National Commodores (NACO)
John B. Stone
John B. Stone was elected national commodore at the
annual meeting of the National Board on September 20, 21, 1968, to serve
from 1969 through 1970. Hailing from Los Angeles, Stone was
elected while serving as Immediate Past Commodore of the 11th Coast
Under Stone's leadership, the U. S. Naval Institute published AUXOP
Specialty Course guides, among them Patrols, Weather, and Piloting.
A new Boating Safety and Seamanship course was also initiated (available
in the spring of 1971); as was a new sail course. The Membership
Growth Program got underway. Also during his term, the Auxiliary
worked with Sears Roebuck Company in issuing a Hunter-Fisherman
catalogue that contained an Auxiliary insert (hunters and fisherman,
historically, have comprised a high percentage of drowning deaths while
boating). At the end of his term, Stone was pleased to note the
increased interest in the Auxiliary produced by the Public Affairs
Department, as well as the increased efforts of women members as
reported by the Women's Advisory Committee. [Navigator,
September-October 1968, p. 5; ibid., October-December 1970, p. 2
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Grover A. Miller, Jr.
Grover A. Miller was born in 1923, to a navy commander
and his wife when they were posted to Manila, the Philippines. As
a youth, growing up in the islands, Miller began to pilot a motor
whaleboat at age six. Eventually he acquired a small fleet that
included a 21-foot cabin cruiser he built himself and a 36-foot Chris
Craft. Miller earned a degree in industrial design from Stanford
University and he and his family resided in San Francisco, where he
headed a large Oldsmobile-Cadillac dealership and a leasing corporation.
Miller enrolled in the Auxiliary in 1955, after he and his wife, Susan,
took a PE course. He earned instructor, examiner, communications,
and operations qualifications. He served in almost every office
and became one of the youngest national commodores at age forty-four.
In the 1960s, Miller became chief of staff to Ellsworth Weinberg.
Weinberg and he reorganized the national staff and improved the
Auxiliary's image. Miller designed the present Auxiliary ensign
with a white slash, which replaced the insignia on a navy background.
The previous ensign too much resembled yacht club and other boat flags.
Burgees for officers were also introduced. During Miller's tenure
the "stars and bars" cuff insignia were replaced with the current Coast
Guard silver stripe/collar insignia set. A new uniform system was
also introduced. These dress standards held until 1975 when the
current uniforms came into use.
During the 1970s Miller went into his own business, inventing and
marketing new tools and other developments. In his last years he
suffered from cancer. Miller passed away on October 22, 1996, in
Sacramento, California. He was survived by one daughter and two
sons, of his original five children. [Navigator, Summer
1997, p. 2; ibid., January-February 1967, p. 2]
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Elsworth A. Weinberg
Ellsworth Weinberg came from the legal profession and
first joined the Auxiliary in 1957. He was born in West Virginia
and received degrees from the University of Baltimore and Southern
Methodist University. In Dallas where he died on December 7, 1986,
he was a nationally known attorney. Weinberg quickly rose through
the ranks of Auxiliary offices, holding virtually every one, including
numerous staff officer positions. He earned his AUXOP designation
the same year he joined. He was elected national commodore in
1965. After two terms, he served as legal officer for the 8th CG
District and as National Legal officer, holding that position until he
died. For the 50th Anniversary of the Auxiliary he also published
The Volunteers a short history of the Coast Guard Auxiliary
during World War II.
In 1984, Weinberg received the "C" award of Administrative Merit and was
awarded the Michelob Schooner boating award at the eastern area
conference in 1986. He had also been a member of the U. S. Power
Squadron. During World War II, Weinberg had served four years in the
South West Pacific Theater in the U. S. Navy.
He was survived by his wife, Caroline, at the time of his death. [Navigator,
Spring 1987, p. 7]
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Homer L. Byers
Homer L. Byers outlined the accomplishments of the
Auxiliary during the previous five years in his opening message to
members, published in the September 1962 issue of the Navigator.
There had been: 1) a 50 percent increase in membership, along with a
clearing out of "deadwood" members; 2) PE students had tripled; 3) CMEs
had increased 500%. "During 1957, Auxiliarists were instrumental
in saving 42 lives; in 1961 there were 200 lives saved." He noted
that in spite of this excellent record, the Auxiliary was only touching
a small portion of the 35-40 million Americans who were participating in
boating. Later he would note that Auxiliary units operated in
every major boating area in the country.
In this and future messages, Byers stated that the
Auxiliary was "big business" and the leadership must think big in terms
of long range planning, setting large goals, even suggesting the
organization realize a membership of 100,000. But big goals can
only be accomplished through: planning, organizing, and controlling.
The vast expansion of the early '60s was going to require that the
Auxiliary take charge of more of its own functions. As part of
this administrative expansion in 1964, the National Board voted to
increase the number of national staff officers from six to eight.
The Auxiliary also adopted "parallel staffing" to align unit functions
with those of the Coast Guard to ensure improved communications and
But Byers was not just a dreamer. He set down
practical targets. In February 1963, he called on each flotilla to
recruit, on average, 200 students to their courses, which would bring
total enrollment nationwide to more than 150,000. In carrying out
plans, Byers emphasized the need for planning, follow through, and
balanced programs. The National Staff exists to support the
Districts in their functions. For instance the national Public
Instruction officer, along with his committee, would advise on: course
materials to be used and techniques to be employed; how to set up TV
programs for public instruction; and on member training. Equal weight
should be given to PE and MT.
Regarding vessel examinations, Byers's goal was to see
that every member became qualified, as the need was so great.
States had taken over boat numbering registration, so it became
important for CME officers to liaise with state representatives.
Describing operations as "still in its infancy, but
growing fast," Byers recognized its potential by appointing the first
national operations officer. He established separate committees
that were responsible for: surface, air, and radio communications.
These three branch programs would be integrated and coordinated on a
national basis, also for the first time. A member operational
guide was promulgated, with an accompanying requirement that trainees
demonstrate abilities in personnel retrieval and towing. He noted
that in July 1963, 155 lives had been saved to date in that year, but
wondered if the crews had been sufficiently recognized. Every
member's talents and skills must be optimally employed and rewarded.
Finally, Byers emphasized the importance of the fourth
Auxiliary cornerstone: fellowship. He suggested that Auxiliarists
be more inclusive and broaden their "boating brotherhood" beyond small
circles of friends. The newly elected NAVCO Charles Levitan
advocated the development of a speakers' bureau to publicize the
Auxiliary. Promotion of Auxiliary programs, particularly National
Safe Boating Week, through liaison with other boating groups and
government agencies was stressed. As an example at the 1962
national conference, the Federal Communications Commission's chief
engineer noted the Auxiliary's role in advising the public about its
requirements through its public education program.
During Byers's tenure, Auxiliary membership and programs
continued to grow at a rapid pace, ultimately reaching a membership of
30,000 and 16,000 surface facilities in 1970, 50- and 30% increases,
respectively, from 1960.
From reading his exhortations to members, it's clear that
Homer Byers had a strong sense of purpose that likely resulted from his
Midwest upbringing in Anderson, Indiana and his personnel business
background. His traits also clearly played a role for in his NAVCO
biography he was described as "a tall, slim, energetic fellow, well
indoctrinated in Auxiliary purposes."
Byers was born in Moundsville, West Virginia in 1903.
At age eighteen he moved to New York City from Indiana and five years
later to San Francisco. In 1948 he relocated to Palo Alto where he
resided permanently with his wife, Virginia, and two children. At
the time of his election as NACO, Byers held the professional position
of Administration Personnel Supervisor in the General Administration
Office of the Pacific Telephone Company. Boating was the main
recreation of the family; hobbies included rock collecting, geology,
camping, and fishing.
As Byers rose through the ranks of the Auxiliary from
District Commodore of the 12th, to NAVCO in Woodward's second year, to
NACO, he found he had less and less time to devote to operations or
family cruises. In acknowledging remarks following his election as
NAVCO, Byers thanked the Board. He felt very honored and would
serve as best he could. This honor, however, was tempered by a
dose of regret, "When I first was elected a District Commodore I
discovered that I couldn't use my boat very much. I should have
been told to put it on the beach for the duration. I don't know
what I will have to give up for the coming year, but it will be done
gladly as I give my allegiance to all the Districts. I will have
to think on broader terms. I will be gaining many new friends and
meeting what I think are the nicest people you can find anywhere, the
Presently there is no known date of death for Byers.
[Navigator, October 1961, p. 7, September 1962, pp. 3, 5, 7; February
1963, p. 3, October 1963, p. 3, January 1964, p. 3, April 1964, p. 3,
July 1964, p. 6]
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Bliss Woodward entered office as a 20-year Auxiliary
member and past commodore of the 3rd District, having been first elected
to that office in 1955. He was active in Long Island boating
circles out of Mamaroneck, an example being his participation in the
1959 predicted log-cruise navigation test race. His vessel was
named Hel 'N Bliss, for him and his wife. The N.Y.-N.J.-L.I.-Ct.
region was one of the most important boating areas in the nation with
more than 62,000 registered motor boats and the second largest Auxiliary
membership of 1,736. Like other Districts, members greatly
increased their activities during the 1950s. In the 3rd, CMEs had
increased from 2,806 in 1951 to 5,028 in 1954, the year before Woodward
was elected DCO. When CMEs were first extended to outboard-engined
cabin cruisers in 1955, Woodward and DIRAUX Capt. Lloyd Albin, USCG,
were featured in a New York Times photograph overseeing the examination
of a 21-foot Olympia, powered by a 25 hp Evinrude outboard engine.
As NAVCO to Charles Greanoff, Woodward managed the 1959
National Safe Boating Week activities. He put together a coalition
of boating, safety, and youth organizations, including the Power
Squadron, the Outboard Boating Club of America, the Red Cross, marine
dealers, and the Boy Scouts, among others, which staged events across
the nation. In Atlanta members featured safe boating films at
local theaters; St. Louis organizations embarked on a 200-boat parade.
At the time NSBW was only a year old, having been first proclaimed by
Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1958.
Woodward held the office of NACO at a time when the
Auxiliary was expanding exponentially and fast becoming a powerful
national organization. Although boating had grown considerably
during the postwar era, boosts were given during the 1960s by: the
introduction of inexpensive fiberglass boats; the addition of thousands
of miles of waterways through the construction of hundreds of federal
reservoir and dam lakes, especially in the West; the postwar migration
to California and Florida by new residents and tourists.
By 1960, Auxiliary membership had grown from about 13,000
during the '50s to nearly 20,000 in 1960. The number of facilities
grew by an estimated 400 per year. Yet patrols increased from 840
in 1960 to an estimated 10,000 over the next five years.
During his tenure Woodward expanded on the previous work
of John Tanner and Charles Greanoff, supporting cornerstone missions, as
well as new programs such as the "Academy Activity Week" (later
formalized as the Academy Introduction Program or AIM); and National
Safe Boating Week. His national staff comprised: a National
Educational Research Officer, National Secretary-Treasurer, National
Publications Officer, and National Public Instruction Officer. In
January 1962, at the beginning of his second year in office, Woodward
complimented members on their accomplishments of the previous year, but
urged them to "redouble" their efforts.
Woodward particularly stressed the need for Districts to
expand their public education programs, the March 1962 Navigator
. . . .we find that many Districts participate only
nominally in this phase of Auxiliary activity. Many Divisions have
overlooked this program to the point that no public instruction courses
are offered, and of the entire membership, not one member has been
certified as an instructor. An examination of our public
instruction effort reveals that one District has contributed
approximately 50% of the national effort in this field. In fact,
we have the anomaly on one Division in this District doing more than
The editorial went on to encourage every member to
participate in public education and every District to surpass the
performance of the current lead one. Due to this emphasis the
attendance in PE classes more than doubled by the fall of 1962.
Woodward and team had also gotten the boating safety course recognized
at six state universities.
As a corollary the Auxiliary issued revised instruction
manuals: the "Basic Seamanship Course" booklet doubled in length and
accompanying 35 mm slides were made available; the "Practical Course on
Outboard Handling," was expanded by one-third and included colored
diagrams and charts. The first aid manual recommended by the
Educational Research Committee in 1960 was published in 1962; leaders
hoped it could be used as a standard reference by boaters and a training
aid for members.
A revised, expanded Vessel Examination manual (CG-289)
was issued that outlined a 5-lesson training course for examiners.
In 1961, 750,000 "Seal of Safety" booklets were distributed that
described CME requirements. Woodward and the Board also moved to
improve and standardize the Auxiliary communications program due to a
number of factors. Boaters were utilizing both Citizen Band (C.
B.) and VHF radios and Auxiliary ham radio operators wanted to be folded
into the communications network. Patrol reports had found that
during the previous season "the Auxiliary made better use of their radio
equipped facilities during the various patrols. . . ," suggesting it
would pay to have technical training for crews. These
circumstances led the National Board to establish a National
Communications Committee. Its goals were: to develop a national
communications program, along with proper training; set minimum
standards of quality and reliability for radio facilities; make better
use of ham radio facilities and inform members how to properly train in
use of C. B. and VHF radios, and employ the latter (C. B. radios were
not advised for Auxiliary use).
Perhaps Woodward's most outstanding single achievement
was the first publication of the Auxiliary's national magazine, the
Navigator that commenced in 1961. Previously Auxiliary columns had
been run in national boating magazines, but no member publication was
available. The first issues featured the Auxiliary emblem on a
Navy background in the top section of the front page with the title in
white lettering. The bottom part contained a cover photo on a
white background. Initially issues were less than ten pages in
During 1960-62, the Auxiliary also moved to create
alliances with other boating and federal organizations. Woodward
appointed a national liaison to the U. S. Power Squadron in 1961.
The Auxiliary was apprised of the work of "Advisory Panel of State
Officials of the Merchant Marine Council, U. S. Coast Guard," in
standardizing the waterways marking system of the United States.
In 1962, the Auxiliary signed an agreement with the National Coast and
Geodetic Survey and National Ocean Service to assist in chart updating,
a program that continues to this day.
Also in 1962, the Commandant gave his approval to an
official Auxiliary song composed by Division captain, J. J. Drexler of
the Third District. An Auxiliary ring design was also approved by
the National Board. 1n 1962, the National Board proclaimed June
23, "Coast Guard Auxiliary Day." Woodward began the tradition of
employing celebrities to help publicize the Auxiliary, having appointed
the television star Preston Foster, an honorary commodore.
For his "conscientious work and outstanding leadership"
as evidenced by the "smooth functioning and noteworthy accomplishments"
during his period in office, NACO Woodward was awarded the Certificate
of Merit (B) Award by Vice Adm. E. J. Roland, acting commandant.
At the end of his term, Woodward specifically noted how valuable his
experience as a national staff member had been and vowed to continue his
activities in the Auxiliary. In 1968, Woodward served on
Mamaroneck, New York's safe harbor committee formed to serve the needs
of the community's growing boater population. In 1969, the
commandant appointed him to the Coast Guard's Merchant Marine Council.
Bliss Woodward was able to garner considerable publicity
for the Auxiliary and himself as District and National Commodore, not
only because Auxiliary member Charles Grutzner was a New York Times
reporter, but because of the Woodward family's prominence in New York
City affairs. His father Arthur Woodward, was originally from St.
Louis, but moved to New York where he owned a printing plant that later
became A. W. Advertising. His mother, Alma Newman Woodward, was
the company's treasurer and headed the copy department for many years.
Later she started her own company, Alma Woodward Products, and was a
feature writer for the New York Evening World.
During the 1920s and early 1930s, the Woodwards
participated in the social whirl of New York's upper crust, associating
with the Whitneys, Goulds, Fahnestocks*, and Joneses. Social
column notices feature Bliss as a gay blade, performing and assisting at
charity and debutante events organized by the youth set. In 1928,
Woodward married Emmie Lou Sperry whose father owned Sperry-Hutchinson,
the (S&H) green stamp retailing company.
The stock market crash and Depression, however,
devastated the family. Bliss himself filed for bankruptcy in 1932.
Two years later, his father suffered a stroke, and although suicide was
not hinted in the press, one morning he fell or jumped out of the
twelfth floor window of the Beverly Hotel where the family resided.
By 1935, Bliss Woodward had become president of the advertising firm and
married a second time to Helen Marshall of Joplin, Missouri, a graduate
of Julliard School of Music and a violin soloist. In 1955, he was
named vice president of Waters and Associates, another advertising
Given the family's social prominence, most likely
Woodward came out of Mamaroneck yachting clubs during the 1930s and may
have been a charter Auxiliary member. There are presently no known
dates of birth or death.
* J. Sheridan and A. Bruce Fahnestock were the two Long Island brothers
who enrolled Gen. Douglas MacArthur's small boats and crews that served
in New Guinea and the Philippines during World War II; many Auxiliarists
signed on as civilian army contract employees with the Army's
Transportation Service, Small Ships Branch. See "MacArthur's Navy" in
text articles. The family owned a New York City investment company
that still exists and were personal friends of Pres. Franklin D.
[Navigator, January 1962, p. 2, March 1962, p. 1; September 1962, p. 5:
Tilley, op. cit., pp. 59, 77; The New York Times [utilizing The New York
Times's historic database]: various social columns 1920s, 1930s; 12
April 1932, bankruptcy notice, p. 36; 1 May 1934, death notice, p. 10;
17 October 1935, marriage notice, p. 27; "For Safe Boating," 1 May 1955,
p. X19; 22 May 1955, photograph, p. 216; "Elected Vice President of
Waters and Associates, 2 June 1955, p. 47; "Navigation Test Won by Du
Mont," 31 July 1955, p. 59; 26 April 1959, p. 511; "National Safe
Boating Week," 28 June 1959, p. 515; 11 July 1965, obit., Alma Woodward,
p. 68; "Mamaroneck: A Model of Community Progress in Supervising One of
the Sound's Biggest Harbors," 11 February 1968, p. B23; "Members Named
to Safety Panel," 23 January 1969, p. 41.]
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Charles S. Greanoff
Charles S. Greanoff was one of the persons most
responsible for turning the Auxiliary into the professional organization
it is today. As National Commodore, Greanoff traveled the country
to support the cornerstone missions of the Auxiliary. He oversaw
the activities of the first National Safe Boating Week in 1958; he put
the Academy Introduction Mission (AIM) program on a stronger footing;
and testifying at hearings held for the 1958 Federal Boating Act, he
helped persuade the Congress to leave boat registration to the states.
During his two terms of service he incorporated the national board and
raised the Auxiliary's level of professionalism.
During the next five decades, COMO Greanoff continued to accrue
thousands of hours of support each year for all the Coast Guard's
missions. As of 1995, he was still active as a qualified
communications watchstander and worked at the 9th District Auxiliary
Director's office. And then he began his third Coast Guard career.
In 1991, Greanoff was appointed assistant to the Ninth CG District
Family Programs Administrator. He was a key player in the
establishment of the fledgling Work Life program developed in D9.
In March 1993 COMO Greanoff was appointed the Ninth District Ombudsman
Coordinator, the first Ombudsman Coordinator position created in the
Coast Guard, working in that capacity until 2005. In this role,
Greanoff trained more than 150 district Ombudsmen at over fifty units
around the Great Lakes, providing guidance, training and support to
these important volunteers. An Ombudsman is a volunteer (who may
be a spouse, Reservist, or Auxiliarist) designated by a Command to serve
as a link between the command and service members' families.
His/her main responsibilities are to provide information on policies,
services and sources of assistance, and activities of interest to family
members, as well as locating resources for them. Greanoff held
this position until 2005.
In recognition of his consummate leadership and contributions to the
Coast Guard and the Auxiliary, in 2006, the Coast Guard created the COMO
Charles S. Greanoff Inspirational Leadership Award to be presented
annually to the most distinguished flotilla commander in the nation.
The first award was presented on April 17, 2006 in Washington, D.C.,
with Greanoff's son, Charles II, representing his father.
"Commodore Greanoff exemplified the Coast Guard ethos of service and
volunteerism," said Rear Adm. John E. Crowley, Jr., Commander of the
Ninth Coast Guard District. "He contributed immensely to the
future of the Coast Guard Auxiliary by selflessly training and mentoring
others who carry out their missions today. The Greanoff
Inspirational Leadership Award will ensure his legacy will continue to
impact our organization for years to
Charles S. Greanoff was born in Cleveland, Ohio on May 15, 1915.
He graduated from Lakewood High School in 1933 and earned a B. A. degree
in history from Baldwin Wallace College in 1936. Greanoff spent
his professional life in finance and business. He worked as an
accountant for the major consulting firms, Ernst & Ernst and Arthur
Young, and was executive vice-president of Gilmore Industries in the
1960s. He owned his own accounting firm, Greanoff & Company, until
At the outset of World War II Greanoff enlisted in the Army, but in 1943
after his brother was killed, he was discharged under the provisions of
the 'sole survivor' policy that allowed an only remaining son in a
family to be released from combat duty.* In response, Greanoff
immediately enrolled in the Coast Guard as a temporary reservist,
joining Flotilla 7-03, a port security unit at Cleveland, guarding their
waterside factories, bridges, docks, and shipping on the Great Lakes and
Cuyahoga River. His routine during the war was to work his day job
at the Ohio Crankshaft Company from 8 A.M. until 4 P.M., and then at his
flotilla from 8 P.M. until 1 or 2 A.M. in the morning. (TRs were
normally required to be on duty twenty-four hours a week during the
At the end of the war in 1945, Charles Greanoff married the former
Virginia Taylor who passed away in 1993. They raised a family of
four: two daughters and one son, remaining in his hometown of Lakewood,
During the postwar period Greanoff became an active member in a newly
established flotilla that consisted of many previous TRs. He was
Commander in 1950 and quickly rose through the ranks, holding the
position of Division Captain in 1953, then Ninth District Commodore in
1956-57. During the 1950s operations activity was limited, but
Greanoff's experience conducting search and rescue and attending joint
training exercises convinced him that Auxiliary programs had to be
active to have a healthy organization. His flotilla, early on,
adopted the new courtesy marine examination program. When elected
district commodore, Greanoff commissioned new flotillas and standardized
programs in the Ninth CG District.
Aside from his family, own business, and the Auxiliary Greanoff was also
very active in his college alumni association, serving as its president
in during the 1960s. He was admitted into the Baldwin Wallace
College Hall of Fame.
On April 3, 2007, COMO Greanoff passed away in Lakewood, Ohio, after a
63-year Auxiliary career.
[* In November 1942, the five sons "Albert, Francis, George, Joseph and
Madison" of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas F. Sullivan of Waterloo, Iowa, were
killed in action when their ship, the USS Juneau, was torpedoed off
Guadalcanal Island. To this date, these deaths represent the
largest known loss of life of service members in one American family in
U.S. history. In response, the US Army, and later the Navy, issued
"sole survivor" policies that allowed surviving sons and daughters to be
released from military service, under varying terms over time, to this
[Navigator, Summer 1994, p. 25, Fall 2006, p. 11; Coast Guard News, 6
April 2007; National Commodore's Webpage, April 2007; Information
contributed by, Charles S. Greanoff II, 3 July 2008]
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John Brent Tanner
John Brent Henshaw Tanner was one of the most colorful
and the youngest of the past national commodores. He had a
meteoric rise through the ranks of the Auxiliary. The first office
he held was operations officer of Flotilla 14 in San Diego after three
years membership, in 1951. He was elected Flotilla Commander the
next year and Division Captain in 1953. He served as District
Commodore of 11SR from 1955 and resigned during his second term to
assume the position of National Commodore at age thirty-six.
Tanner was active in operations on his 36-foot custom
marlin sport fisherman "Twin B." He next bought a retired Coast
Guard 83-footer on which he conducted fishing cruises with family and
friends. Locally he served as the treasurer of the Southwestern
Yacht Club of San Diego and into the 1990s continued fishing, his
favorite past time.
During Tanner's years as National Commodore, the
Auxiliary operations program expanded greatly, due to a number of social
and economic factors: the growth of suburbs and boating in the West;
pent up postwar consumer demand; the increased affluence of World War II
veterans; the baby/teenager boom; the popularity of water skiing.
For example between 1954 and '55, the number of regatta patrols
increased 35 percent to 314. To meet the needs of the growing
boating community, under Tanner's leadership, the 8-lesson boating
safety course was revised and new 3- and 1-lesson specialized courses
grew in attendance. As part of the national expansion of public
education, a National Auxiliary Training Corporation was established to
receive fees and text revenues from boating safety courses. Alaska
was reactivated as a district.
In July 1956, the U. S. House of Representatives
Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries, headed by Rep. Herbert C.
Bonner of North Carolina, undertook a comprehensive study of the state
of boating in the country and the laws that regulated it. During
their six months of hearings conducted in the Great Lakes region and on
both coasts and the Mississippi River, the Committee found that current
laws were inadequate to cut down on the 285 deaths and 640 casualties of
the previous year. For instance if a Coast Guard boat crew were to
witness a small overloaded vessel going out in bad weather with an
inebriated skipper, the officer in charge had no legal authority to halt
its operation, except to warn of dangers.
During the course of the hearings the congressmen heard
from among others, Coast Guard personnel, yacht club members, boating
magazine editors, and fifteen member of the Auxiliary who included NACO
John B. Tanner.
Tanner briefed the committee on the Courtesy Marine
Examination program, advising that in 1955, Auxiliary examiners had
check-listed 28, 417 boats, of which 6,743 owners had failed to
demonstrate they had the properly operating equipment required by
federal regulations. Rep. George Miller of California questioned
Mr. Miller: Were you inspecting them as the Coast
Guard Auxiliary and in the name of the Coast Guard, or were you doing it
on your own?
Mr. Tanner: In the name of the Coast Guard Auxiliary.
Mr. Miller: Without force of law?
Mr. Tanner: The auxiliary has no force of law whatsoever.
It is a courtesy examination made at the request of the boatowner.
The boatowner may refuse it and we take no records of this and our
records are not in the Coast Guard files. They are our files.
Mr. Miller: Tell me what happened to those 7,000 that were
Mr. Tanner: Two of them sank.
Mr. Miller: You had no force of law to make them correct the
conditions you might find, but do they voluntarily, in many cases, make
Mr. Tanner: About 60 percent, Mr. Chairman, come back for another
inspection and pass satisfactorily. When a boat passes
satisfactorily we issue them a decal. The decal means that that
boat is safer than the law requires. . . .
Mr. Miller: I think those figures should be very interesting to
show that for the most part boat people not only comply but attempt to
comply and I think that less than 10 percent of [non-]compliance is a
rather significant figure.
As part of the growing concern regarding boating
accidents, in 1956, at the direction of the Coast Guard, the Auxiliary
undertook to report boating accidents, known as the "Small Boat Casualty
Report" program. In describing this program to the Bonner
committee, Cmdt. Alfred C. Richmond stated that the Auxiliary was
well-suited to take up this task, as flotillas were situated in nearly
400 locations nationwide. "Many of these flotillas can provide
coverage in reporting where no Coast Guard installations exist.
This is particularly true in the interior of the country where boating
has become tremendously popular in recent years. . . .This is the first
'all hands' assignment for the Auxiliary and, if successful, can have
significant far reaching effects on the entire field of motorboat
In 1957, NACO Tanner received the coveted Ole Evinrude
Award, presented to the Auxiliary as a whole, for promoting boating
safety. In 1958, a new federal safe boating act was passed and the
Auxiliary became active in training on its provisions, including law
Beyond his "whirlwind" Auxiliary career, Tanner is most
notable for his cosmopolitan background and stunning, equally dynamic,
World War II service record. He was born in Montreal, Canada, on
September 2, 1919, to the former Alla Henshaw of San Francisco, a.k.a.,
Princess Jean Capecci-Zurlo of Villa Les Rochens, Cap Martin, France;
and John Brent McIlvaine Tanner of New Orleans and New York City, of a
socially prominent family. His parents moved to Europe where
Tanner received his early education in Paris, attended college at
Harrow-On-The-Hill in England and the University of Lausanne in
Switzerland, studying languages. He also learned to fly in
When World War II broke out in Europe in 1939, Tanner
joined the French Air Force and after the fall of France in the spring
of 1940, he switched to the Free French forces which were exiled to
Britain. Flying Spitfire fighters over the English Channel, Tanner
was shot down three times, bailing out twice. On the third
occasion he was seriously wounded, having received a direct hit from a
German Stukka dive bomber, and was pulled from the Channel. By the
time he recovered from his injuries in English and U. S. hospitals,
America had entered the war. In 1943, Staff Sgt. Tanner* joined
the Marine Corps, flying F4U Corsairs in the South Pacific for eighteen
months. His military career ended in 1945 in a naval dispensary,
where he had been shipped to be treated for malaria. One day he
fell out of his hospital bed. The Navy WAVE who picked him up was
Pharmacist Mate 3rd Cl. Bernadine O'Connor of Indiana whom he married on
December 12, 1945, and they had one daughter.
In 1954, Commodore Tanner was awarded the Auxiliary
Plaque of Merit (A) Award. His World War II military service
awards comprised: five Purple Hearts; the croix de guerre with palm; the
Distinguished Flying Cross; the Distinguished Service Order (DSO), a
United Kingdom Order of Chivalry to which officers are admitted for
gallantry and leadership in action, with the single rank of "Companion."
Commodore Tanner discontinued his membership in the
Auxiliary about 1980, continuing his residence in San Diego. In
his professional life, he had been in business in television sales and
service. There is no known date of death.
* The Los Angeles Times article announcing Tanner's
wedding listed his rank as that of a staff sergeant. But, normally
only officers are pilots. The Marine Corps, however, may have
immediately accepted Tanner as a pilot with the rank of sergeant, given
his past flying record, by-passing OCS training, or some similar
arrangement. On the other hand, The L. A. Times may have erred.
[Papers, John Brent Tanner, U. S. Coast Guard Auxiliary
O. W. Martin, Jr., National Records Collection, Special Collections,
Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, N. C.;
"Milestones," history.auxpa.org; Tilley, op. cit., pp. 69-70; "Coast
Guard Auxiliary Will Lend an Oar to Pilots," The New York Times, 31
March 1957, p. 50; Navigator, September 1962, p. 1; "John Brent Tanner
Marries," The Los Angeles Times, 12 December 1945, p. 35; "Orders of
Chivalry," The UK Honours System, http://www.honours.gov.uk/ honours/chivalry.aspx]
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J. Webb L. Sheehy
J. Webb L. Sheehy was born in Newcastle, Pennsylvania on
April 5, 1905. After obtaining degrees from Cornell University, he
settled in Rochester, New York where he was a practicing attorney for
sixty years and town justice for thirteen. Sheehy was a charter
member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, joining as a Reserve member on
December 11, 1939. Commanded by Lieutenant (j.g.) Sheehy, the
eighty-two members of Flotilla 301 were active guarding Rochester's
docks and waterfront facilities and performing many rescues during World
War II. Sheehy's facility, Neaga, was a 40-foot 1913
cruiser which remained in service more than forty-five years.
Sheehy was elected district commodore in 1954 from his position as rear
commodore-east. He became national commodore in 1955.
Sheehy continued his Auxiliary membership throughout the course of his
lifetime. In 1987, at age 82, he earned his coxswain
qualification. He also continued his activities in the community,
serving as a member of the Rochester Yacht Club, as commander of the
Rochester Power Squadron, and president of the New York State
Sheehy died on August 26, 1992. He was survived by his wife, Ruth,
one daughter and three grandchildren. [Navigator, Winter
1992, pp. 1-2.]
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Alexander S. Bauer
Alexander “Pete” S. Bauer was born on May 22, 1903, in
Philadelphia where he graduated from Central High School. He
earned both undergraduate and law degrees from the University of
Pennsylvania. As his life-time profession, he practiced law in
Philadelphia and suburban counties. He and his wife, Isabel, and
son lived in Wallingford.
For most of his life, Bauer was also a sailor. He was a member of
the Sailing Club of the Chesapeake and Philadelphia’s fleet captain of
the Corinthian club, a national association of sailors. During the
late 1940s, he crewed in the Bermuda and Halifax yacht races.
As Bauer used to tell his son, having been born on May 22, 1903, he was
too young for one war and too old for another. In 1941, when World
War II broke out, Bauer had the choice of taking a desk job as a lawyer
for the navy or joining the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Apparently
believing he could use his sailing skills more usefully than his
lawyering ones to help win the war, he chose the Auxiliary. He
qualified as a coxswain and was first assigned to a schooner which
monitored commercial traffic going in and out of the fish docks on the
Delaware River and Bay areas.
On July 20, 1942, after regulations changed to allow enrollment in the
Coast Guard Reserve on a part-time basis, Bauer signed up as a “TR”
member of Flotilla 32, Ocean City, New Jersey, putting in the required
24 hours a week as a volunteer; he became qualified in piloting and
navigation. Eventually he saw duty on two more vessels: a 65-foot
fire and ice tug boat and Florence V, an 80-foot yacht, retrofitted with
forward weapons and an underwater microphone used to pick up sounds of
German submarines. Florence V served as the backbone of Bauer’s
flotilla in the postwar years. The former wartime Auxiliarists
established the Florence V Foundation, under which they apparently ran
commercial charters and used the vessel to perform Auxiliary work as
well (see further World War II recollections below).
Pete Bauer was disenrolled as a World War II temporary Reservist as of
September 30, 1945, having successfully completed 1200 hours of active
duty service as a qualified Chief Boatswain’s Mate. He reverted to
Auxiliary status on July 23, 1945.
In 1952, Bauer was elected commodore of the 3rd Coast Guard District,
Southern Area (now the 5th Northern). The year before Bert Pouncey
had been elected as the first national commodore and the two worked
closely together. In 1953, Bauer succeeded Pouncey during the time
when the Auxiliary was being organized on a national basis, as were its
cornerstone missions. Bauer wrote that their first mission was to
convince the Coast Guard that the Auxiliary could assist them and they
were not competing for Coast Guard officer status. Moreover, “We
needed to smooth our relationship with the U. S. Power Squadron; we
needed a full-time director in each District, a ‘raison d’être’, a
treasury, a charter, and a Foundation, some way to stop the unauthorized
wearing of the uniform of the C.[oast] G.[uard], an authorized text for
the instructors (we wrote one), for our meetings and public courses.
We almost had a riot at the Conference when they. . .heard we were to
have ten cents National dues per year!”
During his tenure, Bauer continued the work he and Pouncey had begun,
pushing for standardized programs and procedures and to unify the
organization. He stressed that every member’s contributions were
important and promoted better communications and public relations.
The 8-lesson boating safety course text was introduced; the first public
education registration fee of one dollar was charged students; Courtesy
Marine Examinations (CMEs) were extended to Class A motorboats (16 ft.
and under); the CME decal became recognized by other recreational
boating organizations. Bauer initiated the publication of the
first Auxiliary member, CME, and uniform manuals. District
commodores worked with newly appointed Coast Guard District directors of
Auxiliary and the first national treasurer was appointed. In 1953,
the first national Auxiliary awards, the Plaque of Merit (A) and
Certificate of Merit (B) were instituted.
In this organizing work, Bauer traveled widely across the United States
and spent a considerable amount of time in Washington, conferring with
the chief director of Auxiliary, Capt. Nat Fulford, with whom he became
good friends. In fact, Fulford helped Bauer plump up his uniform,
as he apparently decided he needed more awards to look like a national
commodore. According to son Jon Bauer, “It was determined that
once Dad had done fairly well at a handgun range so he was given the
insignia of expert marksman. Additionally he received insignia for
offshore patrol in a war zone. Dad found this humorous."
At the end of his term, Bauer was awarded the Certificate of Merit for
his outstanding service in support of the Coast Guard Auxiliary by Cmdt.
Alfred C. Richmond. His 1200 hours of active duty service earned
him two 600-hour silver wrist tags, the World War II award whose
qualifications made him eligible for the Victory and American Campaign
Medals (it is not known if he applied for them). Commodore Bauer
passed away on September 16, 1991, in his hometown of Wallingford,
Pennsylvania, survived by his son.
[Papers, Alexander S. Bauer, U. S. Coast Guard Auxiliary O. W. Martin,
Jr., National Records Collection, Special Collections, Joyner Library,
East Carolina University, Greenville, N. C.; Tilley, op. cit., p. 59;
Adventures in Cruising the Delaware in Wartime:
Recollections of PNACO Pete Bauer, USCGR (T), 1942-45.*
From its inception in 1939, U. S. Coast Guard Auxiliary
flotillas were formed in yacht clubs all up and down the East Coast.
Within days following the outbreak of World War II on December 7, 1941,
Germany declared war on the United States and Chancellor Adolf Hitler
decided to send submarines to attack American shipping in home waters.
Both the Navy and the Coast Guard were unprepared for this assault which
decimated merchant shipping, resulting in the loss of thousands of
seamen’s lives. Hence in June 1942, regulations were changed to
authorize the enrollment of Auxiliarists on a part-time, temporary
basis, with or without pay, for a one- to five month period** to meet
the ongoing threat.
During these early days of the 2-ocean war, there were too few patrol
boats and planes, convoys had not been instituted, U-boats easily
targeted ships which were silhouetted against still brightly lit city
skylines, and merchant captains often made the mistake of hugging the
coastline. In June, German saboteurs landed off submarines on
beaches on Long Island, New York and Florida.
By that date, however, Auxiliary patrols had proven their
worth in the Florida Strait and the Gulf, having rescued scores of
torpedoed crews and kept a sharp eye out for the Germans. Thus, a
nationwide push got underway to enroll seaworthy 50- to 100+-foot
sailboats and motor cruisers for antisubmarine work. Since Pearl
Harbor the Auxiliary had virtually taken over harbor patrol work.
In July 1942 in Philadelphia, the first Volunteer Port Security Force
Unit was formed of volunteer men and women, all of whom did not possess
Alexander “Pete” Bauer was in his late thirties when the war broke out.
In attempting to enroll in the Navy, he was able to perform their one
required deep knee bend, but few more. Hence, he turned down a
desk job to join the Coast Guard Auxiliary. On July 20, 1942,
Bauer enrolled as a temporary Reservist, for the duration putting in the
requisite 24 hours of active duty per week. As was the case
nationwide, men from all walks of life enrolled to become wartime old
salts: cab drivers, bus mechanics, short order cooks, salesmen,
engineers, each applying his skills as a unit and crew member.
Mariners’ seagoing backgrounds also varied: from recreational fishermen,
to dinghy sailors and yachtsmen, to cabin and motor cruiser skippers.
Bauer was a sailor, a member of Philadelphia sailing clubs. After he
enrolled, he heard through his friends that the FBI had come around to
inquire about his background. German spies and Nazi organizations
were active in the East, even before the war broke out, and so someone
entering the Coast Guard with a German name like Bauer needed to be
The Coast Guard next tested Bauer’s seamanship skills. Men going for
coxswain were taken out in groups on the Delaware River to conduct boat
maneuvering and docking exercises. According to son Jon Bauer, “I
remember Dad saying that some potential skippers backed away from the
wheel on their approach to the dock in the swift Delaware River current.
He remembered his turn at the exercise approaching with the leeward
screw engaged forward and the other in the neutral while the boat was
abeam in the current.” Bauer passed his skipper check-offs and the
first boat assigned him was a schooner; the second an ocean going
tugboat equipped for fire fighting and ice breaking; and the third an
80-foot, first-class yacht loaned to the government by Bill McCann,
named Florence V.
During the first months of the German U-boat assault, tensions ran so
high that crews were sent out almost immediately upon sign up, often
without proper uniforms. Apparently even after regulations were
drafted, the uniforms may have been catch-as-catch can. In Bauer’s
case, his wife made them for his crew. On one train ride to the
dock, Bauer sat across the aisle from a Navy officer who kept eyeing
him, obviously wondering who that was in what uniform.
Even though there was a war on, Philadelphians still sought out the
beaches of the Stone Harbor, Wild Wood, and Cape May areas, riding the
hundred miles or so by train to the shore. Both commercial and
recreational fishing boats plied the waters. Some days Bauer’s
crew would pick up clams for their own meals or hand them to fishermen
and other patrol crews. However, their main job was to maintain a
vigilant watch for U-boats and suspicious activities in the Delaware Bay
and Atlantic in this important section of the intracoastal waterway.
Again according to Jon Bauer, “Dockside [the TRs] would inventory each
outgoing fishing boat so that a reasonable amount of provisions consumed
could be documented on return. Fuel was measured. . . .It was
important to be familiar with the personalities as well as the fishing
boats and provisions.” This comment suggests that the CGR crews
were on the lookout for fishermen who might be supplying the German
U-boats with food and/or fuel. Early in the war, commercial
fishermen were not pleased that the federal government was strictly
regulating their operations. Arrests were made of persons selling
fuel to U-boats.
Of course there were the funny, odd, and ludicrous events.
Although Bauer knew the Delaware River well and piloted “by the seat of
his pants,” this means of operation might not work out too well when
less knowledgeable crew were on board. On one occasion, Bauer gave
a heading to the helmsman of the day, only to emerge again just in time
to blurt out, “but don’t hit the bridge.” Then there was the day
the signalman was having the darnedest time figuring out a Morse code
message being blipped from a ship docked at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.
Unable to divine the “disjunct” garble, when they pulled alongside, they
saw it was sparks being emitted by two welders that was the “code.”
Apparently the cook on board possessed less than world-class culinary
skills, particularly as concerned the morning bacon, even though he
worked very hard and delivered meals promptly. Finally Bauer had
to demonstrate that the large square of meat must be dissembled into
strips in order to actually fry them, rather than just char the chunk.
When conducting offshore patrols, sailboats and seaworthy cruisers were
assigned “grid” patrol areas along the 50-fathom curve of the Atlantic
Coast. For this work, Bauer’s Florence V was painted battleship
gray and fitted out with forward weaponry and an underwater microphone
to pick up the sounds of the U-boats. “Some days the purpose was
to drift quietly in the grid to listen and observe. At other
times, it was to make engine disturbance to keep submarines consuming
while submerged.” These tactics achieved two results. By
drifting silently utilizing their microphones, the sailboats would be
able to hear the U-boats which would not be able to hear them. The
reverse reference to making engine disturbances points up the fact that
U-boats would submerge upon approach of even the smallest vessel in fear
of its location being reported to well-armed military craft and passing
convoys; thus submerged in hiding, the submarines would needlessly
consume fuel. Moreover, contrary to popular belief, German U-boats
normally attacked on the surface at night, as they could only keep up
with convoy speeds on the surface. So anything that kept the
U-boats submerged would keep them from attacking, even small cabin
cruisers and sailboats. The above tactical information further
suggests that Florence V drifted to determine a U-boat presence, but
turned on her engines if it was believed that U-boats were in the area,
perhaps reported by other vessels or patrol planes.
Finally, one day the crew surely thought their day of reckoning had
come. Unusual waves were seen to be caused by a metal “dark tower”
in the water, possibly a submarine conning tower! The one rifle
was produced from below. Alas, the “tower” turned out to be a
harmless floating cylinder of some kind.
Bauer and crew also learned that sometimes “you just had to be there,”
as the saying goes, to learn local conditions. On one patrol, the
machinist mate reported that both engines were overheated. They
finally figured out that they were passing a local distillery at the
time of day (or night) when the company was disposing of its cooked sour
mash by dumping it into the Delaware River.
* This short history has been adapted from son Jon Bauer’s 1992 written
submission to the Coast Guard Auxiliary’s National Records Collection,
Joyner Library, East Carolina University.
** Also see “Bravo Zero: The Coast Guard Auxiliary in World War II,”
under text articles on this webpage for a full discussion of the
Auxiliary and TRs during the war, particularly the Coastal Picket Force
of sailboats and motor cruisers. N. B.: During the summer and fall
of 1942, when the German threat was very high, crews were paid, although
some took paid leaves from their jobs. In December 1942,
regulations changed again: those who physically qualified could enroll
in the active duty Reserves; otherwise, CGTRs could continue service
only on a volunteer basis, or disenroll. – C. Kay Larson
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Bert C. Pouncey, Jr.
Bert C. Pouncey, Jr., originally from Hughes, Arkansas,
was elected the first national commodore of the U. S. Coast Guard
Auxiliary in 1951. Pouncey had risen through the ranks to be
elected commodore of the old 2nd District (8CR). Simultaneous to
his election the National Board was established. He; Capt. Nat
Fulford, chief director; and NAVCO Pete Bauer traveled the country to
establish the Auxiliary as a national organization, working to
standardize programs and initiating the first letters of instruction,
manuals, forms, etc.
Under Pouncey's and Fulford's leadership, the notable
AUXOP program was established in 1952, inspired by Boston flotillas
which formed specially trained Operational Units that conducted exacting
grid-pattern search drills with Civil Air Patrol planes, supervised by
the Coast Guard. Other districts followed suit and the program got
the attention of headquarters. Thus a formal program under which
elite units, consisting of fifty members, five boats, two aircraft, and
a radio station, were fielded in the districts. They would be
specially trained by, and work closely with, regular units and called to
duty in emergencies. Ultimately, however, the strict training and
duty schedule proved difficult to maintain and often the combination of
facilities could not be pulled together. As a result the program
morphed into the current one in which the AUXOP award is earned by
individual members who have passed specialty courses in seven areas,
such as seamanship and search and rescue.
For his founding efforts and outstanding service, in
1953, Pouncey was awarded the Certificate of Merit (B) Award.
In his professional life, Pouncey was a bank director.
A member of the cotton exchange in Memphis, he lived on a large farm,
renting to tenants. He owned two power boats that he operated on
the Mississippi River.
He died suddenly on February 6, 1971, being survived by
his Auxiliary family: wife, Dorothy, and two sons, all of Flotilla 81,
Division 6, of Memphis, Tennessee.
[Navigator, January-March 1971, p. 8; John A. Tilley, The
U. S. Coast Guard Auxliary: A History, 1939-1999 (Washington, D. C.: U.
S. Government Printing Office, 2003), pp. 58-59, 62-64; Papers,
Alexander "Pete" Bauer, see below]
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