This is how the Coast Guard got its stripes

This famous logo first came to life during the early 1960s when there was an urgent need to identify the rescue and law enforcement service to other boaters and military craft, air and sea. During WWII, Coast Guard Cutters were painted like other warships but carried the letter “W” in front of their hull number to distinguish from the US Navy. The iconography as we know it was ordered and adopted by President John F. Kennedy, and the service has never looked back.

The icon of the US Coast Guard is emulated by other similar organizations and agencies around the globe in some fashion, especially the diagonal design of the stripes.

That feeling when you first realize that all Coast Guard assets have diagonal stripes… (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Fireman Taylor Bacon)

See Also: 5 differences between the Navy and Coast Guard

There is a profound difference in the color scheme of the two logos, even including the additional wording, “Auxiliary.” Both logos embody the same mindset and core mission values. The US Coast Guard Auxiliary is an integral part of operations for the service, providing tremendous benefit to the public in areas of boating safety, inspections, and training.

Where did the Auxiliary get its start? Congress passed a law on June 19, 1941 that restructured the Coast Guard Reserve. From then on, the service was directed to operate two reserve forces. The already-existing civilian reserve organization was renamed the US Coast Guard Auxiliary. The newly structured US Coast Guard Reserve was to function on a military basis, providing an important resource of wartime capabilities, very similar to the duties of the other armed services.

The iconic Coast Guard stripes. Imagery from US Coast Guard.

The iconic Coast Guard stripes. Imagery from US Coast Guard.

The next time you see one of these dedicated professionals at a boat show, at a marina, on patrol, at a training seminars, or performing safety inspections, please remember: without them, the waterways we enjoy for recreational boating would be much different and complex.

More: The complete hater’s guide to the US Coast Guard

Coupled with the Power Squadron, other boating safety organizations, and license training institutions, they expertly provide essential, and sometimes underappreciated, assistance. Boating safety is not complete with a one-time educational event, but is a full-time endeavor.