This Day in Coast Guard History – April 30

Friday, April 30, 2010

1789-  President George Washington was inaugurated in New York City as the nation's first President.  His inauguration marked the beginning of U.S. Constitutional government.

1798-Congress established the Department of the Navy on this date in 1798.  Nevertheless, the United States Navy traces its origins to the Continental Navy, which the Continental Congress established on 13 October 1775 by authorizing the procurement, fitting out, manning, and dispatch of two armed vessels to cruise in search of munitions ships supplying the British Army in America.  In 1972 Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt authorized the recognition of 13 October 1775 as the Navy’s "official" birthday.  Happy Birthday U.S. Navy.

1818- Congress authorized use of "land and naval forces of the United States to compel any foreign ship to depart United States in all cases in which, by the laws of nations or the treaties of the United States, they ought not to remain within the United States." This was the basis of neutrality enforcement.

1832- All commissions of naval officers in Revenue Cutter Service were revoked. Vacancies were filled by promotion for the first time.

1875- The first Gold Life Saving Medal ever awarded was presented to Captain Lucien M. Clemens of the Life-Saving Service in Marblehead, Ohio.  He was captain of one of the first life saving stations on the Great Lakes.  Medals were also given to his brothers, Al and Hubbard.  They rescued six crew and a female cook from the sinking schooner Consuelo in an open rowboat.

1967- BM1 Edgar A. Culbertson gave his life attempting to rescue three boys in Duluth, Minnesota.  BM1 Culbertson, along with two other members of Station Duluth, volunteered to venture out on the North Pier at Duluth to rescue three boys who had been reported to be out on the pier during a severe storm.  Witnesses had seen a wave wash one of the boys away but two were apparently trapped near the lighthouse at the end of the pier.  Culbertson's Coast Guard Medal citation noted: "Lashing themselves together, the three men proceeded, with hand lanterns as the only illumination, to the end of the breakwater.  Despite the high waves, winds gusting to 40 knots, driving rain and 36 degree water, the rescue party diligently searched the breakwater and light but found no trace of the boys.  While returning to the beach a 20-foot wave swept Petty Officer CULBERTSON off his feet and hurled him up to and over the breakwater parapet into the sea.  Despite the strenuous efforts of his teammates, Petty Officer CULBERTSON perished in this gallant rescue attempt."  He was posthumously awarded the Coast Guard Medal.  The other two Coast Guardsmen, BM2 Richard R. Callahan, and FN Ronald C. Prei, were also awarded the Coast Guard Medal for their heroism.

(Source: USCG Historian’s Office)

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