Since 1790, the brave men and women of the United States Coast Guard have been standing the watch for you. Night and day, in good weather and bad, its devoted members have been the first responders when disaster strikes at sea. For 226 years, the Coast Guard has tirelessly answered the call for our Nation, saving lives, enforcing maritime law, combating terrorism, and protecting the environment from oil spills and pollution.
As the oldest continuous seagoing service within the five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, the U.S. Coast Guard is responsible for the day-to-day protection of the United States and waterways around the globe. Some of the most impactful moments of our Nation’s history would not have been as successful were it not for the Coast Guard.
Remarkably, the Coast Guard is the only armed service branch without a national museum. When opportunities arose to receive Federal funding, this traditionally underfunded agency has consistently prioritized operations over building a museum. It will take all of our efforts to bring a museum to life.
We will add a National Coast Guard Museum to our Nation’s most sacred military heritage sites. The first of its kind museum will give the U.S. Coast Guard the venue it deserves to showcase its rich and important history, while educating current and future generations about the value of this military branch. The museum will provide the Coast Guard with a national platform to share its crucial role in saving and protecting lives and commerce along America’s waterways.
The National Coast Guard Museum will be constructed on the historic waterfront of downtown New London, Connecticut. The Coast Guard has celebrated a presence in New London since 1791 and will incorporate the nearby Coast Guard Academy and USCG Research and Development Center in the Museum;s story. Additionally,: America’s Tall Ship”, the Coast Guard Barque EAGLE will adorn the waterfront while home ported at the New London City Pier adjacent to the Museum.
Once built, museum patrons will have a place to witness the founding of the U.S. Coast Guard, participate in some of the service’s most dramatic rescues, explore longtime industry and civic partnerships, and see firsthand what it is to be Semper Paratus: Always Ready.
The museum will provide an immersive educational experience for visitors of all ages. In particular, the museum’s STEM Learning Center will be a physical hub inside the museum with a global reach via its on-site, outreach, and virtual programs, that will engage and support today’s youth inspiring them to become tomorrow’s critical thinkers, problem solvers, and innovators. We envision the STEM Learning Center’s programs will complement school curriculum to inspire student’s early interest in STEM fields and will provide support in cultivating that interest as teenagers. Additionally, displays will connect museum patrons with real-time missions via streaming video. This virtual element will allow visitors to see servicemen and women conduct marine environmental inspections in Long Beach, California, rescue missions off the coast of New England, drug interventions along the Gulf Coast, and tug boat regulations on the Mississippi River. Interactive exhibits will engage the public in science and engineering challenges, using principles of aeronautics, propulsion, informatics, meteorology, navigation, and other Coast Guard-related sciences.
Under the direction of a distinguished Board of Directors and Honorary Board, the National Coast Guard Museum Association, Inc. launched a national fundraising campaign in June 2013 to build this museum. With a ceremonial groundbreaking in May 2014, the effort got underway with noteworthy gifts from J.D. Power III, founder of J.D. Power & Associates and Coast Guard veteran; Boysie Bollinger, founder of Bollinger Shipyards; and support from major American Waterway Operator companies. Augmented by a commitment of $20 million in funding from the State of Connecticut and recent changes in our Federal Authorization, we have embarked on a $100 million capital campaign as the project moves from the design to construction phase. We are taking great strides to generate the capital necessary to design and build a museum worthy of our Coast Guard and your philanthropy. Discover more by visiting us at www.CoastGuardMuseum.org
CWO4 Robert R Wilson
U.S. Coast Guard (Ret)
(Veterans – record your own Military Service Story atwww.togetherweserved.com at no charge)
PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE COAST GUARD?
I originally was trying to enlist in the Air Force. However, I knew that my draft was getting rather close and saw the sign for US Coast Guard Recruiting in the hall. I sat down and talked with the OIC of the office and was enlisted two weeks later.
The recruiter told me that I would not have to take a bus to Alameda for boot camp. He had sailed near the Cutter Eagle and never had a chance to go aboard. He said the ship was coming into San Francisco on my enlistment day and he was going to drive me down. When we arrived the ship was just coming into the bay. We watched as she moored and he knew a couple of Chiefs on board. We got invited to the Chiefs Mess for lunch. Damn, I thought, this outfit was great. Steak and baked potatoes and all the fixin’s and to boot, being served by the Cadets. And finally being called Sir. Had a great tour of the ship.
That afternoon, the Master Chief drove me to Alameda to get checked in. He told the JOOD to make sure and take care of me. I was being escorted to the forming barracks by a 2nd Class Petty Officer (can’t remember his rating), and as we were walking, just chatting along. Then all of a sudden, the PO grabbed me by my collar and told me very bluntly, “From now on the word SIR will be the first and last word, do I make myself understood.” I replied, “SIR YES SIR!!”
WHETHER YOU WERE IN THE SERVICE FOR SEVERAL YEARS OR AS A CAREER, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE DIRECTION OR PATH YOU TOOK. WHAT WAS YOUR REASON FOR LEAVING?
After I had been to Vietnam in 1968, I decided to stay for a career. Since I had done a lot of mechanical work prior to my graduation from HS, I had made up my mind that I was going to be an Engineman (EN).
While assigned to HQ I was promoted to MKC, Sep 1974. Then due to my assignment in Washington DC and had some good references, I decided to attempt to go into the Warrant Officer group. I was lucky and made CWO2(ENG) within 12 years.
I tried to get assigned to a ship and had orders to a 378 in Hawaii. The District Commander did not like a boot Warrant without any sea duty (or as little as I had) to be assigned to a cutter in his district. I finally ended up at Group Shinnecock, NY as GRUEO. Got reassigned to HQ in Jun 1981 and finally ended up as a GRUEO in Mayport FL.
I retired in Sep 1989.
IF YOU PARTICIPATED IN COMBAT, PEACEKEEPING OR HUMANITARIAN OPERATIONS, PLEASE DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH WERE THE MOST SIGNIFICANT TO YOU AND, IF LIFE-CHANGING, IN WHAT WAY.
As stated previously I was stationed on board the USCGC Point Grace (WPB82323) Mar 18, 1968. I remained aboard for my entire tour and the Division Commander approved an early rotation stateside Feb 18, 1969.
We were in combat an average of at least once a month and participated in the largest Naval action on a direct target when the CGC Bibb (WHEC31), CGC Point Cypress (WPB82327), 8 Navy PCF’s, 4 Navy LCVP’s, the USS Washoe County (LSMR1165) and all the SEALs in Vietnam attacked Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army entrenchments along both side of the Song Bo De in IV Corps Area. This river had a reputation for not allowing friendly vessels to infiltrate without causing serious casualties. The river banks were covered with steel reinforced bunkers built by the Japanese during WWII. The SEALs duty was to infiltrate and destroy the bunkers and remove as many of the enemy as possible. What they couldn’t blow-up, they booby-trapped. The area was decimated to a point that no further damages were encountered subsequent to this action.