US Coast Guard celebrate 224 years of service

14 Aug 2014 | Lance Cpl. Mark Watola

Coastguardsmen from across North Carolina came together to celebrate 224 years of service during the Coast Guard Ball at Marston Pavilion aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Aug. 8.

Congress created a small fleet of cutters known as the Revenue Cutter Service Aug. 4, 1790, the official Coast Guard birthday. The Revenue Cutter Service enforced federal tariff laws, intercepted contraband and suppressed piracy.

In 1915, Congress merged the Revenue Cutter Service and U.S. Life-Saving Service forming what is now known today as the United States Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard continues their mission to defend the U.S. and save lives at sea.

“Nearly 200 coastguardsmen from approximately 20 units attended the ball,” said Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Melanie Bradley, Coast Guard ball committee member and New Orleans, Louisiana native. “The junior and senior coastguardsmen get to spend time and connect on a more personal level.”

Coastguardsmen came from all over the state, to include Wilmington, Fort Macon, Emerald Isle, and Wrightsville Beach.

The event is special because units from all over North Carolina came together to enjoy each other’s company, said Coast Guard Capt. John Riffe, commanding officer for the Coast Guard Special Mission Training Center located in Courthouse Bay.

“We came together to celebrate our rich history and tradition,” said Riffe, a Tuscaloosa, Alabama native. “I enjoyed the fellowship and company of other coastguardsmen of all ranks and units.”

To continue the tradition of the ball, a formal toast showed appreciation every branch of service and was followed by dinner. Afterward the birthday cake was cut and served to the youngest and oldest coastguardsmen in attendance.

“The Coast Guard is the oldest life-saving service in America, and the ball brings us together to celebrate our honor, time and tradition,” said Ian B. Stockmon, Machinery Technician 3rd Class at Station Fort Macon and Ledyard, Connecticut native. “We celebrated what we signed up to do – save people.”