U.S. Coast Guard celebrates 225th birthday

Rescue swimmers from Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak wait for a basket pickup by an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter during open water training off the coast of Kodiak Island April 23, 2008. (Official USCG photo by PA1 Kurt Fredrickson)
Rescue swimmers from Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak wait for a basket pickup by an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter during open water training off the coast of Kodiak Island April 23, 2008. (Official USCG photo by PA1 Kurt Fredrickson)

Today is the 225th birthday of the United States Coast Guard. And to celebrate that event, the new commanding officer of Air Station Kodiak, Captain Mark Morin, joined KMXT to talk about Coast Guard history and his experiences in Kodiak.

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He says he started in his current position this June, but his time as a pilot in the Coast Guard brought him to Kodiak in the mid-1990s.

“A lot of the kids that we knew, a lot of the people that we knew have grown up, have some moved away, some are still here,” says Morin. “So, it’s great to engage with them again and to see them as adults now, because my wife was a teacher and taught a lot of the local community – the kids here at the schools – so, it’s nice to run into these folks and see them being productive citizens here in Kodiak.”

Morin says flying through the local weather is as challenging as ever, but says he loves Kodiak’s ruggedness. And, according to Morin, the Coast Guard has been fighting the wind and the rain on Kodiak Island since the late 1940s.

“This was a Navy station built to commission in 1941 and then, in 1947, we had a coast guard detachment of PBY Catalina aircraft, which were the kind of aircraft that had a boat-type bottom that would land on the water and would conduct search and rescue out here in this region and then, in 1972, it officially was turned over – the base was turned over – to the U.S. coast guard.”

And he explains the United States Coast Guard has been around since the late 18th century, but not as one organization.

“1790 was the birth of the Coast Guard, and we weren’t called the Cost Guard back then,” says Morin. “We were called Revenue Cutter Service, Lighthouse Service, Bureau of Navigation, Steamboat Service, and then Life-Saving Service. So, there were like five agencies back then.”

Morin says the Coast Guard as we know it was established in 1915.

“We took all of those agencies that overlapped in different authorities and we called it the Coast Guard, commissioned it as the Coast Guard, and obviously, the rest is history. A hundred years of modern day Coast Guard, if you will, up until now.”