Coast Guard Reserve – Nearly Eight Decades of Supporting Domestic Emergencies and Foreign Operations

On Wednesday, February 19, the United States Coast Guard Reserve will celebrate 79 years of service, from deploying nationally for law enforcement, hurricanes, and oil spills, while internationally providing port security in the Middle East. Like active duty, reservists’ missions vary by season and location.

A Port Security boat performs security drills near Oxnard, CA. Photo by Matthew Masaschi, U.S. Coast Guard.

Established by the Coast Guard Auxiliary and Reserve Act of February 19, 1941, the “new” reserves were modeled after the U.S. Navy Reserve, serving in two capacities: the Regular Reservists and Temporary Reservists. Regular Reservists supported the efforts of World War II while the Temporary Reservists maintained operations for domestic units. After the war ended, the Coast Guard released its reservists and didn’t form an official reserve unit until 1950 in Boston.

What people may not know about the Coast Guard Reserve is their numbers. With nearly 7,000 service members, the component remains the smallest reserve force within the smallest military branch, covering an extremely wide area of responsibility. However, this does not reflect a lack of capability or over-stretch in coverage.

A Coast Guard response boat crew witnesses the 9/11 terrorist attack in Manhattan. Photo by Tom Sperduto, U.S. Coast Guard.

“Our talent pool includes the best our Nation has to offer,” said Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Reserve George Williamson. “We are an inspired, dedicated, and driven workforce that has volunteered to serve. We are high performers both in and out of the Coast Guard.”

Over the years, a large number of reservists have been activated to respond to national emergencies, including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, oil spills from the Cosco Busan, Deepwater Horizon, and a multitude of hurricane disasters.

A Coast Guard service member celebrates his promotion to Chief (E-7) with his family. Photo courtesy U.S. Coast Guard.

“Our people are our greatest resource,” said Williamson. “In my more than 30 years of service as a Coast Guardsman, I have never been prouder to be a part of this organization. From the life-saving and operational missions we are part of every day, to the dedicated members who are achieving mission success, I cannot emphasize enough how proud I am to count myself among the ranks of this elite force. It is my greatest honor to serve alongside these extraordinary members who embody the core values of Honor, Respect, and Devotion to Duty.”

As the Coast Guard enters a new decade, the men and women of the reserve force continue to uphold the motto of the branch, “Always Ready”, or more commonly used, “Semper Paratus”.

To learn more about the Coast Guard Reserve, its missions, and achievements, visit

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