Saluting National Coast Guard Day
As home to one of the U.S. Coast Guard’s oldest air stations, Miami-Dade County has even more reason to celebrate National Coast Guard Day on August 4.
Air Station Miami, first established in 1932, is now served by a crew of 70 officers, 210 enlisted personnel, 13 civilians, and 54 auxiliarists with a fleet of five MH-65D Dolphin helicopters and five HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft at Miami-Opa locka Executive Airport – located just seven miles north of Miami International Airport.
National Coast Guard Day commemorates the founding of the military branch first known as the Revenue Marine on August 4, 1790, by then-Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton. On that date, U.S. Congress authorized creating a fleet of the first 10 Revenue Service cutter vessels responsible for enforcing the first tariff laws enacted under the U.S. Constitution.
The Coast Guard received its current name through an act of Congress signed into law by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson on January 28, 1915, that merged the Revenue Cutter Service with the U.S. Life-Saving Service, creating a single maritime service dedicated to saving life at sea and enforcing the nation's maritime laws.
Coast Guard Air Station Miami was established in June 1932 at Dinner Key on Biscayne Bay, now home to the City of Miami’s City Hall, when the U.S. Navy leased the land from the city. As the Coast Guard’s first “modern” aviation unit, it operated a variety of “flying lifeboats.” Some of the vessels were designed especially for the Coast Guard, while others were modified civilian variants.
In 1965, Air Station Miami officially relocated its aircraft and operations from Dinner Key to its current home at Miami-Opa locka Executive Airport on the west side of the airfield, operating a variety of fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. From its inception to now, Air Station Miami has a decorated history of heroic rescues, humanitarian relief efforts, and homeland security operations.
When Eastern Airlines flight 401 crashed into the Everglades with 167 passengers on December 30, 1972, an Air Station Miami HH-52 helicopter was the first rescue asset on site, transporting 42 survivors to area hospitals. After the Cuban government opened its Port of Mariel for all nationals desiring to leave the country on April 23, 1980, Air Station Miami crews located and rescued more than 100,000 persons attempting to make the treacherous 90 nautical mile voyage to Miami. In 2005, 50 Air Station Miami crew members and five helicopters participated in Hurricane Katrina relief operations, rescuing 755 survivors in less than two weeks.
In January 2010, Air Station Miami aircraft flew in support of Operation Unified Response after a catastrophic 7.0 earthquake devastated Haiti. Air Station Miami quickly became the Coast Guard’s logistics hub for the operation, processing and transporting over 94,000 pounds of equipment and 179 personnel into Haiti to assist the relief effort. That same year, the unit also flew 46 missions with eight aircraft in support of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill cleanup, providing time-critical oil mapping and logistics.
MIA proudly salutes the thousands of brave men and women who serve in the U.S. Coast Guard to provide security and humanitarian response along our nation’s coastlines. Happy National Coast Guard Day!