Tens-of-thousands of men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary (the Auxiliary) have spent millions of volunteer hours helping the U.S. Coast Guard (the Coast Guard) carry out its mission. They have saved countless lives through their work and are probably best known for their boating safety classes and Vessel Safety Checks.
Here we present a broad knowledge of the Auxiliary, as we become an increasingly important member of "Team Coast Guard" - the combined Active, Reserve, Auxiliary and Civilian components of the Coast Guard.
When the Coast Guard "Reserve" was authorized by act of Congress on June 23, 1939, the Coast Guard was given a legislative mandate to use civilian volunteers to promote safety on and over the high seas and the nation's navigable waters. The Coast Guard Reserve was then a non-military service comprised of unpaid, volunteer U.S. citizens who owned motorboats or yachts.
Two years later, on Feb. 19, Congress amended the 1939 act with passage of the Auxiliary and Reserve Act of 1941. Passage of this act designated the Reserve as a military branch of the active service, while the civilian volunteers, formerly referred to as the Coast Guard Reserve, became the Auxiliary. So, February 19 is formally recognized as the birth of the Coast Guard Reserve while June 23 is recognized as birthday of the Coast Guard Auxiliary.
When America entered World War II, 50,000 Auxiliary members joined the war effort. They guarded waterfronts, carried out coastal picket patrols, rescued survivors from scuttled ships and did anything else they were asked to do. Many of their private vessels were placed into service.
After the war, Auxiliarists resumed their recreational boating safety duties. The Auxiliary's four cornerstones - Vessel Examination, Education, Operations and Fellowship - were established and remained the Auxiliary's pillars into the 1990s.
The well-known Vessel Safety Check, a free examination available to any recreational boater, helps boaters ensure their craft complies with Federal boating regulations.
As for Education, the Auxiliary teaches boating safety to recreational boaters of all ages.
The Auxiliary operates safety and regatta patrols and is an integral part of the Coast Guard Search and Rescue team. Auxiliarists also stand communication watches, assist during mobilization exercises, perform harbor and pollution patrols, provide platforms for unarmed boarding parties and recruit new people for the Service.
Following passage of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 1996. The Auxiliary assists the Coast Guard, as authorized by the Commandant, in performance of any Coast Guard function, duty, role, mission or operation authorized by law.
The Auxiliary has members in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Guam. Membership is open to men and women, 17 years or older, U.S. citizens of all states and territories, civilians or active duty or former members of any of the uniformed services and their Reserve components, including the Coast Guard. Facility (radio station, boat or aircraft) ownership is desirable but not mandatory.
Under the authority of the Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, the Auxiliary is internally autonomous, operating on four organizational levels: Flotilla, Division, District Regions and National.
- Flotilla - The Flotilla is the basic organizational unit of the Auxiliary and is comprised of at least 15 qualified members who carry out Auxiliary program activities. Every Auxiliarist is a member of a local Flotilla. Each Flotilla is headed by a Flotilla Commander (FC).
- Division - For maximum administrative effectiveness in carrying out Auxiliary programs, Flotillas in the same general geographic area are grouped into Divisions. The Division provides administrative, training and supervisory support to Flotillas and promotes District policy. Each Division is headed by a Division Captain (DCP), and Division Vice-Captain (VCP) and usually consists of five or more Flotillas.
- District/Region - Flotillas and Divisions are organized in Districts comparable to the Coast Guard Districts and must be assigned the same district number. Some Districts are further divided into Regions. The District/Region provides administrative and supervisory support to Divisions, promotes policies of both the District Commander and National Auxiliary Committee. All Districts and Regions are governed by a District Commodore (DCO), District Vice Commodore (VCO), and District Rear Commodore (RCO), under the guidance of the Coast Guard District Commander. At this level, Coast Guard officers are assigned to oversee and promote the Auxiliary programs.
- National - The Auxiliary has national officers who are responsible, along with
the Commandant, for the administration and policy-making for the entire
Auxiliary. These officers comprise the National Executive Committee (NEXCOM)
that is composed of the Chief Director of Auxiliary (an Active Duty
officer), National Commodore and the National Vice Commodores.
NEXCOM and the National Staff make up the Auxiliary Headquarters organization. The Chief Director is a senior Coast Guard officer and directs the administration of the Auxiliary on policies established by the Commandant. The overall supervision of the Coast Guard Auxiliary is under the Assistant Commandant for Operations (G-O), who reports directly to the Commandant.
Auxiliarists are dedicated civilians who believe strongly in the Coast Guard and its missions. A hearty thank you is the only pay an Auxiliarist expects. Personally, we receive tremendous satisfaction for a job well done. We have proven valiant throughout the years and take the oath of membership seriously. We contribute immeasurably and proudly to Team Coast Guard.