The United States Coast Guard 1790 to the Present - A History
The United States Coast Guard
1790 To The Present
Copyright © 2006 Thomas P. Ostrom
To the men and women of the USCG
who have served with honor and courage.
Thomas P. Ostrom, Rochester, Mn.
The author would like to extend his appreciation to the sources listed at the end of this book; to the USCG
civilian and military personnel who contributed their time, materials, and expertise, and Coast Guard Historian
Scott T. Price.
We appreciated the professionalism, guidance and support of David St. John and his staff at Elderberry Press,
Fred Herzberg (Captain, USCG, Ret.), founder and director of the Foundation for Coast Guard History, and
Captain Gene Davis, USCG, curator of the Coast Guard Museum, NW.
I am especially grateful to my wife Mary Lamal Ostrom who shares my Wisconsin origins and whose
encouragement and support made this book possible.
In 1961, I accompanied two Wisconsin friends from Superior to the office of the United States Coast Guard
recruiter in Duluth, Minnesota. The Duluth-Superior Harbor serves commercial shipping on the western
terminus of Lake Superior. The Great Lake‟s expanse, frightening storms, and extremes of humid continental
climate challenge the U.S. Coast Guard personnel so appropriately stationed there.
Port security, aids to navigation, search and rescue, law enforcement, marine inspection and ice breaking duties
are among the responsibilities of this element of the U.S. armed forces. The Coast Guard meets those challenges
daily in U.S. waters and overseas.
My friends, William Frels and Harvey Hoven, and I had just graduated from college and were about to embark
on exciting ventures in the USCG Reserve. We entered basic and advanced training at USCG Base, Alameda,
California. After rigorous training and some ocean going experience, we returned home to continue USCG
monthly meetings, summer training and education, and our civilian careers.
I subsequently taught secondary and college courses in history, geography and anthropology. Bill and Harvey
went on to successful careers in banking, finance and investment. Our USCGR obligations ended in 1969, but
our interest in the USCG prevailed. I continued to monitor the history and contemporary activities of the proud
It is from that experience that the idea for this history of the United States Coast Guard germinated. The
research completed and knowledge gained made me all the more appreciative of the Coast Guard motto,
“Semper Paratus.” Indeed, the Coast Guard, throughout its complex history from the time of the Revenue
Marine Service to the present, has confirmed its gallant motto, “Always Ready.”
COAST GUARD ORIGINS
The U.S. Revenue Marine and Life Saving Services (1790-1915)