This Day in Coast Guard History – March 17
1863- The cutter Agassiz defended the Union-held Fort Anderson at New Bern, North Carolina, from a Confederate attack.
1902- All but one of the members of the crew of the Monomoy (Massachusetts) Life-Saving Station perished during the attempted rescue of the crew of the wrecked coal barge Wadena during a terrible winter gale. The dead included the keeper of the station, Marshall N. Eldridge, and six of his surfmen. Eldridge told his crew before they departed on the rescue that: "We must go, there is a distress flag in the rigging." The crew of five from the barge also perished. The sole survivor, Seth L. Ellis, was the number one surfman of the Monomoy station. He was awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal as was the man who rescued him, Captain Elmer Mayo of the barge Fitzpatrick.
1915- It was just before dawn March 17, 1915, when the three-masted schooner Silvia C. Hall was wrecked on the Outer Banks of North Carolina and earned herself a permanent place in Coast Guard history. Only 48 days had passed since the U.S. Life Saving Service and the Revenue Cutter Service had merged January 28 to form the U.S. Coast Guard. The rescue of the survivors of the ill-fated Silvia C. Hall by the crew of the Coast Guard Station Cape Lookout crew, under the command of Keeper Fred Gillikin, was the new service’s first major rescue.
1941- CGC Cayuga left Boston with the South Greenland Survey Expedition on board to locate airfields, seaplane bases, radio and meteorological stations, and aids to navigation in Greenland. This was the beginning of the Coast Guard's preeminent role in Greenland during World War II.
1962- After requesting the evacuation of a seriously injured crewman, the Russian merchant vessel Dbitelny transferred the patient to the Coast Guard LORAN station on St. Paul Island in the Bering Sea. Meanwhile, a Coast Guard aircraft flew a US Navy doctor and a hospital corpsman there to perform an emergency operation. Afterwards, the injured man was flown to Elmendorf Air Force Base, where he was admitted to the U.S. Air Force hospital.
1982- Navy Secretary John Lehman testified before Congress on behalf of the Coast Guard. He characterized the relationship between the Navy and the Coast Guard as being "close and warm." He also praised the new NAVGARD Board, created in November 1980, to formalize the relationship between the two services.
1986-Paramount Pictures began filming the movie "Critical Condition" on Governors Island. The film starred Richard Pryor. Filming continued on the Island until 21 March 1986.
(Source: USCG Historian’s Office)