COURT HOUSE - Cape May County’s connection with the Coast Guard has always been strong, but the designation as an official “Coast Guard Community” over the past six years has been a special honor.
According to a release, county officials were thrilled this month to find out that Cape May County has been recertified as a Coast Guard Community for another five years. Commissioner Jeffrey Pierson received the official letter from Coast Guard Admiral Karl L. Schultz. Pierson also serves as the chair of the Coast Guard Community Foundation.
“It has been extremely special to me to both represent Cape May County and the Coast Guard Community Foundation and help with this recertification, especially because of my long military career,” stated Pierson, who served in the U.S. Army and New Jersey Army National Guard for 42 years and retired as a brigadier general. “I have a deep appreciation of the importance of our military, and I have seen the deep connection our whole county has with the Training Center Cape May.”
The honor was originally bestowed on Cape May County May 8, 2015. At that time, Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Paul Zukunft proclaimed Cape May County a Coast Guard Community. Cape May County was only the second county at that time to receive the designation, which is confirmed by the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Coast Guard. It marks the recognition of a strong and special relationship between the people of Cape May County and local Coast Guard personnel.
“The Coast Guard is an integral piece of our South Jersey community and intertwined into the fabric of Cape May,” stated U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-2nd). “This designation strengthens that relationship, and I look forward to working with Coast Guard and local leadership to modernize our training facilities, so our coasties are prepared to serve their mission.”
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, Training Center Cape May is the fifth-largest base for the Coast Guard and the only recruit training center. Therefore, the Training Center is considered the "Birthplace of the Coast Guard Enlisted Corps."
The Training Center has been the sole recruit training center since 1982.
Cape May has had a long history with the U.S. Military. The Navy first set up a "section base" in Cape May, in 1917. The first time the Coast Guard has operations in Cape May is traced back to 1924, where they established air facilities for planes used in support of the U.S. Customs Services efforts.
“Cape May County and its municipalities enthusiastically demonstrated they deserve this recognition through years of support and dedication to the Coast Guard and our families,” stated Capt. Kathy Felger, commanding officer of Training Center Cape May. “From sponsored programs, like the Coast Guard Community Festival, Hometown Heroes, community activity programs, and Operation Fireside, to the care shown during the government shutdown, the Covid pandemic, cutter commissionings, and other military ceremonies and events, the people of Cape May County showed they truly love, respect and appreciate the Coast Guard, like nowhere else in our nation. It is why we consider Cape May County the Coast Guard’s hometown.”
The Coast Guard Community Foundation was established in 2015 to nurture the relationship between Coast Guard members, their families, and the people of Cape May County. The foundation works with Cape May County government, its 16 municipalities, and other community partners to present family-friendly activities throughout the year that educate people about the deep connections between the Coast Guard and the region.