When The Coast Guard Patrolled The Beaches On Horseback

Using horses to assist in the patrol of the United States beaches began as early as 1871. The beach patrols were normally done on foot and at that time were operated by the Life Saving Service, a predecessor of the modern Coast Guard.

The inspections were done with foot patrols who watched the coastlines for ships in distress. Horses were used to haul boats from storage sheds to the launching point to rescue crews from ships run aground.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Coast Guard put into action a wartime beach patrol. In 1942, the Coast Guard officially saddled up.

Horses were now the authorized means of patrolling the U.S. beaches. This allowed far more territory to be covered faster and more easily than men on foot.

The U.S. Army provided the horses and the Army Remount Service supplied the riding gear.  It was the Coast Guard that provided the uniforms for each rider.

The word was quickly sent out that the Coast Guard was looking for men who knew how to ride and handle horses.

Applicants answering the call to duty ran the gamut of experienced equestrians. This included polo players, cowboys, jockeys, rodeo riders, stunt men, horse trainers, Army Reserve cavalrymen and more.

During World War II, there was great concern about enemy vessels nearing U.S. shores, allowing adversarial forces to invade the nation.

The beach patrols gained increased importance as security forces. There were three basic functions: to look for and report on any suspicious vessels operating in the area; to report and prevent attempts of landings by the enemy; and to prevent communication between persons on shore and the enemy at sea.

The mounted units soon became the largest segment of the entire beach patrol.  Within one year after the Coast Guard authorized the use of horses, there were nearly 3,000 horses called to duty.

The use of horses allowed patrolmen to carry radios, rifles and sidearms when astride. Being on horseback further provided an advantage in the event a patrol had to run down a suspect or block an escape.

Mounted patrol teams required at least two riders.  In some cases dogs worked alongside the horses. The use of these animals added to the patrol’s ability to detect persons or situations that might not be observed by the patrolmen.

“While it was not their mission to repel an invasion from the sea, the Coast Guard beach patrols performed a vital function insofar as the morale of the America people was concerned,” said Chris Havern, a Coast Guard historian. “The beach patrols provided a presence that re-assured the American homefront that they were being protected by a vigilant armed force.”

The work of beach patrols – either on foot, in vehicles or on horseback – could be very difficult.  However, these were strong, highly motivated men dedicated to do their part for the war effort. A declassified report about the beach patrol from 1945 provides a glimpse into the morale of these men:

“Despite the many difficulties encountered and overcome, the morale of the men was universally high…Where horses and dogs were used, consideration of the animals was often more important than the comfort of the men. Upon them, as much as upon the welfare of the handlers, depended the sustained vigilance of the patrols…The methodical tramp tramp of weary feet plodding their beats back and forth, amid fair weather and foul, stood as a constant reminder that the military duties on the home front are often as essential to victory as the more exciting activities to the far-flung battle line.”

After World War II, the Coast Guard never again used mounted patrols.  But this unusual part of the service’s history illustrates its unending flexibility and adaptability.

It is a shining example of how the Coast Guard lives up to its motto of Semper Paratus: Always Ready.

~~~

Source: The Coast Guard Compass
Photo: U.S. Coast Guard

Rare Horse Breed Proves Crucial To England’s Wetlands

1-konik2.jpg

A rare breed of horse once at the centre of Nazi experiments has been recognized as a key part of plans to restore the  delicate wetlands of England.

It is now acknowledged that the grazing habits of the rare Konik breed – the name meaning small horse in Polish – play a crucial part in helping to make wetlands more habitable for other species.

The project to restore them to Kentish wetlands is a joint venture between the Wildwood Trust, near Canterbury, English Nature and Kent Wildlife Trust.

It’s one of the oldest animals known to man. Wild horses once roamed all over Europe and England.  Now the wild Konik horse is once again grazing on the English lowlands.

2-konik1.jpg

They are a highly unusual breed, descended directly from the Tarpan, the wild European forest horse hunted to extinction in Britain in Neolithic times.

Tarpan survived in central Europe until the late 1800s when the last were captured in the primeval forest of Bialoweiza, Poland, and taken to zoos. The last died in 1910.

In the early 20th century, Polish scientists noticed Tarpan-coloured foals – mouse grey overall with zebra stripes on their legs and dark manes and tails – were still being born to domestic mares in herds where Tarpan had formerly ranged.

3-konik3.jpg

It was also noticed that they turned whiter over winter – another Tarpan trait.They selected these and back-bred them successfully over generations to recreate the extinct forest horse.

4-konik4.jpg

Between the two world wars, German zoo directors were supported by senior Nazi party officials such as Herman Goering in their effort to recreate these primeval horses. The Tarpan featured heavily in German folklore.

After the Nazi invasion of Poland, whole herds where stolen and transported back to Germany.

Polish scientists looking after wild horse herds managed to protect some, and after the war the protected herds were allowed to repopulate the national parks of Poland under Soviet occupation.

When the Iron Curtain fell, conservationists were at last able to transport the wild horses to national parks across Europe.  

Wildwood Trust pioneered the re-introduction of these horses to Britain in 2002. It brought the first ever of their breed to arrive in southern England and these horses and their offspring have been helping to restore some of the most precious national nature reserves in the UK.

5-konik5.jpg 

Since this time, conservation grazing projects throughout Europe have used the Konik horses for wetland grazing projects.

The former habitat of Tarpan was marshy woodland where their grazing activities help create ideal living conditions for a host of associated wildlife such as rare geese, spoonbills, bitterns and corncrakes.

At present, most of the trust’s herd are grazing at nature reserves around the county.

Wildwood Trust runs WoodlandDiscoveryPark, a visitor attraction which forms part of their strategy to save native and once-native wildlife from extinction.

6-konik6.jpg 

Wildwood includes a forest enclosure where Konik horses retired from the trust’s main herds can spend their days, providing the many visitors with a good look at the remarkable breed.

 Link:  News Release

Photos: Les Willis

Woman, 95, to be Oldest College Graduate

Sitting on the front row in her college classes carefully taking notes, Nola Ochs is just as likely to answer questions as to ask them. That’s not the only thing distinguishing her from fellow students at Fort Hays State University. She’s 95, and when she graduates May 12, she’ll be what is believed to be the world’s oldest person to be awarded a college degree. 

oldest-college-grad.jpg 

She didn’t plan it that way. She just loved to learn as a teenager on a Hodgeman County farm, then as a teacher at a one-room school after graduating from high school and later as a farm wife and mother.

“That yearning for study was still there. I came here with no thought of it being an unusual thing at all,” she said. “It was something I wanted to do. It gave me a feeling of satisfaction. I like to study and learn.

The record Ochs will break, according to Guinness World Records, belongs to Mozelle Richardson, who at age 90 in 2004 received a journalism degree from the University of
Oklahoma.

“We should all be so lucky and do such amazing things. Her achievement challenges us all to reach for our own goals and dreams,” said Tom Nelson, AARP chief operating officer in Washington.

She’s getting offers for television appearances, and reporters show up wanting to interview her. She acknowledges enjoying it.

“It brings attention to this college and this part of the state. Good people live here,” she said. “And I still wear the same size hat.

But she added: “I don’t dwell on my age. It might limit what I can do. As long as I have my mind and health, it’s just a number.

Ochs is proudest of being the matriarch of a family that includes three sons — a fourth died in 1995 — along with 13 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren.

“They’re all such fine boys,” she said. “Our main crop is our children, and the farm is a good place to raise them.

Ochs started taking classes at Dodge City Community College after her husband of 39 years, Vernon, died in 1972. A class here and there over the years, and she was close to having enough hours for an undergraduate degree.

Last fall, Ochs moved the 100 miles from her farm southwest of Jetmore to an apartment on campus to complete the final 30 hours to get a general studies degree with an emphasis on history.

At 5-foot-2, her white hair pulled into a bun, she walks purposely down hallways to classes with her books in a cloth tote bag. Students nod and smile; she’s described as witty, charming and down to earth.

“Everybody has accepted me, and I feel just like another student,” she said. “The students respect me.

Coming out of a classroom, Skyla Foster, a junior majoring in history, sees Ochs and calls out to her. To everyone on campus, she’s “Nola,” not Mrs. Ochs — and that’s the way she wants it.

“She is pretty neat, a very interesting person and very knowledgeable,” Foster said.

Todd Leahy, history department chairman, wondered at first if Ochs could keep up with the other students. After her second week, all doubts were gone, as he discovered she could provide tidbits of history.

Leahy, who had Ochs in four classes, wants to record oral histories with her after she graduates.

“I can tell them about it, but to have Nola in class adds a dynamic that can’t be topped,” Leahy said. “It’s a firsthand perspective you seldom get.

For instance, Ochs offered recollections of the 1930s
Midwest dust bowl, when skies were so dark that lamps were lit during the day and wet sheets were placed over windows to keep out dust that sounded like pelting sleet hitting the house.

During a discussion about World War II, Ochs told how she and her husband, along with other wheat farmers in the area, grew soybeans on some of their acres for the war effort.

“I would have never talked about that in class, but she brought it up and we talked about it,” Leahy said. “She often adds color to the face of history.

Ochs hasn’t complained about the work, nor has she asked for special considerations.

In her one-bedroom apartment, books are open and papers and notes are within easy reach when she sits down at her computer to research and write.

“I came up here with that purpose. No, I never doubted it. Other people did it,” she said. “I came up here to work, and I enjoy it.

Ochs said she has learned new things. She said she has attained a better understanding of Russian history and the role Dwight Eisenhower played in the D-Day invasion.

An added joy for Ochs is that her 21-year-old granddaughter, Alexandra Ochs, will graduate with her.

“How many people my age have a chance to hang out with their grandmothers? She’s really accepted by the other students,” Alexandra said. “They enjoy her, but probably not as much as I do.

Ochs said she looks forward to getting home to help with the wheat harvest, as she has done every year for as long as she can remember. After harvest, she might travel or take more classes at a community college.

After that? “I’m going to seek employment on a cruise ship as a storyteller,” she said, smiling. The determined look in her eye leaves no doubt she’s serious.

CARL MANNING, Associated Press Writer   April 2007

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 136 other followers