Coast Guard Horse Patrol – Sepia Saturday

This weeks theme for Sepia Saturday was perfect, just what I needed!

I have mentioned how some of my items are going to a relative who came upon my blog, these photos came from an auction, a box of photos. I had scanned all my faves awhile ago to use for blogs because there were so many pictures in this group, and then there were a few I wanted to use the most, they were just some fun shots, This week is a leggy woman on a wood horse with a ball and mallet. Well Ive got a man in uniform, with a gun and pack on his back on a rolling makeshift horse of sorts too!

Hazing ritual? Or just a bunch of guys clowning around? Now I dont know if these guys were part of the actual US Coast Guard Horse Patrol. But as I read through the story of the Horse Patrol on the webite I have quoted from below, I went through the box of photos again, and to my surprise continued to find photos lining up with what was written about the US Coast Guard Horse Patrol. Which I found quite exciting! I have placed the photos along the way through the text to show you how they seem to fit perfectly! Please read the website in full as there is so much more history there to read about the Horse Patrol, I just quoted some tidbits.

World War II Coast Guard Horse Patrol by Dan Hoff

“Most of the men were a little startled by the prospect of roaming along the beaches on horses, but it turned out to be a good idea. Each man assigned to the actual patrolling had his own horse and gear he was responsible for. The stations near the ranches now used the facilities at hand with the cooperation and help of the ranchers. A “genuine” cavalry officer from the First World War was assigned to the unit as the official Coast Guard Veterinarian. …

I was so happy to go through the box and find pictures of horses, I was wondering if they were just regular old family photos, but then if you see the last photo it is of a stable, and it says “US COAST GUARD” over the doors. So Bingo!

“Now the men patrolled the beaches on horseback and could cover more area than before….In the areas that weren’t accessible by horses the patrols on foot continued. Often the men used dogs. These were regular attack dogs that could only be handled by one man and were not to be fooled with by anyone else. The majority of these were German Shepherds.”

Another Match! Also found our guy with a Collie also in another shot.

“With the horses and dogs came the establishment of a landline communications system. Phone lines, strung on poles or occasionally underground, ran from just north of Trinidad to the Mattole River. Every few miles or so along the patrol route were small shacks where the men could stop for a rest and a cup of coffee, and to check in with headquarters. This phone system was set up just for the use of the beach patrol and was dismantled when the program was terminated.
In its nearly two years of full operation from September of 1942 to the summer of 1944 the program had served its purpose well under the initial hardships of a lack of equipment and time to prepare the program. The men in the initial unit of 80 sailors from the Midwest did their work well and were appreciated by the local community for guarding the beaches that were potentially open to the enemy for sabotage or any other panic causing disruptions that could have occurred. Many members of this unit continue as friends to this day. After all, you couldn’t help but get to know your partner while you were trudging through sand all night in those early days of the patrol.”

I did a previous blog on the Coast Guard and General Cable Co, for those who remember all the men on the telephone pole? These also seem to line up and match with what is written, to see the phone line photos go to this entry..

“Yes, there really were mounted Coast Guardsmen, galloping up and down the Humboldt beaches on horseback over 40 years ago during World War II. Perhaps they were an odd sight then, and still would be today if they were needed for such action along our damp and often storm plagued beaches of Humboldt County”


Since I have been researching and working on these photos quite a bit, I feel Ive come to know this family, Ernie and his sister Rita, his parents, the Greek relatives, his Coast Guard years, and so much more. I can’t wait to hear what his relatives have to say and what gaps they can fill in or what history they will uncover.

I will miss you Ernie! Fitting way to see him off before his photos go back to family.

Pete David Ernie Kolleas Born July 30, 1925, Died Feb. 16, 2010.



Filed under Photo Albums

12 responses to “Coast Guard Horse Patrol – Sepia Saturday

  1. Three cheers for Ernie. What a fun time I had reading this.

  2. Excellent post! I loved learning more about the Coast Guard Horse Patrol. I can definitely see my Dad volunteering for that duty had he been aware! Isn’t it wonderful how a series of photos come together to tell a story. 🙂

  3. Great post. Interesting to see how the text is tied to the photos.

  4. Interesting! In Holland the guards still use horses to patrol the beaches. So you have to look out for horse manure when you’re walking the beach…

  5. Very interesting post, loved all the photos.

  6. Pat

    Well this was very informative. I never knew nor would have imagined a coast guard horse patrol. I cannot believe what I learn here on all the Sepia posts. Very interesting.

  7. gluepot

    Fascinating background that you’ve unearthed to these photographs, and I hope the story of the people in them provide a scintillating sequel in due course.

  8. Karen S.

    What a delightful story, and the greatest photos to match up…especially the wooden horse is just really quite the ride! Quite the time of their lives back then for sure!

  9. That was very interesting. The first picture really looks like a child’s toy too.

  10. A terrific micro-history on a forgotten service. I used to live in Virginia Beach, VA and know the USCG kept vigilance for U-boats during the war. The amount of coast line and need to save on fuel made a horse patrol a necessity.

  11. Vicki

    My father was in the Coast Guard Horse Patrol and I am really interested in getting more information about what he did and see if I can find any pictures of him that I haven’t seen before. I also have access to some great pictures that he took. I just purchased the “Prints in the Sand” book to learn more about this. My mom, husband and I remember many stories he told us before he passed in 2006. -Vicki

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