Famous Animals that served in and with the U.S. Coast Guard
Since mankind first took to the seas thousands of years ago early seafarers brought along members of the animal kingdom with them on board their ships. The animals were brought along for many reasons--a source of food, to fight rodent infestations, to search for food on distant shores or for companionship. Coast Guard crews have followed this ancient custom and adopted numerous varieties of mammals and birds, among others, as mascots and brought them along on their voyages. Many times these animals were actually enlisted in the service, complete with service and medical records, uniforms, and their own bunks. Here they were promoted for exemplary performance or were sent before a captain's mast to receive punishment from the skipper for some transgression or another and were "busted" back down to seaman. Many actually saw combat against the enemy, some were wounded, some died, and many were decorated. Quite a few even lived to a ripe old age and enjoyed a well-earned retirement ashore. Many of the shore units too adopted a mascot to help them around the station or when they ventured out on a patrol or a rescue. All Coast Guard mascots have served just as their human counterparts have, with courage, honor, and are "Always Ready" to go to those in need of assistance.
Here then is a sampling of some of those members of the animal kingdom who kept the crews of cutters and shore stations company, sharing in their hardships and dangers, and making life a little more tolerable just by being aboard.
(click on the thumb-nail image)
|Original photograph caption (if any) and description.|
|Sinbad, the Coast Guard's most famous mascot. He was adopted by a crewman from the cutter Campbell prior to World War II. He was so beloved by the crew that they actually enlisted him in the Coast Guard. Sinbad served faithfully through thick and thin, surviving combat with the Germans and Japanese, causing a few international incidents with his antics, and even having a book written about him! Here he is at his battle station on board the Campbell, ready to take aim at a German U-boat!|
Maggie, short for Magellan, is the mascot aboard the Coast Guard
Cutter Spar. Here she stands watch aboard the bridge
of the cutter while departing Womens Bay near Kodiak, Alaska, May 8,
2013. The Spar was underway to work buoys in the vicinity
of Kodiak Island.
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ashley Sloan.
Here is another photo of Magellan, known as "Maggie" to her friends.
She's shown here
with her best friend of 13 years, LCDR Michele Schallip. LCDR
Schallip commanded the cutter Spar with Maggie's assistance.
Magellan has served with LCDR Schallip for her entire career!
(Our thanks to Spar's junior officer, ENS Paul Milliken for introducing us to Maggie.)
Here Maggie takes a well deserved break while she's off duty.
Working on a Coast Guard buoy tender is very hard work, especially
in the waters off the coast of Alaska where the cutter Spar
Maggie is a permanent Cutterman with over five years of sea duty!
Maggie walks the decks of her cutter.
Click here for a more detailed story about Maggie, written by Coast Guard Public Affairs Specialist Third Class Jonathan Klingenberg.
A pig on a cutter? Yes, that's Samantha, and she saw combat
service on board the USCGC Point Glover
Click here for more information on Samantha.
|Here we have Breaker,
mascot of Coast Guard Station Fort Macon in Atlantic Beach, North
Carolina, who has been serving the crew since June 2002. Breaker is
a Black Lab and Border Collie Mix. Breaker was brought to Station
Fort Macon after being orphaned and the sole survivor of his family;
his five siblings and mother all died from Parvo. The school
children know him by name because he is one of the most popular
attractions during field trips to the Station. His medical care
comes from the Army veterinarians at MCAS Cherry Point.
|Here's another photo of
Breaker! His shipmates let us know that, for Breaker:
"A typical day for the 5 year
old consists of watching out for new comers (he seems to have a
distaste for Mustang Officers [these are commissioned officers who
first joined the Coast Guard as enlisted persons]), basking in the
sun, scoping the area for dog treats, and taking the occasional run
or swim on the beach with the other crew members. He has been a part
of the Coast Guard family since he was 7 weeks old and has provided
the crew with a source of entertainment and relaxation.
And another photo of Breaker -- it seems Breaker doesn't like boats though:
"He very seldom gets underway on
the boats because of an accident he had when he was 9 months old, in
which he fell in between the boat and the pier one day. But he is
always there to see us off and can be counted on to be standing
watch while waiting for our return. He has pretty much free run of
the base and has most of the units trained on what type of treats he
likes, as he makes his daily rounds each day. He was promoted all
the way up to BM2, but lost a rank when he chased a raccoon over 2
miles down the beach and we had to send the GV out at 5 in the
morning to find him to bring him back to the Station."
|Here is CBuoy, the mascot
of Coast Guard Station Destin, Florida. They let us know that:
"Our station mascot is a AKC registered yellow lab named CBUOY but everyone calls him buoy. He was donated to the station as a puppy in June of 2002. He's a pretty famous dog in the local community, he's been in the paper several times. He had a torn ACL when he was a year old and the community started donating money and toys to him. At the current time he has his own morale checking account which is all donated funds from the community. We regularly conduct tours of the station for different children's groups and one of the things they love to see most is buoy jumping in the water to rescue Oscar. Buoy stays up with communication watch stander and provides security by making rounds of the station hourly."
|Here we have Red Dog, the mascot of the famous Alaskan cutter Storis, which was in service longer than any other ship in the Coast Guard!|
|Turk is a full blooded
Golden Retriever and has been with Coast Guard Station Elizabeth
City since 1996. So far he has achieved the rank of BMC (Chief
Boatswain's Mate -- he's a Chief Petty Officer, one of the highest
enlisted ranks!). Turk is considered to be a vital part of the
crew at the station. He is taken care of through a military
veterinarian, as well as the crew. His favorite past times are
sleeping, playing with his Cong toy, chasing birds, and
Here is BMC Turk standing watch.
Our thanks to Sara Powell for letting us know about Turk!
|Here we have Spike, the mascot of Coast Guard Station Willmette, visiting PSU 309 in Port Clinton, Ohio. Spike served as the mascot for Station Willmette from the fall of 1992 to the spring of 1994.|
|Here is Spike getting
ready for action!
Spike retired from active duty and is now 14 years old and living with Lieutenant John Jacob.
Good luck, Spike!
|A more recent Coast Guard
mascot: Uri, the canine member of Coast Guard Station Calumet
Harbor, sometime in the late 1990s, out on patrol. See Chicago
in the background! Note that he is careful enough to wear his
lifejacket, which is also known as a personal floatation device
Our thanks to BMC Christopher Runt for letting us know about Uri.
|BMC Christopher Runt, the
First Lieutenant on board the Coast Guard Cutter Shamal, sent
us this photo of his cutter's mascot, a camel named Shamal.
Chief Runt let us know that:
"Our mascot is a camel named Shamal (rhymes with camel). In this picture he is on a bale of marijuana [that we seized]. If you notice, the bale has 'Product of Columbia' on it. We thought that was ironic."
|The mascot at Coast Guard Station Honolulu from March 2003 until April 2004 was "Seaman Muttley."|
|Here we have Bear, the now-retired mascot of Coast Guard Station Kenosha, who served there from 1990 to 2000. Bear is a pure-bred Chocolate Labrador Retriever. BMC Chad Curth told us that Bear "was transferred from his kennel to Station Kenosha PCS on 4 June 1990 as a puppy. He loved to ride the Station's boats and even rode on the back of the Station's jetski. Kenosha's school children knew him by name because he was one of the most popular attractions at their yearly field trips to the Station. His medical care came from the Army veterinarians at the Great Lakes Vet Treatment Facility at Great Lakes Naval Training Center."|
|Here's Bear patrolling
the beach in front of the Kenosha Pierhead Lighthouse on a stormy
day. Chief Curth noted that Bear "retired from Active
Duty on 13 October 2000. He is still alive and will turn 14
this year . He lives on a government pension (in the
form of my paycheck, he lives with me and my wife). .
.he is as good a Coast Guard dog as I've known."
So Bear is enjoying his well-earned retirement after serving his country. Thanks for letting us know about Bear, Chief Curth!
|Here is Niki, a Husky puppy and mascot of the cutter Cape Carter (WPB-95309) in January, 1990.|
|Here is Bud, a Black
Labrador Retriever, posing for the camera. Bud was a mascot of
Coast Guard Group Moriches in the 1990s.
Thanks to BMC Mike Flannery for letting us know about Bud.
|Another photo of Bud. He served for eight years at Group Moriches. A former crewmate of Bud's, Mike Flannery, told us that he was "donated as a pup from a crewmember enroute to a ship and just couldn't keep him. Bud was an active member at Group Moriches until he was diagnosed with cancer and passed away at the age of 8. I guess you could say he died on active duty."|
|Here is Sam, a member of
Coast Guard Station Scituate, in Massachusetts, just waking up from
a nap in the sun sometime in 1990.
A former crewmate, Rick Pearce, noted that Sam was "brought there as a stray sometime in the mid 70's by someone who was stationed there. I was stationed there from 1987-1990. At that time Sam was about 12-13 years old. Sam would wander around the station during the day, making sure everyone was staying busy. At night he would sleep in the radio room and keep us company on radio watch during the graveyard shift. Whenever we got a call and sounded the SAR (search and rescue) alarm, Sam would run upstairs to the rooms where everyone slept and run up and down the hall, barking to wake everyone up (as if that alarm wouldn't!). On nice days he would get underway with us and ride on the bow, as far forward as he could. He preferred the 41-footer to the 44, and I can't say I blame him. I am told in his younger years he would go on all the calls, but I guess age had caught up with him and he just wasn't up to it every time. But when he did go, he was the happiest Coastie on the boat!"
Thanks to Rick Pearce for letting us know about Sam!
|Here we have Maximillian
Talisman, Service Number 224-859, a pure-bred Boxer, who was a
remarkable Coast Guardsman. He had a stellar career in which
he was promoted to the rank of Chief Boatswain's Mate and served at
sea on board a cutter for seven years (that's 42 human years)!
He had enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1950 only three months after
he was born. The photo's original caption read:
"Donald R. Haight, BM1 displays retirement orders of his old shipmate, Maxmillian Talisman, BMC/Dog. Max is retiring from active duty after some seven years aboard the Coast Guard Cutter KLAMATH. He will spend his time now at the home of BM1 Haight in Seattle. The 'chief' seems to be getting in some practice for those lazy retirement days ahead."
|BMC Maximillian Talisman
meets his replacement. The original photo caption read:
"'I'll take care of this new seaman, boys' is what BMC Maxmillian Talisman seems to be saying here. The pup is the new mascot on board the Coast Guard cutter KLAMATH and is relieving Max who retires with more than seven years afloat. All of his time was spent on the KLAMATH."
|Here Max is "piped off" his cutter for the final time with full naval honors. During his seven-year Coast Guard career, Max never received a mark of less than 3.4 out of a total of 4.0 on his service record and never received a mark below 4.0 for conduct! He did well on his standard test scores, qualified as a bridge-lookout, crossed the International Date Line twice and the Arctic Circle once, and earned the United Nations Medal, Korean Service Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal!|
|Here we have a mascot of
the Revenue Cutter Thetis, somewhere up in Alaska in
1913. We don't know his name but we do know that by the time
this photo was taken, he had served continuously at sea for 10 years
-- making him the saltiest sailor-mascot to have served in the Coast
The Revenue Cutter Service was the forerunner of today's Coast Guard.
|Probably the largest
mascot that ever served in the Coast Guard. Here is an unnamed
black bear, another mascot of the cutter Thetis, taking a
break from duty. He's cooling himself off by resting on a
large piece of ice.
The Thetis served in Alaska waters, sailing on the Bering Sea Patrol.
|Here is the mascot of the
Coast Guard icebreaker Northwind. Thanks to retired
Coast Guard Lieutenant Jerry L. Echols, we know his name!
Lieutenant Echols wrote:
"That dog is 'Oliver.' He was born aboard Northwind, in Greenland. His mother 'Dagmar' was the ship's dog before Oliver. I only had the pleasure of sailing with him for one Arctic patrol. He retired to an Oregon farm, in early 1954, when life at sea became a little to hard on him. He was relieved by 'Rosie.'"
Oliver sure looks outfitted for a trek through the arctic!
Thanks for letting us know about Oliver, Lieutenant Echols!
|Unfortunately we don't know the name of this mascot of the Coast Guard Cutter Northland. The photo was taken sometime in the 1930s. Note his unique uniform and studded collar!|
|Here is Skunk, the mascot of the Coast Guard icebreaker Eastwind, sometime in 1947, standing watch. Note his properly fitting "dixie cup" hat!|
|Here is the mascot for a cutter somewhere up in Alaska. It's an eagle! We're not sure how the crew managed to keep the winged predator on board.|
|The Thetis crewmembers get the award for having the most mascots of the greatest variety! Here are two shipmates, an unnamed cat and dog, taking a break from duty somewhere up in Alaskan waters. They seem to be getting along well.|
|An unnamed dog is making sure that the cat is not shirking its duty.|
|Here, Mars III on the left, and Muggins, the feline to the right, sharing space on board a cutter sometime in the 1920s.|
|Buccaneer, on patrol somewhere in Alaskan waters, enjoys a mid-day meal of canned shrimp.|
|Cats seem to have been the more popular mascot for the cutters serving in Alaska! Here's an unnamed young fellow making sure this commander is keeping a steady course.|
|The crew of the cutter Perry pose for the camera with their mascot, a very well-dressed goat with appropriate rank insignia and good conduct stripes.|
|A penguin joins the crew
of the Coast Guard icebreaker Eastwind during Operation Deep
Freeze I. The annual voyages to Antarctica were named
"Operation Deep Freeze" for obvious reasons.
According to one of the Eastwind's crew, who shall remain anonymous: "this one penguin kept hanging out with various Eastwind crewmembers while they were ashore. They originally painted a bow tie around his neck and button on his chest in grease (the penguin happily complied). The penguin then wiped the bow tie away by turning his head (hence the smudge in the picture). They then painted USCG on its stomach. He apparently loved it, and held a higher place in the penguin flock because of it."
|The photo's original caption stated: "Speak, boy -- Coast Guardsman Raymond A. Wiascinski, engineman second class (right), and Seaman David E. Aikens try to coax friend Charlie into singing for part of his supper at Los Angeles Harbor Light. Charlie, a junior-sized California harbor seal, has been adopted by the station-keepers as their unofficial mascot."; 4 February 1966.|
|"Chief Midgett clipping mascot dog at Coast Guard Lifeboat Station Chicamacomico [ North Carolina ]."; 15 June 1952.|
Click here to see mascots that served in the Coast Guard in World War II.