ISS3 2017

Reservist Magazine is the award-winning official publication of the United States Coast Guard Reserve. Quarterly issues include news and feature articles about the men and women who comprise America's premier national maritime safety and security

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 35 of 55

OMB continued to put out misinformation supporting the elimination. The assistant to the director of the OMB wrote a letter, quoted in the Navy Times of May 1971. Still clinging to the idea, he said "It was determined that conditions of general mobilization for conventional warfare or large scale sabotage in and around U.S. homeports are highly unlikely. If these conditions should occur, active CG forces, CG ready reserve forces other than the Selected Reserve [those on active duty, retirees, and inactive], Navy Reserve and active Navy forces would all be utilized in such an emergency." In reality, the Navy had no plans to take on any of the Reserve's duties. In fact, a month earlier, Vice Adm. Dick H. Guinn, Deputy CNO, had given testimony to the HASC, saying it was "virtually impossible to detail the size, structure and operation of those portions of the Selected Reserve functions which the Navy will perform." He also said there was no way to determine what the cost would be, since the Navy had no comparable unit on which to base its estimates. The units would need to be created to keep up the Coast Guard's port security responsibilities, and that would come at a cost. In May, the report from the HASC recommended against the elimination of the Reserve, citing little cost savings (only a cost transfer from the Coast Guard to the Navy), loss of national security, and a lapse in security expertise. Toward the end, the committee said it felt "compelled" to report that there were "acts of defiance of the will of Congress by [Volpe] upon instructions of the [OMB]. We refer specifically to the withholding of funds to permit the recruitment of members of the Selected Reserve…" They noted that Volpe had only released the recruiting funds once they told him he'd be required to appear before the HASC to explain "why he was defying congressional will." "He was caught red-handed deliberately trying to disobey a direct instruction by Congress," said Handy. "What excuse could he give, except perhaps, 'The Budget Bureau made me do it.'?" By August 1971, both the House and Senate had approved a 15,000 member SELRES, as well as a $25.9 million appropriation. They also recommended that a peacetime mission be found for the Reserve. Capt. Joe Weilert, head of the New York Reserve Officers Association, said in a letter to Handy in 1972, "The best wine, I'm told, is always saved for that last sparkling, meaningful toast. That you had decided to enter the Coast Guard Reserve has, indeed, redounded to the benefit of our service." Cheers, Captain Weilert. A Quiet e xit Amazingly, you won't find any of this story in Handy's official military records, and he appeared before two boards without making flag officer. He'd requested that none of his work or contacts be used to garner any rewards for himself. Handy quietly retired from the Coast Guard three years after the elimination fight, following the loss of his first wife to cancer. In the interviews for this story, his one constant request was that I include the names of the other officers. In almost every email I have, and in every interview I taped, Captain Handy remembered details of those who served with him. He regularly reminded me that he was not alone in saving the Reserve. "All our progress in getting an initial appropriation for the reserve and building it up, and fighting the elimination of the Reserve," said Handy, "all of those efforts were successful largely because of the organization of Coast Guard reservists in the ROA." But he was the leader who organized them – unofficially, of course. One other person he credits: his wife of the last 40 years, who I mentioned earlier in her other capacity as Handy's secretary. Shirley was one more person who volunteered her hard work on behalf of the Coast Guard Reserve. Shirley and Walt Handy had been a team for the last ten years of his civilian and military career. Two years after his retirement from the Coast Guard and the Treasury, Walter Handy realized he missed Shirley's calm, quiet presence in his life. They reconnected in 1978, and they've spent decades together taking on new projects, traveling and restoring their 1915 farmhouse. Hundreds of Handy's documents fill almost a dozen three- inch binders. Letters of appreciation from Secretaries, commandants, congressmen, fellow reservists, and heads of ROA chapters pour from these volumes. One letter from Adm. John McCubbin, Chief, Office of Reserve, reflected many sentiments: "I know that no man has scraped any harder for the Coast Guard or the Coast Guard Reserve." It's strange to me that none of the binders hold any formal Coast Guard recognition. After all, his work – his legacy – was all done as a citizen and a veteran. He acted as an unpaid, individual reservist, but with the knowledge of Coast Guard officials. Handy, as well as Kwekel, Weilert, Carson and other ROA officers, were all advocates for the Reserve. Good people, doing what needed to be done. They spoke up for their service when their service was not able to speak. Without these reservists, who would have communicated the need for the Coast Guard Reserve? Their actions, while not formally recognized, made a difference for every reservist who's served in the last 45 years. � 34 RESERVIST � Issue 3 • 2017

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Reservist - ISS3 2017