U.S. Coast Guard’s 225th anniversary saluted with a special stamp

August 19th, 2015

FindYourStampsValue.com is glad to inform that the U.S. Postal Service commemorated the U.S. Coast Guard’s 225th anniversary with a special stamp. The new Forever stamp features two icons of the Coast Guard: the Barque Eagle, a three-masted sailing ship known as "America's Tall Ship", and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter, the standard rescue aircraft of the Coast Guard. It was issued and put into circulation on the 4th of August.

During an average day, Coast Guard personnel assist more than 300 people in distress, save more than $2 million in property, board 90 large vessels for port safety checks, conduct 120 law enforcement boardings, and investigate more than a dozen marine accidents.

The Coast Guard today has more than 49,000 active-duty men and women; 7,300 reservists; 8,300 civilian employees and 30,000 volunteer auxiliary personnel. In addition to saving lives at sea, members of the Coast Guard enforce maritime law, oversee aids to navigation, conduct icebreaking operations, protect the marine environment, respond to oil spills and water pollution, ensure port security, support scientific research at sea, combat terrorism and aid in the nation's defense.

U.S. Coast Guard history

The U.S. Coast Guard traces its history to a law enacted in August 1790 by President Washington. The law provided for a fleet of 10 vessels, or "revenue cutters", to aid in collecting duties on goods imported into the United States. This fleet guarded the Atlantic coast and thwarted smugglers and pirates trying to evade tariffs. It was the genesis of what became the Revenue Cutter Service, forerunner of today's Coast Guard.

The U.S. Coast Guard received its current name in 1915, under President Wilson. The Revenue Cutter Service and the Life-Saving Service, which had been established as a separate agency in 1878, were combined into one organization. The 1915 legislation also made explicit that the Coast Guard was "a part of the military forces of the United States" and would "operate as a part of the Navy… in time of war or when the President shall so direct".

Nation's lifeguard

The search-and-rescue mission of the Coast Guard is perhaps the mission most familiar to the public today. The helicopter became a valuable aid in the cause soon after its introduction in the 1940s. In 1955, Coast Guard helicopters rescued scores of Connecticut residents from floodwaters caused by two late-summer hurricanes, and on Christmas Eve of that year a single helicopter rescued 138 victims of a massive flood in northern California. Not long after these dramatic incidents, helicopters joined cutters as icons of the Coast Guard.

Hurricane Katrina

One of the largest response-and-rescue efforts in the history of the Coast Guard took place in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina slammed the Gulf Coast. As the city of New Orleans was deluged by 20-foot high floodwaters, tens of thousands of residents were left clinging to rooftops or huddling in attics. Some 5,000 personnel rushed to the scene, and a large percentage of the Coast Guard helicopter fleet deployed.

The effort was complicated by the challenges of urban search and rescue, including downed wires that posed a hazard to helicopter rotor blades. Some rescue swimmers had to borrow fire axes to cut through rooftops to reach people trapped in their attics. At one point, Coast Guard personnel were rescuing 750 people an hour by boat and 100 people an hour by air. The final tally of persons rescued and evacuated from rooftops, flooded homes, and stricken hospitals exceeded 33,000.

The Coast Guard's incredible response to Katrina was a testament to its culture of service and exemplified its longtime motto, "Semper Paratus ‒ Always Ready".