Reservist

ISS2 2018

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

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equipment at each station and created flexibility in staffing and planning that had not existed before. In 1872, Kimball and the Treasury Department commissioned standard wooden surfboats to be deployed across the stations, which is where the letter fits in to the story. The letter is from the Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, co-signed by Sumner Kimball and addressed to Faunce and Capt. James H. Merryman. Faunce, a significant part of Coast Guard history, had been the commanding officer of the Harriet Lane when it fired the first maritime shot of the Civil War. Merryman went on to oversee the construction of life-saving stations. The letter directs the two captains to Squam, N.H., to inspect and accept one of these newly-constructed, standardized surfboats. As a result of his work, Kimball was chosen as the general superintendent of the Life-Saving Service in 1878, and he served in that capacity for the entire existence of the LSS, until it merged with the Revenue Marine to become the U.S. Coast Guard in 1915. What Kimball did was amazing, even by modern standards. He created the Coast Guard that we know today though modernization, merger and change. He combined distinct services with very different cultures into a single organization. The missions of the Life-Saving Service and the Revenue Marine are still distinct in the modern Coast Guard—surf stations conduct very different missions than the sea- going cutters. However, Kimball's greatest success was the merging of the culture of the people within the service – whether a surfman or a cutterman, every person in the Coast Guard carries the cultural legacies of both these services. From the Revenue Marine is the military professional, representing a seagoing, warfighting and law enforcement tradition founded in 1790. From the Life-Saving Service is our humanitarian spirit, a voluntarist tradition of others before self, developed by coastal communities that relied on each other to survive storms. It was the merger of these dissimilar traditions that created the unique service identity of a United States Coast Guardsman. Kimball retired in 1915. His work was done. He died, quietly, eight years later. His legacy lives on through standardization of equipment and training. Coast Guard cutters and small boat stations practice continually to respond to those in need. Readiness inspections of field units today are conducted similarly to those made by Faunce and Merryman in 1871. We continue to check for the same fundamentals, the training of the crews and the condition of the equipment. The Coast Guard motto "Always Ready" is ensured by the organizational focus of standardization instituted by Kimball so many years ago. As I reflect on this letter, and this small souvenir of the Coast Guard past, I continue to be in awe of the work of these people. Their work stewarded the service through the end of a devastating civil war to the beginning of a world war. They could not have known how valuable their work was at the time. Kimball was not operational. He was an administrator, and his work was pivotal. The letter proves that working behind the scenes is honorable and important, and it challenges us to reimagine what our contribution will be in this time of rapid technological and societal change. This letter makes me optimistic about the future of our service and our ability to collectively respond to a changing world. For that reason, buying this letter was some of the best money I ever spent. � U.S. Life-Saving Service hat. Coast Guard Collection Letter co-signed by Kimball directing members to inspect surf-boats in late1872 (note the initials "S.K." in the top left corner). This letter was obtained by the author during a search for Coast Guard history. Photo courtesy of Lt. Brendan Rogers Issue 2 • 2018 � RESERVIST 27

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