Coast Guard History

Frequently Asked Questions


How Many Coast Guardsmen Served During World War II?

Two hundred and fourteen thousand two hundred and thirty nine persons served in the Coast Guard during World War II.  That number included 12,846 women.  The Coast Guard lost a total of 1,917 persons during the war with 574 losing their life in action, "died of wounds" received in action, or perishing as a "Prisoner of War."

The service sustained its first casualties on 8 December 1941 when the Coast Guard-manned transport USS Leonard Wood was bombed by Japanese aircraft while it was tied up in Singapore.  One Coast Guardsman, captured by the Japanese at Corregidor, died as a prisoner of war (the only Coast Guard prisoner of war during either World War).  Almost 2,000 Coast Guardsmen were decorated, one receiving the Medal of Honor, six the Navy Cross, and one the Distinguished Service Cross.

Thousands of volunteers served in a number of other capacities.  "Approximately 125,000 Temporary Members of the Coast Guard Reserve were enrolled" in a program called the Coast Guard Temporary Reserve or "TR"--a program that remained distinct from the Coast Guard Auxiliary.  A reported 67,533 persons served in the Auxiliary during 1945 as did 6,827 civilians.

The personnel strength of the Coast Guard peaked in 1944.  Headquarters reported that as of 30 June, 1944, there were 9,874 commissioned officers, 3,291 warrant officers and 164,560 enlisted personnel serving in the regular and reserve (not including the Temporary Reserve or Auxiliary). 

Over the course of the war, the Coast Guard procured 16,131 draftees while 160,939 men and 11,868 women voluntarily enlisted. Over 7,500 men volunteered for commissioned service.  A total of 978 women earned their commissions.

*That number included 21 flag officers, five of whom had retired prior to the war and returned to active duty.

Sources:

U.S. Coast Guard.  "Annual Reports, 1942-1945."  Typescript copy, Historian's Office.

U. S. Coast Guard.  Historical Section.  Public Information Division.  The Coast Guard at War, Volume 25: Personnel.  Washington, DC: USCG, 1 May 1950, p. 19.

United States Coast Guard.  List of Regular and Reserve Commissioned and Warrant Officers on Active Duty in Order of Precedence and Temporary Members of the Reserve.  NAVCG 111. June 30, 1944.  Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1944.


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Last Modified 8/13/2012