UNITED STATES COAST GUARD -- (House of Representatives - September 21, 2005)
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Mr. FILNER. Mr. Speaker, today I am pleased to join my colleagues: the Gentleman from Massachusetts, Mr. Delahunt; the Gentleman from New Jersey, Mr. LoBiondo; the Gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. Coble; and the Gentleman from Mississippi, Mr. Taylor, to pay tribute to the U.S. Coast Guard. Let me also add a personal note to the Distinguished Gentleman from Mississippi, (Mr. Taylor) to express my deepest concerns for him and his family after the tragic events of Hurricane Katrina.
Mr. Speaker, as the Ranking Democrat on the Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, I have the privilege of working closely with our men and women who bravely serve in the Coast Guard.
Mr. Speaker, on Friday September 16th, I had the privilege of joining my subcommittee's Chairman, Mr. LoBiondo, on a tour of New Orleans and the disaster area impacted by Hurricane Katrina. Mr. LoBiondo and I came together, put aside our political differences, and focused all of our attention on the needs of the Coast Guard. Even before we toured the Gulf Coast, Mr. LoBiondo and I, along with Chairman Young and Ranking Member Oberstar, added language to the Coast Guard and Maritime Authorization Act to honor and commend the Coast Guard for their valiant work in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
During our visit, we had the opportunity to listen to crew members, pilots, and other Coast Guard personnel describe to us the horrific and tragic events that happened in the days following the hurricane.
Upon the announcement that a category 5 hurricane was on a path for the Gulf Coast region, the Coast Guard acted diligently to activate a plan of redeploying their forces and resources so that they could be on the ground operating as soon as the path of the storm had cleared.
The Coast Guard's plan exceeded expectations, and because of their resolve to respond to the country's needs, the Coast Guard was operational and in-place allowing the very first air rescue to take place within two hours of the hurricane passing the region.
The numbers speak for themselves: since Katrina hit the Gulf Coast the Coast Guard has saved or evacuated 33,500 people. One helicopter crew rescued 150 during a single shift!
Mr. Speaker, with incredible resolve and expertise, the U.S. Coast Guard brought order and infrastructure to the unstable region. Because of their strategic planning, training, and leadership the Coast Guard was able to implement and carry forth a plan of action that saved lives.
Before, during, and after the events of Hurricane Katrina the Coast Guard clearly showed the nation that their motto, Semper Paratus--Always Ready, is very well-earned.
In addition to exceptional performance in the Gulf Coast, the Coast Guard continues to serve our nation across the seas and borders of U.S. waters. On a daily basis, the Coast Guard is intercepting drug smugglers, monitoring illegal immigration, and rescuing hundreds lost at sea.
In recent years, the Coast Guard has been charged with some very difficult tasks. Since being moved to the Department of Homeland Security, their role has grown and expanded. To date, they have met many challenges, and exceeded every expectation.
Mr. Speaker, it is my hope that my colleagues will join me in honoring the service men and women of the Coast Guard. They are the ones who foresaw the dangers that threaten our soil and they are the ones that responded.
Let us never forget, that all of our service members, regardless of department, serve our nation bravely. They volunteer, without hesitation, and I join all Americans in gratitude for their service.
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