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The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, established by Congress in 1939 to assist the U.S. Coast Guard with all missions except military operations and law enforcement, is composed of more than 32,000 volunteers worldwide. Its traditional role has been promoting recreational boating safety through public education courses, assisting with search and rescue missions, conducting marine safety patrols on lakes and rivers, supporting regattas and marine events, and offering free vessel safety checks for recreational boaters as well as commercial vessels. Before members of the auxiliary can inspect a boat, a detailed instruction course is required. The course must be repeated every three years.
In 1962, eighty avid Arkansan boaters, primarily from two boat clubs in the Little Rock (Pulaski County) metropolitan area, provided the impetus for the auxiliary being established in Arkansas. Conversations began with auxiliary members from Memphis, Tennessee, where an active U.S. Coast Guard base was located. To bring the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary to Arkansas, Memphis auxiliarist J. D. Tennyson drove to Little Rock every weekend for eight weeks to conduct the required training sessions.
Two Arkansas flotillas were chartered as part of Division Eight. An auxiliary in Arkansas being such a unique idea, members employed a gimmick to jumpstart the interest of Arkansas boaters. John Allen of Little Rock, the first division commander, suggested a treasure hunt—something no other auxiliary had tried. Merchants donated prizes, the auxiliary laid out a course from land to an island on Lake Ouachita, and the boaters were turned loose—but only after fulfilling the entrance requirement that each boat had to be inspected.
Arkansas was given its own division on October 15, 1968—Division 15 after the formation of flotillas. As of 2013, Division 15 comprises: Flotilla 15-03 in Memphis, established on July 13, 1961; Flotilla 15-07 in Hot Springs (Garland County), established on May 24, 1969; Flotilla 15-05 in Fort Smith (Sebastian County), established on December 21, 1970; Flotilla 15-08 in Central Arkansas, established on July 7, 1980—includes a Monroe, Louisiana, detachment established in 2010; and Flotilla 15-06 at Lake Dardanelle, established on February 8, 2003.
In May 1967, the National Convention of U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliaries was held in Hot Springs, the first time the organization had met at an inland site.
For additional information:Gurney, Gene. The United States Coast Guard: A Pictorial History. New York: Crown Publishers Inc., 1973.
U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. http://www.cgaux.org/ (accessed April 29, 2013).
Bob DonaldsonU.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary
Last Updated 8/6/2013
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