In addition to assisting Coast Guard members and units through scholarships, tragedy assistance grants, and morale and other projects, the Coast Guard Foundation celebrates the Coast Guard through tribute events that take place annually across the country. These events highlight Coast Guard missions while honoring individual acts of heroism and the Coast Guard’s importance as a whole.
Unfortunately, the continuing pandemic forced the cancellation of many tributes in 2020 and this year. This required the Foundation to find new ways to showcase the Coast Guard’s service and thank members for their service. Like many the Foundation went online for a solution, and the result was the Heroes of the Coast Guard Virtual Event, which was broadcast to its webpage and social media on the Coast Guard’s birthday, Aug. 4.
Viewers from all over the United States as well as international locations across Europe, to South Korea and Taiwan tuned in to watch thrilling Coast Guard rescues and emergency response operations, and hear from Coast Guard members and leaders.
The evening kicked off with a special welcome from actor, author, and Armed Forces advocate Gary Sinise who said, “Your attendance tonight supports our Nation’s Coast Guard members who serve and protect local communities, enable American security and prosperity, and preserve our maritime environment.” “They are at once our neighbors, our lifesavers and our protectors,” he continued. “They are truly Semper Paratus, Always Ready.”
The program then highlighted a wide range of Coast Guard missions including exciting rescues, hurricane responses, and the Coast Guard’s efforts to bring home more than 320,000 passengers and crew who were stranded on cruise ships at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz gave an overview of the Coast Guard’s missions around the globe including the daring rescue of more than 30 from a fishing vessel in the North Atlantic, high seas drug busts from the Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma, and the seizure of thousands of missiles, assault rifles and machine guns by the Coast Guard’s Advanced Interdiction Team deployed on a U.S. Navy ship in North Arabian Sea.
Schultz also thanked the Coast Guard Foundation and its donors for their assistance to Coast Guard members, which he said fills many critical gaps in government support. “Awarding scholarships, supporting health and wellness, and providing disaster relief assistance demonstrates that the Coast Guard Foundation truly cares,” said Schultz.
“In caring for our individual Coast Guardsmen and teams, they care about our service. And they care about national security. The care of the CG Foundation allows our members to concentrate on the mission,” he continued.
Tom Allegretti, Coast Guard Foundation Chairman, thanked the evening’s sponsors for their support and highlighted a new annual corporate sponsor program. Annual corporate sponsors for 2021 include Lockheed Martin and Cheniere Energy. Event sponsors included Trident Seafood, Conoco Phillips, Ceres Terminals, and the St. Francis Yacht Club.
Coast Guard Foundation President Susan Ludwig explained the theme for the event, Even Heroes Need Heroes. “Not everyone can rescue somebody by dropping out of a helicopter or boarding a submarine in open water to seize tons of illegal drugs,” she said. “You might be asking yourself, “What can I do?” You can stand by the Coast Guard; you too can be a hero. By supporting the Coast Guard Foundation you enable us to assist the men and women of the Coast Guard which makes a profound difference in their ability to fulfill their call of duty,” she continued.
The full program is available below and on the Coast Guard Foundation’s YouTube channel.