Tuesday, November 13th


November 19, 2018 – Evening Event, 6:00 pm, location to be announced

November 22, 2018 – Happy Thanksgiving!

November 27, 2018 – Breakfast Meeting, 7:00 am, SDYC. Speaker – Greg Sterner, Physical Therapist


Question:  Name the fourth branch of the United States Armed Services?

Question:  Name the oldest branch of the United States Armed Services that operates in the air and on the seas?

Question:  Name the only branch of the United States Armed Services with less than 50,000 active personnel?

Question:  Name the only branch of the United States Armed Services with policing power?

The answer to all four questions is …. The United States Coast Guard!

Captain Joseph Buzzella, USCG

San Diego is a COAST GUARD CITY.  A Coast Guard City is a municipality designated by the Commandant of the Coast Guard on application of the local civilian government.  It is an honorary designation intended to recognize communities of special importance to the Coast Guard.  There are currently 21 cities designated “Coast Guard Cities”

Captain Joseph Buzzella is the Sector Commander and Captain of the Port of San Diego, California.  He is a qualified pilot (both fixed wing and helicopters) and has served as the Deck Watch Officer for two Coast Guard cutters.  He has worked in the Department of Homeland Security and the Pentagon.  Captain Buzzella holds multiple Master Degrees and is commonly referred to as the Sheriff of the Port.  The San Diego Sector for the Coast Guard service area includes not only the San Diego Port area and surrounding ocean waters, but inland navigable waters like the Colorado River, Lake Powell, and Lake Mead.  The Coast Guard is charged with the safety and defense of our navigable waters.

“There are three branches of the Armed Services, Army, Navy and Air Force, that operate under the Department of Defense,” according to Captain Buzzella.  “The Coast Guard operates under the Department of Homeland Security, as our principal mission is the defense of the navigable waterways of the United States.  The Coast Guard was permanently established August 4, 1790 and has remained in continuous service since that date.  The US Navy began earlier(1775), but was disbanded after the Revolutionary War (1783) and not revived until 1794.  Today the Coast Guard has 40,075 active service men and women.  And, we are the only Armed Service authorized by congress to use policing powers with the public.  These things make us unique!”

“And, just so there is no confusion about our abilities … The Coast Guard was at Kitty Hawk, when the Wright Brothers took their first flight… The Coast Guard has provided NASA with astronauts… and the Navy with SEALs!”  The primary responsibility of the Coast Guard is the safety of our navigable waterways.  This means rivers, bays and ocean waterways.  The Coast Guard is responsible for the safety of human life (over 300 lives have been saved so far, in 2018 by the San Diego Sector).  The Coast Guard is responsible for safety of our borders (illegal entrance has been sought by Chinese, Middle Eastern and Central American countries this year).  And, the Coast Guard is responsible for the safety of our ports.  This mean knowing who, what, when, where and why visitors and commercial vessels are entering and leaving our ports.

Pres. Steve Doyle and Captain Buzzella

And then, there was the 9-11 Boat Lift.  With the Twin Towers disaster in lower Manhattan, millions of people were looking for a path to safety.  Many of them went south, to the waterfront, but then found themselves trapped between the tumbling buildings and the East River.  A small flotilla of private boats starting taking people off the piers.  Watching the crowds grow and the ships being overwhelmed, the Coast Guard sent out a general plea for boat owners to bring aide and assistance to the waterfront.  The story is told by Tom Hanks in this amazing video.  Almost 500,000 people were rescued in a 9 hour period on 9-11 by the Coast Guard and hundred of volunteer boat owners.  It is one of those miraculous stories from 9-11 and it needs to be remembered.

The Optimist Club of Point Loma thanks Captain Buzzella for stopping by and sharing this amazing story with us.

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