USCG Auxiliary History
USCG Auxiliary North Star Flotilla
For over 60 years, tens-of-thousands of men and women of the Coast Guard
Auxiliary have spent millions of volunteer hours helping the Coast Guard carry
out its mission. They have saved countless lives through their work, on and off
the water. Auxiliarists are probably best known for educating the public through
their boating safety classes and Courtesy Marine Examinations. Yet, they do much
more and will be doing even more following passage of the Coast Guard
Authorization Act of 1996. The purpose of the Act, passed Oct. 19, is to assist
the Coast Guard, as authorized by the Commandant, in performance of any Coast
Guard function, duty, role, mission or operation authorized by law. This story
hopefully will give you a broad knowledge of the Auxiliary, especially since
reservists will be working with Auxiliarists even more in the future, as they
become an increasingly important component in the Team Coast Guard line-up.
When the Coast Guard "Reserve" was authorized by act of Congress on June 23,
1939, the Coast Guard was given a legislative mandate to use civilian volunteers
to promote safety on and over the high seas and the nation's navigable waters.
The Coast Guard Reserve was then a non-military service comprised of unpaid,
volunteer U.S. citizens who owned motorboats or yachts.
Two years later, on Feb. 19, Congress amended the 1939 act with passage of the
Auxiliary and Reserve Act of 1941. Passage of this act designated the Reserve as
a military branch of the active service, while the civilian volunteers, formerly
referred to as the Coast Guard Reserve, became the Auxiliary. So, Feb. 19 is
formally recognized as the birth of the Coast Guard Reserve while June 23 is
recognized as birthday of the Coast Guard Auxiliary. When America entered World
War II, 50,000 Auxiliary m embers joined the war effort. Some Auxiliarists
served weeks at a time with the Temporary Reserve. They guarded waterfronts,
carried out coastal picket patrols, rescued survivors from scuttled ships and
did anything else they were asked to do. Many of their private vessels were aced
After the war, Auxiliarists resumed their recreational boating safety duties.
The Auxiliary's four cornerstones - Vessel Examination, Education, Operations
and Fellowship - were established and remain the Auxiliary's pillars in the
The Vessel Examination program evolved into the known Courtesy Marine
Examination (CME), a free examination available to any recreational boater.
CME's help boaters ensure their craft complies with Federal regulations.
As for education, the Auxiliary teaches boating safety to recreational boaters
of all ages. The Auxiliary offers Boating Skills and Seamanship (geared toward
power boaters) and Sailing and Seamanship (for sail boaters) as well as basic
and advanced navigation courses.
The Auxiliary operates safety and regatta patrols and is an integral part of the
Coast Guard Search and Rescue team. Auxiliarists also stand communication
watches, assist during mobilization exercises, perform harbor and pollution
patrols, provide platforms for unarmed boarding parties and recruit new people
for the Service. During Olympic yachting events in Savannah, Ga. the Coast Guard
Auxiliary had 29 boats and a CG Auxiliary aircraft on hand for security
Today, as in 1939, Auxiliarists are civilian volunteers who are authorized to
wear a uniform similar to the Coast Guard officer's uniform. Distinctive
emblems, buttons, insignias, and ribbons are employed to identify the wearer as
a member of the Auxiliary. One such insignia is the letter "A" on the shoulder
boards of an Auxiliarist. Despite their silver shoulder boards (versus gold for
Coast Guard officers), Auxiliarists hold no rank. The shoulder boards symbolize
the office and level to which an individual Auxiliarist has been either
appointed or elected.
The Auxiliary has members in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands,
American Samoa, and Guam. Membership is open to men and women, 17 years or
older, U.S. citizens of all states and territories, civilians or active duty or
former members of any of the uniformed services and their Reserve components,
including the Coast Guard. Facility (radio station, boat or aircraft) ownership
is desirable but not mandatory.
Although under the authority of the Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, the
Auxiliary is internally autonomous, operating on four organizational levels:
Flotilla, Division, District Regions and National.
Flotilla - The Flotilla is the basic organizational unit of the Auxiliary and is
comprised of at least 15 qualified members who carry out Auxiliary program
activities. Every Auxiliarist is a member of a local flotilla. Each flotilla is
headed by a Flotilla Commander (FC).
Division - For maximum administrative effectiveness in carrying out Auxiliary
programs, Flotillas in the same general geographic area are grouped into
divisions. The division provides administrative, training and supervisory
support to Flotillas and promotes district policy. Each division is headed by a
Division Commander (DCR), and Division Vice Commander (DVCR) and usually consists of
five or more Flotillas.
District/Region - Flotillas and divisions are organized in districts comparable
to the Coast Guard Districts and must be assigned the same district number. Some
Districts are further divided into regions. The District/Region provides
administrative and supervisory support to divisions, promotes policies of both
the district commander and national Auxiliary committee. All districts and
regions are governed by a District Commodore (DCO), District Vice Commodore (VCO),
and District Rear Commodore (RCO), under the guidance of the Coast Guard
District Commander. At this level, Coast Guard officers are assigned to oversee
and promote the Auxiliary programs.
National - The Auxiliary has national officers who are responsible, along with
the Commandant, for the administration and policy making for the entire
Auxiliary. These officers comprise the National Executive Committee (NEXCOM)
that is composed of the Chief Director of Auxiliary (an Active Duty officer),
National Commodore and the National Vice Commodores.
NEXCOM and National Staff: make up the Auxiliary Headquarters organization. The
Chief Director is a senior Coast Guard officer and directs the administration of
the Auxiliary on policies established by the Commandant. The overall supervision
of the Coast Guard Auxiliary is under the Assistant Commandant for Operations
(G-O), who reports directly to the Commandant. Auxiliarists are dedicated
civilians who believe strongly in the Coast Guard and its missions. A hearty
thank you is the only pay an Auxiliarist expects. Personally, they receive
tremendous satisfaction for a job well done. They have proven valiant throughout
the years and take the oath of membership seriously. They contribute
immeasurably to our Team Coast Guard efforts.
USCG Auxiliary North Star Flotilla
North Star Flotilla
was founded by Nick Butziger, the first Flotilla Commander, in 1972. Cdr. Jack
Curry, Director of Auxiliary First District told Nick it would take a year to
charter a new flotilla, and Nick told him we would be ready in 30 days. One
month later we were in the restaurant at Masthead Marina with an amazed Cdr.
Curry leading our Chartering Ceremony.
Original members were
mostly teachers, and we started our first PEC a week after becoming a flotilla.
Within three months after we were formed, our meeting place –the Masthead Marina
restaurant- was unavailable, and we were without a place to gather. The owner
of Masthead Marina donated a piece of land to us on the water, Gen. Bruce
Johnson donated funds, and all the members proceeded to build our headquarters,
with materials donated at cost from Berger lumber, Campenella and Cardi, Cay
Electric and many others.
We needed the
foundation dug so Nick called a backhoe operator and persuaded him to come dig
for free. In the next week forms were placed, again for free, and concreted was
poured. Nick did the surveying, and the next week all members came down to put
up floor, walls, roof trusses etc. That Saturday we had two boats out on patrol
while the rest of the members did the roofing. We finished all this before the
next meeting and never missed a beat.
In the 40 plus years
since, we have done countless safety patrols, towed in many stranded boats,
educated well over 1500 boaters, presented member classes and hands-on training,
stood watch at Boston Light, verified positions of hundreds of aids to
navigation, done regatta patrols, checked on bridge lights, done hundreds of
vessel safety checks, chart updating, attended planning meetings, work parties,
presented workshops at the District level, hosted Safe Boating Day events, and
stood watch at boat shows.
Fellowship is an
important cornerstone of the Auxiliary, and it is one we do not neglect. At our
25th anniversary dinner, the Division Captain said, “I usually have
to tell flotillas to take some time for fun, but North Star Flotilla invented
fun!” That may be true. We have had card parties, dance classes, dinner
theater, many Oktoberfests in costume with dancing and live music, seal watch,
hayrides with dinner and campfire. We even provided the entertainment at a
District Conference. On the water we have had rendezvous on Patience Island,
Potter Cove, East Bay Yacht Basin, Montauk, NY, and Block Island. We even had
one rendezvous where we had a surprise wedding! Bill and Nancy Mende got
married on our rendezvous to Block Island years ago. We hosted the Division on
several Changes of Watch at the historic Varnum Armory where we took them all on
a historic scavenger hunt and cut the cake with an antique sword. At our
monthly meetings we have cookouts, ice cream socials, chowder dinners, and Pot
In service, training,
fellowship and fun, we are proud to be members of this unique North Star