Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Rear Admiral William D. Baumgartner, who serves as the commander of the Seventh U.S. Coast Guard District, presented members of the Georgetown Coast Guard Station with a special award Wednesday.
Baumgartner met with the dozens of men and women serving at the station to honor them with the Sumner I. Kimball Readiness Award.
“It is good to know that the Georgetown station is doing well and I am proud to present you with this award,” Baumgartner said. “It takes everyone, from the bottom up, to win this award. It is representative of what you do every day.”
This prestigious award, named for the general superintendent of the nation’s Life-Saving Service from 1878-1915, exemplifies the Coast Guard motto, “Always be ready.”
It is presented to only about 15 Coast Guard Units around the country, and beyond, each year.
This is the first year that the Georgetown station has received it, according to Chief Brandon Stoia, who serves at the station.
He said the award criteria includes checking their gear and the station’s four boats, crew tests, and practical evaluations with different scenarios for missions.
History of the Coast Guard
The U. S. Coast Guard is simultaneously and at all times a military force and federal law enforcement agency dedicated to safety, security, and stewardship missions, according to the U.S. Coast Guard website.
“We save lives. We protect the environment. We defend the homeland. We enforce Federal laws on the high seas, the nation’s coastal waters and its inland waterways. We are unique in the Nation and the world,” said the website.
The U.S. Coast Guard’s official history began on August 4, 1790 when the first Congress authorized the construction of 10 vessels to enforce federal tariff and trade laws and to prevent smuggling.
Known variously through the 19th and early 20th centuries as the “revenue cutters,” the “system of cutters,” the Revenue Marine and finally the Revenue Cutter Service, membership expanded in size and responsibilities as the nation grew.
The service received its present name in 1915 under an act of Congress that merged the Revenue Cutter Service with the Life-Saving Service, thereby providing the nation with a single maritime service dedicated to saving life at sea and enforcing the nation’s maritime laws, according to the website.
The Coast Guard began to maintain the country’s aids to maritime navigation, including operating the nation’s lighthouses, when President Franklin
Roosevelt ordered the transfer of the Lighthouse Service to the Coast Guard in 1939.
In 1946 Congress permanently transferred the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation to the Coast Guard, thereby placing merchant marine licensing and merchant vessel safety under its purview.
The Coast Guard is one of the oldest organizations of the federal government and until Congress established the Navy Department in 1798 it served as the nation’s only armed force afloat.
It protects the nation throughout our long history and served proudly in every one of the nation’s conflicts.
Its national defense responsibilities remain one of its most important functions even today.
In times of peace it operates as part of the Department of Homeland Security, serving as the nation’s front-line agency for enforcing the nation’s laws at sea, protecting the marine environment and the nation’s vast coastline and ports, and saving life. In times of war, or at the direction of the President, it serves under the Navy Department.
By Clayton Stairs