History of the Coast Guard Reserve


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The decade got off to a hectic start for the Coast Guard and Coast Guard Reserve. On January 12, a violent earthquake devastated Port Au Prince, Haiti. Thousands of people lost their live and many more thousands were injured and left homeless. The Coast Guard was first on scene, as the Cutter FORWARD arrived later that day. In the days and weeks that followed, thousands of CG personnel supported the Haiti operation. On January 19, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano authorized the activation of 900 reservists to bolster the 500 CG personnel already in Haiti.

While operations continued in Haiti, Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster sparked the recall of more than 4,000 Coast Guard reservists. The oil spill was the largest environmental response for the Coast Guard since the EXXON VALDEZ spill in the late 1980s in Valdez, Alaska. And, like the Valdez response, reservists played a significant role in the initial response and the long term cleanup effort.

Just two years later Mother Nature would once again flex its muscle wreaking havoc of the East Coast in the form of SUPER-STORM SANDY. SANDY, euphemistically called “Frankenstorm,” made landfall on October 30, 2012, approximately five miles southwest of Atlantic City, N.J. At the time it reached land the storm’s winds extended 1,000 nautical miles from its center. At least 131 deaths were attributed to the storm. Hundreds of CG Reserve personnel would be recalled to assist with response and cleanup operations.

With an eye towards remaining ready to respond, the Coast Guard’s Pacific Area Commander utilized reservists from around the country in a mobilization exercise (MOBEX) to support the America’s Cup 34. The Cup event was held in San Francisco during the months of July and September, 2013. Reservist from every CG District converged on the Bay Area, specifically Station San Francisco on Yerba Buena Island, for two-week rotations in support of the racing events. The value of the MOBEX was best summed up by MK1 Ralph Ricapito, who was mobilized from Station Atlantic City, N.J., as a Boarding Team Member. “At MOBEX 2013, we had the opportunity to perform the mission we train to do.”

Since its establishment during World War II when ninety percent of the 214,000 Coast Guard personnel serving on active duty were reservists, the Coast Guard Reserve has been vital to the Coast Guard's ability to meet surge and contingency operations while simultaneously excelling in steady state missions. The Nation is well served by the reliable and proficient capability the Reserve component provides.

In recent times, reservists' commitment to train, augment, and attain competencies coupled with frequent mobilizations at home and abroad has afforded the Coast Guard a highly skilled and adaptable workforce. As the Nation moves forward to meet demands in the Arctic and energy sectors, and tackle emerging threats in Cyber and the Western Hemisphere, this trained Reserve force will continue to be an integral part of the success to fulfill Coast Guard missions for effective maritime governance.

As the Coast Guard Reserve passes the mid-decade point and enters its 76th year, today’s 7,000 reservists stand ready to answer the call: Whether at home or overseas, whether man-made or natural, whatever the reason, wherever the need, the Coast Guard Reserve will be there when needed most.

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Reservists return from deployment

Reservist operate security patrol in New York Harbor.