August 4 the 225th birthday of the United States Coast Guard. To mark the occasion, here are 25 facts you may not know about one of the United States’ oldest organizations.
1. The Coast Guard was founded on August 4, 1790, after Congress commissioned the construction of ten ships to help enforce federal tariffs and prevent smuggling.
2. Alex Haley, who wrote the acclaimed Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “Roots,” was the Coast Guard’s first journalist.
3. The Coast Guard has two official flags: The Coast Guard standard and the Coast Guard ensign.
4. Becoming a Coast Guard rescue swimmer is extremely hard. More than half the people who try out fail.
5. Walt Disney created a special logo for the Coast Guard’s Corsair Fleet during World War II, featuring Donald Duck.
6. Members of the Coast Guard have served in 17 wars and conflicts throughout U.S. history.
7. Anthony Christy was the oldest active serving Coast Guard member. The keeper of the Christiana Lighthouse in Delaware, Christy died on duty in September 1862 at the age of 105.
8. Since 2003, the Coast Guard has been operating as part of the Department of Homeland Security.
9. In 1791, the Coast Guard launched its first cutter Vigilant.
10. The first permanent Coast Guard Air Station was in Cape May, New Jersey, in 1926.
11. In 1967, the Coast Guard adopted the trademark red slash design – or racing stripe – that appears on its vessels.
12. In 1941, the Coast Guard hired its first civilian women to serve in secretarial and clerical positions.
13. 241,093 Coast Guard members served during World War II.
14. “Semper Paratus” is the Coast Guard motto.
15. While many animals have served as mascots aboard Coast Guard vessels, Sinbad, a dog, is one of the service’s most famous. He served on board the cutter Campbell during World War II, keeping troops company during their voyages.
16. The Coast Guard was referred to as the Revenue Marine and the Revenue Cutter Service throughout the late 18th and the 19th centuries.
17. The Coast Guard has authorized a total of 43 battle streamers, which are attached to the Coast Guard standard, replacing cords and tassels. They are carried in all ceremonies representing heroic actions in all naval encounters from 1798 to today. Any Coast Guard unit may display the battle streamers.
18. The Coast Guard refers to a vessel as a “cutter” if it’s over 65-feet long.
19. From 1942-44, the Coast Guard had a championship hockey team called the Cutters that played in the Eastern Amateur Hockey League, considered to be one of the most competitive leagues of its time.
20. Until the Navy was re-established in 1797, the Coast Guard was the only naval service in the country.
21. In 1918, sisters Genevieve and Lucille Baker were the first uniformed women to serve in the Coast Guard.
22. President George Washington commissioned the first Coast Guard officer, Captain Hopley Yeaton, on March 21, 1791.
23. The oldest Coast Guard boat station is in Sandy Hook, New Jersey.
24. In 1967, the Coast Guard icebreaker Eastwind became the first cutter to ever sail around Antarctica. Eastwind was also the first ship to circumnavigate Antarctica since 1843.
25. The Coast Guard core values are honor, respect and devotion to duty.
–Information from uscg.mil and other sources.