The history of the U.S. Coast Guard and its predecessor agencies dates from 1790, with missions in both domestic and international waters. The service has provided aids to navigation, enforcement of maritime laws, environmental protection, search and rescue, immigration and narcotics interdiction, maritime safety assistance, port security, natural disaster response and national defense missions, including overseas with other U.S. armed forces and federal and state public safety agencies.
The Service has operated under the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Transportation and, since 2003, the Department of Homeland Security. Its maritime mission regions have included Arctic and Antarctic waters, inland and coastal U.S. waterways and the seas and oceans of the world. This history describes how the Coast Guard has manifested its legacy and motto, Semper Paratus (Always Ready), in changing conditions under each of its leaders.
Since its founding more than two hundred years ago, the United States Coast Guard has rescued over a million people. On any given day, "Coasties" respond to 125 distress calls and save over a dozen lives. Yet despite having more than 50,000 active-duty and reserve members on every ocean and on our nation's coasts, great lakes, and rivers, most of us know very little about this often neglected but crucial branch of the military.
In Rescue Warriors, award-winning journalist David Helvarg brings us into the daily lives of Coasties, filled with a salty maritime mix of altruism and adrenaline, as well as dozens of death-defying rescues at sea and on hurricane-ravaged shores.
Helvarg spent two years with the men and women of the Coast Guard, from the halls of their academy in New London, Connecticut, to the frigid, storm-tossed waters of Alaska's Bering Sea, to the northern Persian Gulf, where they currently guard Iraqi oil terminals. The result is a masterpiece of adventure reporting---the definitive book on America's "forgotten heroes."
Alaska represents twenty percent of the land area, twenty percent of the oil production, forty percent of the fresh water of the United States, but after Wyoming, it's the least populated state.
Despite that contradiction, the state has an abundance of natural resources, history, and adventure-especially for the members of the Coast Guard that oversee its massive coastline.
Captain Jeffrey Hartman served four tours of duty in Alaska with the Coast Guard. He outlines the history of Alaska and its culture and describes his experiences overseeing a number of rescue missions there. Hartman illustrates with personal experience the challenges and dangers the Service faces in carrying out its missions protecting the Alaska people, environment and maritime infrastructure. He flew helicopters from Coast Guard icebreakers, on rescue and law enforcement missions and managed the search and rescue program on Alaska's waters.
"Guarding Alaska" explains the many important functions that the Coast Guard serves and also examines how it's changed in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks. You'll feel like you're in the middle of the action as you gain a deeper appreciation for the state and the people who protect it.
This thorough history details those and other important missions, which included combat engagement with submarines and kamikaze planes, and typhoons. On the home front, port security missions involving search and rescue, fire fighting, explosives, espionage and sabotage presented their own unique dangers and challenges.