This video will open a brief window into United States Coast Guard history that most people know little or nothing about, even Coasties. The two people in the video are “enactors” who have connections to the Coast Guard and do this to teach this unique bit of USCG history.
In June 1942 the world was at war in both Europe and in the Pacific. WWII had been going on in Europe for several years already, but the attack at Pearl Harbor brought the United States into the war in both theaters.
The nation had a real concern about the possibility of a German invasion from the sea along our Eastern and Gulf Coasts. Because of this, the United States Coast Guard formed a special unit called The United States Coast Guard Beach Patrol. They were called “Sand Pounders.”
At its height there were 24,000 men aged 17-73 engaged in this unique mission watching over 3,700 miles of coastline. They were often mounted on horseback or accompanied by dogs. There were 3,700 horses in the unit. These units carried out that mission from June of 1942 until the preparations for the Normandy Invasion found most of these men to active sea duty in 1944.
The USCG Beach Patrol had three objectives: To observe and report offshore enemy vessels, to report enemy landing attempts, and to prevent people on land from communicating with the enemy at sea.
These patrols were armed with radios, compasses, whistles, pistols and rifles. The patrols generally consisted of two mounted Coasties separated by 100 feet and covering 2 miles of coastline quickly and efficiently.
What seems a rather simplistic method to us today, was a very effective effort that provided a practical and active watch on our coasts but also a psychological benefit. Their presence gave the people, especially along the coasts, a sense of security from the then very real worry about German invasion attempts.
This story made the Coast Guard motto even more meaningful to me. The motto is: Semper Paratus! (Always Prepared!) The United States Coast Guard has been vigilant in its many missions since the beginning of our country. They have saved countless lives and property from the vagaries of the seas, braving the worst that that implacable force can bring to bear to keep us safe. That the Coast Guard had this kind of unit during WWII shows how flexible and agile they have always been.
The Veterans Site sends its greatest respect to all those who have served and those who continue to serve in the United States Coast Guard. We honor your history and your present skills and dedication to serve the nation in so many different ways.
You are clearly, Semper Paratus! Bravo Zulu!Whizzco