Speaking of the Coast Guard

That last post reminded me of the movie The Guardian, or Top Gun for the Coast Guard.  Not great, but not terrible.  There is one line in the movie that cracks me up, because it reminds me so much of something that would been said at the Academy.  When addressing a new class of potential ASTs (rescue swimmers), the commanding officer says the following:

When storms shut down the entire force, we go out. When hurricanes ground the United States Navy, we go out. And when the Holy Lord himself reaches down from heaven and destroys His good work with winds that rip houses off the ground, we go out.

It’s meant to be over the top and cheesy, and it succeeds marvelously at that aim.  On the flip side, it’s also completely true.  To this day, I get pissed off at people who complain that the federal government “didn’t react quick enough” after Hurrican Katrina, because as I point out – the Coast Guard never stopped flying.  Once, when I pointed that out to a stupid person, their response was “well the Coast Guard isn’t really the government” at which juncture I just had to walk away.


  1. Not to piss you off, but I actually kind of agree with the guy that said “the Coast Guard isn’t really the government.” Although, not in the way you think. I worked in Merchant Marine, and my uncle was a cutter captain in the CG. The government is fully of weaselly chickenshit bureaucrats. And while I fully support the Navy, there is a reason for the idea that maybe the Navy’s changed a little from “the days of iron men and wooden ships” to “wooden men and iron ships.” I don’t entirely subscribe to that idea, because it’s usually actually some d-bag bureaucrat with some rule preventing some REAL Navy dude from doing the Right Thing(tm).

    But the reason I kind of agree with that person is that if anyone has it, the CG still seems full of Iron Men (and Women) when it comes to the sea. The best navigators, handlers, pilots, and seamen are still from the CG. And they’ve somehow managed to keep the worse parts of the world’s largest bureaucracy off them, and do the Right Thing. I know they have plenty of painful bureaucracy, but the fact that they “still go out” says something. In a nutshell, how can they be so good and STILL be part of our government.

    OK, that’s a little tongue in cheek.

  2. Sorta funny story by the way. Back in the 90’s, I was part of a crew activating/trialing three US Navy Ready Reserve Force tankers. We had to remove one of the EPIRBs and we threw it in a garbage can without removing the battery backup. Someone then put something somewhat liquid in that can. I was sitting in a shipyard office when I got a call from the CG asking if a US Navy ship was really in distress. I looked out of the office window and all three ships were nice and snug up. CG wasn’t too pleased with us that day.

  3. If I had a dime for every time I said “EPIRBs save lives” while giving tours of USCGC Diligence, I’d have retired years ago.

  4. Coasties always get respect from me.

    They’ve pulled folks out of the water, in Alaska, that I know personally, after their boat went down.

    They still take to heart the unofficial motto of the United States Lifesaving Service: You have to go out, you don’t have to come back.

    And they get so little recognition for it.

  5. Caleb,

    You live in Wilmington?

    My family all lives there. My mom’s house is on S. Second Street. Whenever I’m there I go running past the Diligence.

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