William Thiesen

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The Yankee Clipper: The U.S. Coast Guard's Last Battle Before WWII

By William Thiesen 2019-06-21 22:31:50

Hitting the East Coast over 80 years ago, the Great New England Hurricane was one of the most destructive storms to strike anywhere in the United States up to that time. Also known as the “Yankee Clipper” and “Long Island Express,” the 1938 hurricane caused over $41 billion in property damage and the death of approximately 700 men, women and children. During the storm response, the Coast Guard assisted over 500 vessels and rescued over 1,000 persons. However, the storm...

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William Flores, Hero of the Cutter Blackthorn

By William Thiesen 2019-04-28 15:53:52

That quiet young man that I was impressed with from the first time I met him will forever be a hero in my eyes. I have never forgotten him and never will. It is a fitting tribute to his heroism that a cutter will bear his name. -Lt. Cmdr....

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The Cutter Icarus and the First German Prisoners of WWII

By William Thiesen 2019-04-05 11:05:50

“Contacted submarine. Destroyed same. Lat 34°12 ½” Long 76° 35″. Have 33 of her crew members on board. Proceeding Charleston with survivors.” -Lt. Maurice Jester, Coast Guard Cutter Icarus, May 9, 1942 U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Maurice Jester transmitted the message above after sinking U-352, the second German submarine destroyed by U.S. forces in World War II. Icarus also rescued 33...

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The Coast Guard's First Medal of Honor Recipient

By William Thiesen 2019-03-22 13:07:01

Many with knowledge of service history believe Guadalcanal hero Douglas Munro was the Coast Guard’s first and only recipient of the Medal of Honor. Technically, they would be wrong. In fact, Lighthouse Keeper Marcus Aurelius Hanna also received the Medal of Honor, the U.S. military’s highest recognition for combat heroism.

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100 Years Ago, One Coast Guard Cutter Defied Segregation

By William Thiesen 2019-02-22 10:43:06

Throughout the history of the U.S. Coast Guard, the nation has tasked the service with new missions to respond to all sorts of maritime threats and crisis. Such was the case with the Great Flood of 1913, considered by many as the most devastating flood in U.S. history. In the list of deadly American floods, the Great 1913 Flood ranks only second in number of lives lost. The 1889 Johnstown Flood distinguished itself as the deadliest with approximately 2,200 victims...

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New Cutter to be Named After Heroic WWII Rescue Swimmer

By William Thiesen 2019-02-08 17:18:10

". . . his courageous disregard for his own personal safety in a situation of grave peril was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service." - Navy & Marine Corps Medal citation, Officer’s Steward 2/c Warren T. Deyampert African-American Petty Officer Warren Traveous Deyampert served in the U.S. Coast Guard in early World War II. It was a time when the U.S. military barred African-Americans from...

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A 1943 photograph showing the commandant, Vice Adm. Russell Waesche, during a tour of wartime Coast Guard forces in the field. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Waesche: The U.S. Coast Guard’s Second Founding Father

By William Thiesen 2018-11-23 18:29:13

“Adm. Waesche was largely responsible for the consistent development of the United States Coast Guard from a peacetime organization of approximately 15,000 to a wartime force of more than 170,000 officers and members. Under his supervision, the Coast Guard distinguished itself in supporting landing operations of the Army, Navy and Marines, on convoying merchant ships and in other hazardous tasks.” Navy Secretary James Forrestal, Navy Distinguished Service Medal Citation. The quote above refers to Adm. Russell Waesche, an organizational genius...

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The Last of the Coast Guard's MIAs

By William Thiesen 2018-09-24 17:42:05

Last week saw the annual observance of the National Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Recognition Day. Of the service’s three known MIAs, two may still be frozen in Greenland’s ice cap. Like many selfless Coast Guardsmen, Lt. John Pritchard (left) and Petty Officer First Class Benjamin Bottoms, a radioman, went in harm’s way to save lives only to sacrifice their own. “Johnny” Pritchard graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 1938 and earned his wings...

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The Coast Guard's Largest Overseas Unit

By William Thiesen 2018-09-17 15:53:56

Naval operations supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) began with the U.S. Navy in the summer of 2002. The Navy drew on its plans for combat operations in Iraq, and in September 2002, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) requested U.S. Coast Guard support. Preparations for Coast Guard deployment moved quickly. In October, the service’s Atlantic Area Command (LANTAREA), headquartered in Portsmouth, Virginia, created a deployable detachment to oversee personnel, supply and maintenance needs for patrol boat operations in the Arabian...

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Baptism of Fire: The Rescue of the SS Mirlo

By William Thiesen 2018-08-17 14:48:31

One hundred years ago, on the afternoon of Aug. 16, 1918, British tanker SS Mirlo was steaming through wind-swept seas north of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. At about 4:30 p.m., a torpedo from German U-boat U-117 ripped into her hull, shooting up a column of water. The hit was seen seven miles away by the lookout at the Chicamacomico Coast Guard Station in Rodanthe, North Carolina. Flames leaped into the sky as a cargo of fuel gushed out of the Mirlo's hull...

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