CAPT Eleanor L’Ecuyer

2018-6-21 L'Ecuyer

Frustrated by her clerical work as a civilian in 1944, Eleanor C. L’Ecuyer volunteered to join the Coast Guard in Boston, in the midst of her workday at Boston Edison Company.

“I went for a walk at the suggestion of my boss and came back a member of the Coast Guard,” she said beaming, some seven decades later.

L’Ecuyer, 90, served as a pharmacist’s mate at Coast Guard Air Station Port Angeles, Wash., until her discharge in 1946. While many women made their personal marks upon the Coast Guard, L’Ecuyer, an articulate gal with a sharp wit, forever impacted policies and increased opportunities for women serving in the Coast Guard.

Following her discharge after the war, L’Ecuyer returned to Boston, activating her G.I. Bill benefits and earning a law degree at Suffolk University. But finding employment as a female attorney proved challenging against the backdrop of 1950. Marriage and birthrates were increasing in post-war America. A postage stamp cost $.03, a dozen eggs $.65, the average household income was $3, 216 and the average home cost $14, 500. While nearly one million women entered the workforce each year, most found employment in the clerical field.

A few months passed while the venerable L’Ecuyer took a slew of physical exams. Ironically, on Apr. 1, 1951, she received two letters bearing good news.

“First I learned I’d passed the Coast Guard test,” she said. “Later that day, I learned I’d passed the Massachusetts Bar.”

Ensign L’Ecuyer was told she’d received a commission, but women could not attend Officer Candidate School. “Eventually, someone realized I was a lawyer, and I was promoted to lieutenant junior grade,” she said.

Assigned to Washington, D.C., she became the first female attorney hired by the United States Coast Guard, though she did not directly serve in that role. Her legal training would serve her – and future generations of female Coasties – very well. She wrote successful challenges to several policies that would increase career potential for women in the Coast Guard. One was her determination that being pregnant was not a disabling condition and therefore, should not be grounds for discharging women. Another was that couples should be allowed to co-locate. Another challenge she filed questioned the policy limiting women to serving only 20 years.

“After that one, the commandant asked if I had any other paperwork I might want to follow,” said L’Ecuyer, smiling.

She served until 1971, rising to the rank of captain – the highest rank a woman could achieve at the time. She also holds the distinction of being the longest serving SPAR. Yet, when asked if she realized how her determinations had impacted future generations, she turned reflective.

“It was the right thing to do, and the time had come” she said. “I put my law degree to good use.”

We honor you, Eleanor L’Ecuyer.

(#Repost @Coast Guard Compass)

CDR Janna Lambine

2018-5-10 Lambine

In the majority of cases, to be the first at something requires a courage, tenacity, and initiative of unusual strength. This can certainly be said of Janna Lambine. As the Coast Guard’s first woman pilot, her actions set an important precedent for women in the military and the workforce. When Lambine attended the Coast Guard Officer Candidate School in Yorktown, Virginia in the 1970’s  women were just being integrated into the organization. Public pressures for female inclusion as well as lobbying from women within the organization like Vivien Crea (who would later become a Coast Guard Vice Admiral) contributed in turning the tide toward the acceptance of women in the aviation field. Admiral James Gracey, Commandant of the Coast Guard, was on their side too, believing that 51 percent of America’s population should no longer be prevented from contributing whatever talents they might have to the field of aviation.

For Lambine, who had applied for flight training while in OCS, the call that would change her life came abruptly.  Vivien Crea, who had also applied for aviation training and would be right behind Lambine as the second woman to enter flight school, recalled a phone conversation which was likely similar to the one Lambine received; “I suddenly got this frantic phone call while up at the Coast Guard Academy, ‘Get your physical updated; women are going to be considered this time!’”

Consequently, Lambine graduated from Naval Aviation Training at the Whiting Field Naval Air Station in Milton, Florida on March 4, 1977 and her first assignment was piloting helicopters at Air Station Astoria in Oregon. There, her duties included flying search and rescue missions and pollution/fisheries surveillance. She retired as a Commander from the Coast Guard Reserve in 2000.

Lambine’s initial steps through the barrier separating the sexes in the field of Coast Guard aviation has been followed by many outstanding women aviators who, while forging their own paths, continue to set an example for the women who follow in their footsteps.

We honor you, Janna Lambine .

(#Repost @FlyGirls)

SM 1 Douglas Albert Munro

2018-4-20 Munro

Of the 3,498 Medal of Honor recipients in American history, only one was from the U.S. Coast Guard: Signalman 1st Class Douglas Albert Munro. On this day 74 years ago, Munro sacrificed himself at the Matanikau River at Point Cruz in Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, while saving hundreds of his fellow service members.

In recognition, Munro was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his “extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry in action above and beyond the call of duty.” Munro remains the only member of the Coast Guard to earn this distinction.

Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Munro grew up in South Cle Elum, Washington. He enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1939. Upon hearing that the Coast Guard had been ordered to man transport vessels in the Pacific during World War II, Munro pleaded with his executive officer to allow him to transfer to this mission. He was eventually successful and was assigned to transport duty supporting Marine landings at Guadalcanal during the Solomon Islands campaign.

On Sept. 27, 1942, nearly 500 Marines were tasked with crossing the Matanikau River at Point Cruz at Guadalcanal. However, the Marines faced imminent danger at the hands of a larger and more heavily armed than anticipated Japanese force.

Munro volunteered to lead the evacuation mission as the Marines were pinned in a vulnerable position by advancing Japanese forces. Munro led a group of small boats charged with protecting 24 Higgins landing craft that were attempting to extract the Marines.

As machine gun fire from the land continued, Munro positioned his Coast Guard craft between the Japanese and the Higgins boats to provide cover for the evacuation. Armed with only two small guns on his plywood boat, Munro successfully held off the Japanese attack, enabling nearly 500 Marines, including 25 wounded, to escape.

As the last Marines were safely under way and while turning back to rescue a grounded Higgins boat, Munro was fatally wounded. Still thinking of those Marines he was charged to protect, his final words were: “Did they get off?”

Munro exemplified the honor, valor, and patriotism that United States Coast Guard service men and women display in defending our nation’s waters. In honoring Munro, we recognize the Coast Guard’s vital role in protecting America’s maritime security.

Munro embodied the Coast Guard’s motto, semper paratus (“always ready”), in his heroic, decisive actions in Guadalcanal. Recognizing the crucial security the Coast Guard provides our nation, Congress and the president should strive to ensure this sea service remains always ready.

We honor you, Douglas Munro.

(#Repost @the Daily Signal)

CAPT Beverly Kelley

2018-4-1 Kelley

As a LTJG, Beverly Kelley became the first woman to command a Coast Guard cutter, the CGC Cape Newhagen, in April 1979. Two years earlier, the Coast Guard had experimented with assigning women to sea-going ships. The high-endurance Coast Guard cutters Morgenthau and Gallatin received 10 enlisted women and two female officers each.

Kelley was one of those officers. According to Coast Guard historical documents, a great deal of opposition accompanied the trial run—including concern from the wives of men aboard the ships. Some seamen reportedly even commented, There goes the neighborhood.”

The crews of the two cutters were briefed on appropriate conduct on a coeducational vessel and families informed about shipboard modifications to accomodate women and men working and living together. Just as had been the case when the Coast Guard set up its first racially integrated ships’ companies during World War II, the “mixed crews” quietly settled into a working routine and went about their business with little commotion.

Captain Alan Breed, commanding officer of the Gallatin, acknowledged a year later that some of his male crewmembers had experienced “apprehensions, reservations, concerns, and, in some cases, frustrations” when they were told that women would be joining the ship, but he asserted that “there have been no major problems to date … . Today, I doubt that there are over two or three who retain such hardcore opposition.”

When Kelley, who now holds the rank of Captain, took command of the Newhagen, the 14-man crew adjusted gracefully. Twenty years later, she made history again as the first female to command a Coast Guard medium-endurance cutter, the CGC Northland. She told the press, “I’ve punched all the tickets that my male counterparts would have to, to be the commanding officer…”

We honor you, Beverly Kelley.

(#Repost @Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media)

BM1 Edgar A. Culbertson

2018-1-29 Culbertson

Born on October 13,1935, Edgar Culbertson left Lincoln High School in November 1952 to join the Coast Guard. He served on active military duty for 14 years. From 1952 to 1956, and 1958-1967 he was on active duty, and from 1956 to 1958 he was on reserve service. In early 1960, Edgar reenlisted in the United States Coast Guard and was stationed in Duluth, Minnesota.

It was during Edgar’s second enlistment period that tragedy struck. On April 30, 1967 during a major storm, he and two other guardsmen volunteered to go out and search for 3 missing brothers that were seen on a pier and it was reported that one of the brothers disappeared. During the search, a wave caught and swept Edgar off the pier. Edgar, at the age of 32, died in the rescue effort, and the three missing brothers’ bodies have never been found. Edgar A. Culbertson was posthumously awarded the Coast Guard medal for his bravery in the rescue attempt.

Edgar A. Culbertson during his service had received the National Defense Service medal with 1 bronze service star, the United Nations Service medal, the Korean Service medal, the Coast Guard Good Conduct with 2 bronze service star in 1956 and 1961, the Coast Guard Unit Commendation ribbon, and the Coast Guard medal.

We honor you, Edgar Culbertson.

(#Repost @Ferndale Historical Society)

 

PO2 Olivia J Hooker

2018-1-27 Hooker

On Nov. 23, 1942, legislation approved the implementation of the United States Coast Guard Women’s Reserve; the program known as SPAR – the acronym derived from the translations of the Coast Guard’s motto, ‘Semper Paratus, Always Ready’ – became the foundation for women in the Coast Guard today.

In February 1945, Olivia Hooker became one of the first African-American females admitted into the United States Coast Guard when she joined the service during World War II.

On March 9, 1945, Hooker headed to boot camp. She recalled waking up at 5 a.m. every day and exercising one hour before she ate. After breakfast, she and her shipmates had to polish the floors and accomplish any other chores required of them. The SPARs had to attend class and pass exams. Basic training was held in Manhattan Beach, N.Y., and lasted six weeks.

While Hooker was one of only five African American females to first enlist in the SPAR program, she never felt discouraged in her duties because of her color. Once, an admiral addressed Hooker in person and told her to come to him if she ever had problems. Hooker said that she was very glad to have made that kind of connection in the military.

Upon graduation from basic training, Hooker specialized in the yeoman rate and remained at the training center in Manhattan Beach for nine more weeks. Once she completed yeoman training, Hooker spent her entire service time stationed in Boston. Hooker worked in the separation center, typing discharges and doing paperwork.

In June 1946, the SPAR program was disbanded and Hooker earned the rank of petty officer 2nd class as well as a Good Conduct Award. Hooker said she was one of the last yeomen left in the office and she had to type up her own discharge.

Hooker went on to earn her master’s degree in psychological services from Teachers College at Columbia University, then received her doctorate as a school psychologist from the University of Rochester. Working as a professor in New York, Hooker had a remarkable career, finally retiring when she was 87 years old.

“I would like to see more of us realizing that our country needs us,” said Hooker. “I’d like to see more girls consider spending some time in the military. It’s a good idea to have people from different kinds of orientations and experiences because it’s amazing what you can do with a different point of view. The world would really prosper from more of that.”

Hooker’s long and unforgettable life gave her an appreciation for her fellow man and a dedication to her country. The impression she has left on our society and the amazing contributions she has made will never be forgotten.

We honor you, Olivia Hooker.

(#Repost @US Coast Guard)