January 7, 2022

The Coast Guard and Heceta

The Coast Guard and Heceta, Heceta Lighthouse B&B
The Coast Guard through History
The Coast Guard is one of the oldest organizations of the federal government. Established in 1790, the Coast Guard served as the nation’s only armed force on the sea until Congress launched the Navy Department eight years later. Since then, the Coast Guard has protected the United States throughout its long history and served proudly in ever on of the nation’s conflicts.
 4 August 1790 – President George Washington signs the Tariff Act that authorizes the construction of ten vessels referred to as “cutters,” to enforce federal tariff and trade laws and to prevent smuggling. The Revenue Cutter Service expanded in size and responsibilities as the nation grew.
1915 – The Revenue Cutter Service merges with the U.S. Life-Saving Service, and is officially renamed the Coast Guard, making it the only maritime service dedicated to saving life at sea and enforcing the nation’s maritime laws.
1939 – President Franklin Roosevelt orders the transfer of the Lighthouse Service to the Coast Guard, putting it in charge of maritime navigation.
1946- Congress permanently transfers the Commerce Departments Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation to the Coast Guard, putting merchant marine licensing and merchant vessels safety in its control.
1967 – The Coast Guard is transferred to Department of Transportation.
2003 – The Coast Guard is again transferred, this time to the Department of Homeland Security, where it currently serves.
What did the Coast Guard do during World War II?
The Coast Guard supported both combat and traditional service missions, including search and rescue, marine safety, convoy escort duty, troop transport and amphibious operations, port security, and beach patrol.

WWII December 7, 1941, the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, put
residents along the Oregon coast in constant fear of attack. The Heceta
Head Coast Guard Beach Patrol troops began arriving in early 1943 and
provided an important link in a chain of coastal patrols.

As many as 75 coastguardsmen were stationed at Heceta.

Two barracks were erected where the head keepers house once stood to house
the enlisted men. One barracks was living quarters; the other a kitchen and
dining hall. Some married men lived with their wives in a house above Sea
Lion Cave while others at Sutton Cottages near Sutton Lake. The commanders
lived in the east half of the duplex.

Day and night, the soldiers with attack dogs patrolled the beaches and
headlands between north Florence and Yachats watching for Japanese landing
parties. A dozen dogs were kenneled in dog houses built below the duplex.
The former fenced chicken yard was used as a dog training area. Two dog
trainers had their own cooking shack to prepare the dogs’ meals.

Head Keeper, Cap and Ma Herman lived on the west side of the duplex and
served from 1925-1950.

An observation shack equipped with a radio was built on the hill
above the lighthouse and staffed around the clock watching for Japanese
submarines. The Coast Guard inventory sheet lists the cost of the lookout
as $75. Stanley Anderson, the cook stationed at Heceta during the war,
said, “the tower was little more than a small shelter that provided scant
protection for the unfortunate on duty.” To ensure no public access to the
area, an armed sentry house was built at the entrance to the driveway and
the highway.

Mary Nulty
Volunteer Historian / Curator / Docent
Heceta Lighthouse Interpretive Center at the Keeper’s House