Today’s post comes from Jessica Soden, National Archives Technician & former Innovation Hub Coordinator Detailee
During my time as the Innovation Hub Coordinator detailee, the National Archives added deck logs from United States Coast Guard cutter vessels (USCGC) involved in the Vietnam War (RG 26, Entry 330; NAID 559642) to the list of records that are available for scanning in the Innovation Hub. Anyone who is interested in the role that the Coast Guard cutter vessels played during the Vietnam War are welcome to come join us in the Innovation Hub at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC! You can scan records of USCGC vessels that served during the Vietnam War and help make the records accessible in the National Archives Catalog.
The USCGC records available for scanning in the Innovation Hub coincide with the “Remembering Vietnam” exhibit that is now open until January 6, 2019, in the National Archives Museum. The new exhibit primarily focuses on the impact that the Vietnam War had on society and presents both iconic and recently discovered National Archives records related to 12 critical episodes in the war.
If you have been inspired by the “Remembering Vietnam” exhibit to do more, we would encourage you to join us in digitizing the USCGC records in the Innovation Hub. Digitizing the USCGC records can be useful for individuals who served in the Vietnam War, including helping with Veterans Administration claims and providing more information for the family members of those who served and were killed in action during the war.
The memories and the personal effects caused from the Vietnam War will never fade, even though certain aspects, like the significance of the U.S Coast Guard during the Vietnam War, are rarely mentioned and are commonly unknown to the general public. I knew little about the role the U.S. Coast Guard played in the Vietnam War, so I met with NARA’s Navy/Maritime reference archivist, Mark Mollan. Mark provided me with some helpful background information and resources, and I conducted some research of my own and learned about the significant role the Coast Guard played in Operation Market Time during the Vietnam War. USCGC vessels patrolled Vietnamese waters, performed coastal sanction operations with the U.S. Navy, secured ports, performed explosive loading detachments with the U.S. Army, and provided helicopter pilots to serve in combat rescue missions alongside the U.S. Air Force. The Coast Guard also provided support for merchant vessel operations and helped manage navigation support for U.S. shipping. The Coast Guard was responsible for creating and maintaining several of the electronic navigation stations found throughout Vietnam and Thailand which provided critical positioning data for U.S. air operations.
Eugene “Gene” Bialek is one of the NARA volunteers who has scanned the USCGC records in the Innovation Hub since the records became available for scanning in September 2017. Gene is an oceanographer who has been volunteering here at NARA for over 22 years. He has worked on various different projects with Mark Mallon in the past and has published several different works, including the Handbook of Oceanographic Tables. Gene has been hard at work scanning the deck logs for the USCGC Point Glover. Although Gene has no personal ties with any of the vessels that served during the Vietnam War, he worked for the Navy and is interested in boats, sailing, submarines, lighthouse, and anything related to the water or oceanography. Gene says that he really enjoys scanning the USCGC records in the Innovation Hub because it gives him an opportunity to handle and read original records.
When I sat down and spoke with Gene about his experience scanning in the Innovation Hub, he told me about an interesting incident he came across while scanning, which is documented on page 4 of the USCGC Point Glover, 06/01/1967 – 06/30/1967. On June 2, 1967, the USCGC Point Glover responded to an aircraft that went down by a beach at position US 8621 and the two men onboard the aircraft were seriously injured. The USCGC Point Glover attempted to rescue the two men but the swell was too high so they had to send in a smaller boat. The smaller boat encountered difficulties, and one of the injured men was pronounced dead by a medic who arrived on scene.
If you are interested in helping us scan USCGC records from the Vietnam War, please stop by and see us in the Innovation Hub at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC. In the Innovation Hub, we help researchers scan civil war pension files, bounty land warrant applications, carded medical records, and USCGC records. There is no cost to you for scanning, and we upload all of the files to the National Archives Catalog. You are also able to take a copy of the records with you if you bring a CD, flash drive, or have another way to save the files. The Innovation Hub is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you any questions, please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you interested in helping out but can’t make it to Washington, DC? Not a problem! Help us tag and transcribe the USCGC records already scanned and online in the catalog. To learn more about tagging and transcribing, please visit the Citizen Archivist Dashboard.