The U.S. Coast Guard Academy will honor the legacy of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Women’s Reserve, also known as the “Semper Paratus, Always Ready” (SPARs) during the inaugural SPARs basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022 at 1p.m.
The origin of the SPARs dates back to 1942, when legislation was passed and subsequently created the Women’s Reserve. This new arm of the Coast Guard played pivotal roles in both the ongoing WWII war effort as well as paving the way for future women in all branches of the military.
From 1942 until disbandment in 1946, more than 11,000 women volunteered for service. Under the leadership of Capt. Dorothy Stratton, the SPARs commanding officer, the SPARs allowed the Coast Guard to adequately accommodate for logistical and shore-based needs while simultaneously freeing male service members up to serve overseas in the war effort.
While enlisted Coast Guard women attended basic training and “A” schools at multiple locations dispersed throughout the country. SPAR officers were trained exclusively at the Naval Reservist Midshipman School in North Hampton, Massachusetts and the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut.
After an intensive six-week indoctrination course, the SPARs received their commission. In total, more than 955 women received their commission, 700 of whom trained at the Coast Guard Academy.
After the war, the SPARs were demobilized and the SPARs were all discharged by June 30, 1946. It would not be until 1973 when Congressional legislation officially ended the Women’s Reserve and allowed women to integrate into both the active-duty and reservists ranks of the Coast Guard, where they still serve to this day.
More than 75 years after the disbandment of the SPARs, the Coast Guard Academy women’s basketball team is honoring the legacy of their predecessors when they host Emerson College in their final regular season game of the season. The team will be sporting a special uniform that pays tribute to the SPARs and their service.
Additionally, the Coast Guard’s Women’s Leadership Initiative, will be hosting a brunch at the Academy’s Consolidated Club from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Anyone interested in attending should contact Petty Officer 1st Class Briana Tarby ([email protected]) for more information.
Founded in 1876, the Coast Guard Academy is one of the five U.S. service academies that emphasizes leadership, physical fitness and professional development leading to a guaranteed job upon graduation as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Coast Guard.