Cornerstones Discussion Part 1

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Article written by Jason Kardos

Welcome to Cornerstones, a journey into understanding the roots and purpose of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary.  Our proud history and existence is rooted in our four Cornerstones and more importantly, our future depends on us maintaining the integrity of the four cornerstones with fortitude.

What are the four cornerstones of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary?

Recreational Boating Safety







Member Services


Operations and Marine Safety



Auxilarist James Chin spears a piece of litter along the Bayside shore-front. USCG Auxiliary Photo.


Commodore Vincent Pica II presents the Mets with a challenge coin during the Spirit Awards Ceremony. U.S. Coast Guard photos by Public Affairs Specialist 3rd Class Ali Flockerzi.












The development of cornerstones is critical to understanding the Auxiliary’s past, what we should be focusing on presently, and the impact they have on the future.

If the Auxiliary drifts away from these cornerstones and then it becomes epidemic it will end our very unique organization.  The end of the Auxiliary would be devastating for our nation, the boating public, and personally because I truly love the Auxiliary and it’s members.

In this first issue, I want to give you a sense of our roots as a National entity and speculate on some issues that will be explored in later issues.  First, let us explore why the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary exists?  The answer is Recreational Boating Safety!  A conversation between two men on a yacht, traveling from Los Angeles to Catalina Island in 1934 created the idea of the Auxiliary.  Malcolm Stuart Boylan and LT F.C. Pollard (both officers in the Pacific Writers’ Yacht Club) discussed the idea of a reserve component of the Coast Guard and later that year Boylan sent Pollard a letter.  A copy of Boylan’s letter made its way to Washington, and to the desk of CDR Russell Waesche who eventually became Commandant five years later.

The Coast Guard Reserve Act of 1939, passed on June 23 of that year, created an institution that was unique in the federal government.  It established a United States Coast Guard Reserve to be composed of citizens of the United States and its Territories and possessions who are owners (sole or in part) of motorboats or yachts.

The new Reserve had four broadly-defined purposes:

  • Safety to life at sea and upon the navigable waters.
  • The promotion of efficiency in the operation of motorboats and yachts.
  • A wider knowledge of, and better compliance with, the laws, rules, and regulations governing the operation and navigation of motorboats and yachts.
  • Facilitating certain operations of the Coast Guard.


This original USCG Reserves later morphed into the Auxiliary.  As I we explore the other cornerstones the history behind them will be revealed.  Members get many mutually advantageous perks and training that allow us to serve the public better and simultaneously grow ourselves personally and professionally.  These opportunities should be embraced and our growth comes from each other and the honor to serve alongside active duty and reservists.

The Coast Guard Auxiliary exists primarily to save lives by getting involved with the public through boating education, certificating, inspecting, and setting an example on the waters, since the smallest branch of the military, the US Coast Guard has those missions along with maritime law enforcement and military missions.

I have become aware that there is a growing tendency in our ranks to see the purpose of their membership is to satisfy other agendas beyond our cornerstones.  I have observed and interacted with members and have taken note of several personal agendas to include the following:

  • A growing number of members who desire military service (or local responder services) that were rejected or not qualified to serve.
  • A desire to enjoy the uniform and the recognition it brings.
  • A goal to morph the Auxiliary so the public’s perception is indistinguishable from the active duty and reserve components of the Coast Guard.
  • A desire to perform as emergency responders and access the Coast Guard’s connection to FEMA through the Department of Homeland Security.
  • A desire to supplement local Incident Command Systems while maintaining an implied federal umbrella.


The scope of the Auxiliary is to aid Coast Guard operations.  Our members can provide some great additional perks and benefits to our community.  If a member’s goal is only self-serving, then they are in the wrong volunteer organization.  If the number of agenda driven members increases too much then it will drive away those who desire to serve the general boating public and the primary mission of the Auxiliary will perish followed shortly by its dissolution.

With the advent of many other competing non-uniform organizations such as the Power Squadron, the Auxiliary members must understand that competition may lead to dissolution if we do not perform our primary role in recreational boating safety better, more efficiently, more professionally, and more thoroughly.

I look forward to continuing this discussion in future articles.  Put boating safety first and we will explore all our Cornerstones together!

Semper Paratus Fellow Guardians!


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