U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary
A Proud Tradition, A Worthy Mission
For nearly 60 years, tens-of-thousands of men and women
of the Coast Guard Auxiliary have spent millions of volunteer
hours helping the Coast Guard carry out its mission. They
have saved countless lives through their work, on and off
the water. Auxiliarists are probably best known for educating
the public through their boating safety classes and Courtesy
Marine Examinations. Yet, they do much more and will be doing
even more following passage of the Coast Guard Authorization
Act of 1996. The purpose of the Act, passed Oct. 19, is to
assist the Coast Guard, as authorized by the Commandant, in
performance of any Coast Guard function, duty, role, mission
or operation authorized by law. This story hopefully will
give you a broad knowledge of the Auxiliary, especially since
reservists will be working with Auxiliarists even more in
the future, as they become an increasingly important component
in the Team Coast Guard line-up.
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
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, Feb. 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. Some Auxiliarists served weeks at a
time with the Temporary Reserve. 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 in 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 remain the Auxiliary's pillars in the 1990s.
The Vessel Examination program evolved into the well-known
Courtesy Marine Examination (CME), a free examination available
to any recreational boater. CMEs help boaters ensure their
craft complies with Federal regulations.
As for education, the Auxiliary teaches boating safety to
recreational boaters of all ages. The Auxiliary offers Boating
Skills and Seamanship (geared toward power boaters) and Sailing
and Seamanship (for sailboaters) as well as basic and advanced
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. During Olympic yachting events
in Savannah, Ga. last summer, the Coast Guard Auxiliary had
29 boats and a CG Auxiliary aircraft on hand for security
Today, as in 1939, Auxiliarists are civilian volunteers who
are authorized to wear a uniform similar to the Coast Guard
Officer's uniform. Distinctive emblems, buttons, insignias,
and ribbons are employed to identify the wearer as a member
of the Auxiliary. One such insignia is the letter "A"
on the shoulder boards of an Auxiliarist. Despite their silver
shoulder boards (versus gold for Coast Guard officers), Auxiliarists
hold no rank. The shoulder boards symbolize the office and
level to which an individual Auxiliarist has been either appointed
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.
Although 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 Commander (DCDR), and Division Vice Commander
(DVCDR) 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 Chief of Staff (DCOS), and District
Captains (DCAPT), 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.
The current National Commodore is Everette L. Tucker Jr.
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.
On 1 March 2003, Coast Guard Forces (the Coast Guard, The
Coast Guard Reserve, the Coast Guard Auxiliary, and Coast
Guard civilians) became a major part of the Department of
Homeland Security. While the Department of Transportation
has truly been an outstanding "home" for us, today's
security environment has mandated a profound shift in our
national security priorities and, for us, a new coast Guard
maritime security strategy. The Auxiliary will become the
leading volunteer organization in this new, major Department.
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, they receive
tremendous satisfaction for a job well done. They have proven
valiant throughout the years and take the oath of membership
seriously. They contribute immeasurably to our Coast Guard