If you have spent time on Lake Allatoona, or any of our area lakes, you may have passed a vessel with a sign on it that reads “U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Patrol.” Maybe while shopping at Academy Sports, Cabela’s, the sporting goods department of WalMart, or a local marine retailer, you’ve picked up pamphlets or brochures about boating safety, proper use of life jackets, or navigation aids. While attending the Wakeboard National Championships in Acworth, you may have walked past the Coast Guard Auxiliary information booth. Perhaps you’ve considered taking a boating safety class, or getting a safety check of your boat. Members of your local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary provides the information and performs all of these activities, and many more.
The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary is the uniformed volunteer component of the U.S. Coast Guard, with 78 years of service. Congress formed the Coast Guard Auxiliary in 1939. When America entered World War II, about 55,000 volunteer Auxiliary members joined the war effort guarding waterfronts. They performed coastal picket patrols, including watching for enemy submarines and rescuing survivors from torpedoed and other boats.
Today, more than 30,000 men and women in the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary volunteer millions of unpaid hours each year. They are trained to standards set by the Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard and assist in the performance of any Coast Guard function, duty, mission or operation authorized, with the exception of direct military duty and law enforcement. Coast Guard Auxiliary missions include safety patrols on waterways, teaching boating safety classes, conducting free courtesy vessel safety checks, search and rescue, disaster training, pollution response, commercial fishing vessel inspections, radio watchstanding, flight patrols with AUXAIR units, assisting the Coast Guard in various mobilization exercises, even cooking at Coast Guard stations and on Coast Guard cutters, and any mission as directed by the Commandant of the Coast Guard.
The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary has members in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa and Guam. Members include former and current members representing all of the armed forces. Membership is open to U.S. citizens, 17 years of age or older. There is no upper-age limit. A personal security investigation will be processed as part of enrollment due to the security nature of working with the Coast Guard.
Lake Allatoona’s local Coast Guard Auxiliary unit (Flotilla 22) has had a very busy year. Members of Flotilla 22 have performed more than 930 vessel safety checks, 570 retail program visitations, conducted nine boating safety classes educating nearly 100 local boaters, conducted 215 hours of on-the-water safety patrols, and participated in 51 hours of training.
Follow the link for more information about the Lake Allatoona Coast Guard Auxiliary unit (Flotilla 22).
By Gregory Fonzeno