I Am Proud To Be A "COASTIE"
By Doug Peterson
After "9-1-1" it came to the attention of some well meaning, but uninformed people that made noise about calling a member of the United States Coast Guard the nickname "Coastie" as demeaning.
I hereby argue the point.
First, for the uninformed (I shall not call them ignorant, although tempted,) this is a semantics game being played. Agreed that quite often any word or name that is ending with an "IE" could be interpreted as belittling or demeaning.
And for those who do not know who we are (active "seasoned" members of the Coast Guard) or what we do (and have done,) the privilege to use the term "Coastie" by anyone of else has not been granted.
Just as the term "love" can be used many ways, so can the term "Coastie" be likewise used. If I come up to a young lady and proclaim "I Love You !", how that statement is interpreted is dependent upon how I make that declaration, what my tone of voice and body language is, and how well I might know that person. So it is with the term "Coastie.".
A "Coastie" is one who has served actively in the United States Coast Guard, and been in the thick of action for some time. He or she has done their tour on a ship or lifeboat station, at an M.S.O. doing boardings, been on SAR or regularly worked AtoN. ["desk driving" while an essential support role, doesn't
A true "Coastie" has earned the
right to be called such because of their experience, training, and uncountable
hours and days sacrificed to help others.
True "Coasties" have earned that title, not for self recognition, but by the recognition from others, whose lives have been rescued or had their lives changed as a result of the dedication of the men and women who proudly and without boasting wear our blue uniform.
True "Coasties" have earned the title, for their compassion towards their fellow mankind and their willingness to go out in all weather and environments, to protect and save others, giving up their own safety and comfort to complete the mission.
True "Coasties" have earned the title, by doing the heroic as a daily task.
When others were hunkered down after an
attack, a crisis, an emergency, or other life threatening event,
"Coasties" were already underway to help, to serve, to protect, and to
True "Coasties" have served, and will continue to serve in two kinds of wars. Those declared by our government upon our enemies (War of 1812, Civil War, Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, Korea, Viet Nam, Bosnia, Desert Shield and Storm, and the current "9-1-1" Homeland Security crisis).
The second kind of war is one
"hooligans" (another old honorable term) have continuously fought
during the time our nation has been at "peace" (drugs, illegal
refugees, pollution, fisheries patrols, search and rescue,
maritime safety, environmental protection, aids to navigation, etc.)
You can call me "Coastie" two ways - and I know the difference (I've been there.) Either by ignorance (in which I and my shipmates should only be recognized as a member of the U.S. Coast Guard), or as a "Coastie" (with respect and the recognition the United States Coast Guard has earned for its continued
service to our nation.) When another veteran calls me "Coastie", I recognize the respect, dignity and honor being bestowed, not only towards the time I've spent, but also to the finest military (yes, contrary to what some still think, even after 9-1-1, we are still a separate military armed force) organization in the United
I served proudly and with honor for over twenty-six years in this "Hooligan Navy" (another term which was proudly earned during WWII by "Coasties" for their continued diligence and devotion to duty in the heat of conflict) If recalled, I would gladly do it again (as would many other 'retired' "Coasties").
The term "Coastie" is an honorable term, deserving of those who have proudly served; past, present, and future!
"I AM A 'COASTIE' AND PROUD OF IT"
The term is only demeaned by
those who do not know what it really means or the price paid to earn that
"Once a Coastie - Always a Coastie"
Douglas R. Peterson USCG (Retired)
Historian of Vessels of USCG / USRCS / USLHS
Author "U.S. Lighthouse Service Tenders"
2989 Gulf Drive
Fairfield CA 94533-7006
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