We talk a lot about our armed services here on FighterSweep, and we would be remiss if we didn’t highlight our brothers and sisters serving in the United States Coast Guard. The Coast Guard was officially formed on 28 January 1915 with the merging of the long-existent Cutter Revenue Service and the US Life-Saving Service.

The Coast Guard was initially formed under the Department of the Treasury, but currently serves under the Department of Homeland Security, tasked primarily with maritime law enforcement and search-and-rescue (SAR). The nearly 42,000 men and women of the USCG responded to 20,510 calls in 2012. That amounts to over 56 operations per day!

The Coast Guard is distinctive among the branches of the armed forces as it is typically for homeland defense, but can be pressed into action under the Department of the Navy during conflict or at the discretion of the President. As a result, the USCG has been involved in every conflict since its inception – largely without fanfare.

An HC-130 from Sacramento taking part in the 2011 Centennial of Naval Aviation celebrations at NAS North Island © Jonathan Derden

In addition to operating what amounts to the world’s 12th largest navy, the USCG maintains a sizable fleet of over 200 aircraft that are ideally configured for SAR and interdiction missions. Almost half of the fleet is made up of the HH-65 Dolphin helicopter, but the USCG also relies on larger fixed-wing types, such as the HC-130 Hercules, for taskings requiring longer range and endurance.

The link between the USCG and the Navy is a strong one, as all Coast Guard pilots have earned their wings of gold as Naval aviators. A few years back while celebrating their 100th anniversary of USN aviation, the Navy paid homage to the Coast Guard with a celebratory paint scheme on a T-34 Turbo Mentor training aircraft.

A T-34C Turbo Mentor from Naval Training Wing 5 painted in a special USCG scheme
A T-34C Turbo Mentor from Naval Training Wing 5 painted in a special USCG scheme © Jonathan Derden

So while the Coast Guard is often overlooked and certainly misunderstood, it serves in a pivotal role is safeguarding the 95,471 miles of coastline in the United States and saving thousands of lives, as well as intercepting hundreds of tons of weaponry, drugs, and other contraband intended for our mainland.

Semper Paratus.