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If you enjoy boating and appreciate the navigational aids and other resources that make America’s waters safe, you can give much of the credit to the U.S. Coast Guard and to its unpaid, volunteer Auxiliary, which has its 80th anniversary this month. 

The Coast Guard Auxiliary was established by Congress on June 23, 1939, to help address an increase in boating accidents as the U.S. emerged from the Great Depression and more Americans could afford boats. During WW II Auxiliarists were authorized to serve as temporary Coast Guard reservists. Like the Auxiliarist on lookout in the black and white photo, they helped secure America’s waters. 

Today, the Auxiliary’s 26,000 volunteers provide nearly 4 million hours of service annually in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa and Guam, offering Boating Safety classes, free Vessel Safety Checks and Safety Patrols like the one conducted in the photo by Auxiliarists John Sawyer, left, and Jim Bach, right, from Flotilla 25- 08 (Mount Vernon) in Alexandria, Virginia. 

Modern-day Auxiliarists do not have law enforcement or military responsibilities, but provide radio watch standers at Coast Guard stations and with search and rescue when called upon by the Coast Guard. Like their active-duty and Reserve Coast Guard counterparts, Auxiliarists are “Semper Paratus” (always ready) and always looking for volunteers. 

Contact Flotilla 25-08’s Vice Flotilla Commander Ted Caliga at johnbielli@gmail.com, to learn how to join.

Beginner boating classes This beginner boating class gives you the knowledge needed to meet the boat license or safety certification requirements in all states. Many boat insurance companies will offer discounts on boating insurance to boaters who successfully complete About Boating Safely. Students get a textbook, laminated wallet card, certificate, and a number of safety-related Coast Guard reference materials. Fee: $40 for one, $60 for two, $80 for three sharing the textbook. The next class is July 20 at Washington Farm United Methodist Church, 3921 Old Mill Road, Alexandria, Va. 22309. For more info, contact Ted Caliga, johnbielli@gmail.com, 202-329-9485.