 2005, over a ten-day period, my dad and fellow crew members, operating from Air Station New Orleans, saved over 7,000 lives. This nearly tripled the number of lives saved in the previous 40-year history of the unit. As a direct result of his brave actions, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and a coveted spot in the Hall of Heroes at the United States Coast Guard Academy. His most prized award is me though, (Ha, Ha).


The Coast Guard has 3 main jobs that you can choose from. The first one is to work on a boat and be a ship driver. Whether it’s on a big or small boat, people will learn how to operate it and what to do if something happens. The second job is a maritime inspector, where they inspect container ships and oversee the aids to navigation. The final, and I believe the best job is in aviation. The Coast Guard has a fleet of helicopters and fixed-wing planes that are used in a variety of missions.  Here at Air Station San Francisco, they guard the coast from Los Angeles all the way to the northernmost tip of the Bay area. 


While the Coast Guard has a lot of missions, one of their most unknown is the outreach programs they provide to the communities they serve. They have partnered with local schools to offer tutoring in reading for students in need. One of my best memories is when my dad and his crew landed the helicopter at my elementary school. It was a huge success and the teachers, students, and parents all loved it. My mom says that my dad was like the Grinch that day, only instead of his heart growing three sizes, it was his head that got huge from all the praise.