Americans in Wartime Experience
August 16, 2021
The United States Coast Guard was formed on August 4, 1790 as the Revenue Marine. On January 28,1915, the modern day Coast Guard was formed with the merger of the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service and the U.S. Life Saving Service. Today, the Coast Guard acts as the country's coastal defense and conducts maritime search and rescue and law enforcement activities.

The Coast Guard falls under the Department of Homeland Security, however, during wartime, the president can transfer their assets to the Department of the Navy. In virtually every war and conflict the United States has been involved in, the president has done just that. The Coast Guard was involved in WWII prior to the United States entering the war when they were sent to the North Atlantic to patrol after Germany invaded Denmark.

The motto of the Coast Guard is Semper Paratus meaning, Always Ready. The men and women of the United States Coast Guard are indeed always ready to put themselves in harms way and to protect the United States and to keep us safe and secure. This August 4th, we wish them all a happy birthday. Stay safe!

Coast Guard Veteran Spotlight

As we celebrate the Coast Guard’s birthday in August, we spotlight the service of Bill Cowper who served during World War II. William Cowper entered the United States Coast Guard from Lockport, New York immediately after his graduation from high school in 1943. Only 17 years of age, he completed boot camp and transferred to Camp Lejeune, where he trained to operate amphibious personnel landing craft. After about a year of joint training with the Marines, Seaman Cowper and his crew boarded the USS SHELIAK (AKA-62) in New York and began their journey to the Pacific Ocean, via the Panama Canal.

The transit took SN Cowper to several memorable stops along the way, which included Pearl Harbor and the recently liberated Philippines. He made it to the tip of the spear in time to participate in the Battle of Okinawa, which began on the 1st of April 1945.

SN Cowper describes in detail his two landing runs on Okinawa where they met no resistance from the shore, and his eyewitness accounts of the kamikaze attacks on the larger naval vessels. After the Japanese surrender, he and his shipmates returned to Norfolk, Virginia. He was discharged in 1946.
See the full interview with Bill
The Americans in Wartime Experience explores the impact of war and conflict on America since WWI. It honors those who served in the military and on the home front and highlights the values they demonstrated in serving – duty, honor, and courage. It examines how periods of conflict have profoundly shaped American society. It educates visitors about the costs of war, both on a personal and social level. It challenges visitors to remember the service and sacrifices made by their fellow citizens to preserve and defend our freedoms. LEARN MORE

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