Next Presentation 

The Lexington Veterans’ Association under the auspices of the Friends of the COA will present their monthly program on Monday, Dec 10, 2018, at 1:15P.M., in the lower level meeting room at the Cary Memorial Library. 1875 Massachusetts Avenue. Open free to the public, come and enjoy coffee and refreshments along with friends and fellow veterans at 12:45 P.M. followed by our program at 1:15P.M.

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"Peacetime Missions of the US Coast Guard"

Commander John Cole, United States Coast Guard 

Commander John Cole, clearly remembers his first experience in a search and rescue operation.  It was 1989, he was a newly-minted Petty Officer, and the motor vessel Star of Alexandria was only able to send a single SOS via Morse code.  Shortly after, her 652-foot frame cracked in two and sank to the bottom of the Atlantic with 25 people on board.

Commander Cole will relate the successful efforts of five Coast Guard and Navy search planes along with Coast Guard and civilian ships to locate and rescue 23 survivors of this tragic sinking.  He will also describe the vast number of peacetime roles of the Coast Guard, including port and waterway security, drug interdiction, migrant interdiction, marine safety, and marine environmental protection.  

“Search and rescue is one of the Coast Guard’s oldest missions,” explains Commander Cole.  “And we are good at it.”  During Hurricane Katrina, for example, the Coast Guard saved more than 33,500 lives.

Next to search and rescue, port and waterway security are the Coast Guard’s primary homeland security mission.  This involves counter-terrorism preparedness and terrorist response operations.  The Coast Guard is the nation’s first line of defense against drug smugglers, accounting for more than half of all US government seizures of cocaine each year.

Another Coast Guard mission dates back to the sinking of the Titanic after colliding with an iceberg in 1912 when the Coast Guard assumed responsibility for observation, monitoring and patrol of the iceberg-laden Atlantic.  Since then there has not been a single iceberg-related shipping catastrophe.  

The Coast Guard is the only agency with both the authority and capability to enforce national and international law on the high seas.  Coast Guard vessels are deployed around the globe and work closely with the Navy.  

The Coast Guard’s origins date back to August 4, 1790 when the US Congress approved the formation of the Revenue-Marine to combat smugglers and enforce tariffs.  Originally under the Department of the Treasury, the Coast Guard moved to the Department Homeland Security after the World Trade Center bombing.

Commander Cole joined the Coast Guard in 1984. He has served on a cutter in the Bering Sea enforcing laws and treaties; worked in communications in search and rescue operations; managed a recreational boating operation; and managed a nationwide network infrastructure for computers and IT systems.  He is currently the Executive Officer of the Coast Guard Base here in Boston.