The sacrifices and dedication shown by the members of the USCG are commemorated by Coast Guard challenge coins that represent specific aircraft or ships, squadrons, units and individuals for outstanding duty. Challenge coins are beautifully designed with seals, insignia, standards, stripes, mottos and other graphics that represent specific action. They are manufactured from various metals including gold, silver, steel and designers work with Coast Guard personal including officers and enlisted men to guarantee each coin has the correct color, seal or insignia for the particular purpose of the coin. Through etching, they have an embossed appearance and each one is a treasure.
The United States Coast Guard (USCG) was founded in 1790 by Alexander Hamilton and is the oldest continuous maritime service in the United States. It is also unique in that it has maritime law enforcement jurisdiction in both domestic and international waters. It may conduct military operations directly under the President or under the Department of Defense. With the role of maritime safety, security and stewardship, the USCG is Always Ready. They have played an important role is every war from the Franco-American War from 1798 to 1800 to Anti-piracy in the Persian Gulf today.
The men and women of the USCG put their lives at risk every day in the Caribbean preventing drug trafficking. In the Bering Sea, breaking ice in the arctic waters and rescuing fishermen from the icy water, enforcing the boating regulations on the Great Lakes and helping in a thousand ways at the time of national disasters are just a few of the missions of the USCG to ensure the country’s coasts, inland waterways and ports are safe. They look after the environment, U.S. economic interests as well as being part of the Department of Homeland Security.
In their role of non-homeland security missions, the Coast Guard enforces fishing laws to inhibit illegal fishing, and in their enforcement capacity they board vessels, inspect harbor facilities and conduct harbor patrols. They protect the marine environment including pollution prevention and clean the sea from oil or chemical discharge. These duties are quietly heroic and deserve recognition by way of commemorative military challenge coins.
Members of the USCG often risk their lives during their homeland security missions. They are responsible for the security of the coast of the United States including waterways and ports. Their motto Always Ready was never more important and is regularly put on challenge coins. They are in the front line for drug smuggling off the coast of Florida and often use weapons to warn smugglers. Human trafficking also takes place with illegal immigrants being smuggled into the United States. The USCG is responsible for migrant interdiction.
The Search and Rescue (SAR) mission of the USCG is possibly the most famous even though it is not their oldest mission. It is seen on TV and in films as well as the nightly news as they are responsible for maritime Search and Rescue. The United States Air Force is responsible for inland SAR and they coordinate with the USCG for a combined effort for both civilian and military SAR. In 1899, this life saving service added the regulation that every possible means to execute a rescue must be attempted no matter how impossible it looks. The many successful SAR missions alone constitute heroism deserving of a commemorative challenge coin.
The USCG has a wide variety of weapons they use including shotguns, sidearm pistols and assault rifles. Boat crews and boarding teams are armed and boats, cutters, and helicopters are mounted with machine guns. Sometimes they need to use a sniper from a helicopter to shoot out the engine of a fast drug-running boat that is trying to escape from the Coast Guard Maritime.
The USCG fired the first shots of the American Civil War, and between 1794 and 1885 they captured over 500 slave ships transporting slaves from Africa to the U.S. At the declaration of war during WWI, the USCG was transferred to the control of the US Navy. The Navy recognized the experience at sea of the officers and petty officers of the Coast Guard and used them as crew on Navy ships. During WWII the Coast Guard sank two Japanese submarines and 12 German submarines and captured two German surface vessels. The Coast Guard gained recognition for their significant role as convoy protection. They also continued to patrol the home shores.
The USCG not only participates in all U.S. combat, it maintains its duty at home protecting the coast, waterways and SAR. The future includes an Integrated Deep-water System Program that is intended to meet threats to the U.S. from deep sea. It will require new ships and aircraft as well as new information technology for surveillance, intelligence gathering and reconnaissance. Such new tools of the trade are commonly depicted on modern challenge coins.
In all of their duties and missions, all members of the USCG including those on active duty, reservists, auxiliary and civilians maintain their core values. Honor, Respect and Devotion to duty are the values they follow. They are accountable to the public trust, respect each other and work as a team and are foremost professionals who accept responsibility for their actions. These high standards, while keeping the seas safe for U.S. citizens and people the world over to enjoy a peaceful life, deserve recognition with a United States Coast Guard challenge coin.