Harry G. Hamlet
Harry Gabriel Hamlet served as the seventh Commandant
Commandant of the Coast Guard
The Commandant of the United States Coast Guard is the highest ranking member of the United States Coast Guard. The Commandant is normally the only four-star Admiral in the Coast Guard and is appointed for a four-year term by the President of the United States upon confirmation by the United...

 of the United States Coast Guard
United States Coast Guard
The United States Coast Guard is a branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven U.S. uniformed services. The Coast Guard is a maritime, military, multi-mission service unique among the military branches for having a maritime law enforcement mission and a federal regulatory agency...

, from 1932 to 1936.

Early life and career

Hamlet was born in Eastport, Maine
Eastport, Maine
Eastport is a small city in Washington County, Maine, United States. The population was 1,640 at the 2000 census. The principal island is Moose Island, which is connected to the mainland by causeway...

 and was the son of Oscar G. Hamlet, a Captain in the United States Revenue Cutter Service
United States Revenue Cutter Service
The United States Revenue Cutter Service was established by Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton in 1790 as an armed maritime law enforcement service. Throughout its entire existence the Revenue Cutter Service operated under the authority of the United States Department of the Treasury...

. Upon graduation from high school in Dorchester, Massachusetts
Dorchester, Massachusetts
Dorchester is a dissolved municipality and current neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, United States. It is named after the town of Dorchester in the English county of Dorset, from which Puritans emigrated and is today endearingly nicknamed "Dot" by its residents. Dorchester, including a large...

, he entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a private research university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. MIT has five schools and one college, containing a total of 32 academic departments, with a strong emphasis on scientific and technological education and research.Founded in 1861 in...


He enlisted in the Revenue Cutter Service in 1894 and upon completion of training in 1896, was assigned to the USRC Bear. Hamlet was assigned to the Bear while she assisted the Overland Relief Expedition in 1897 – 1898.

In 1900, Hamlet became one of the Revenue Cutter Service officers to attend the Naval War College
Naval War College
The Naval War College is an education and research institution of the United States Navy that specializes in developing ideas for naval warfare and passing them along to officers of the Navy. The college is located on the grounds of Naval Station Newport in Newport, Rhode Island...

 in Newport, Rhode Island
Newport, Rhode Island
Newport is a city on Aquidneck Island in Newport County, Rhode Island, United States, about south of Providence. Known as a New England summer resort and for the famous Newport Mansions, it is the home of Salve Regina University and Naval Station Newport which houses the United States Naval War...

. Upon completion of his studies, he returned to duty on the Bear, serving on patrol duty with the Bering Sea Patrol.

World War I and postwar assignments

During World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, he was assigned to the Third Naval District at Bensonhurst, New York and later joined U.S. Naval forces at Brest, France
Brest, France
Brest is a city in the Finistère department in Brittany in northwestern France. Located in a sheltered position not far from the western tip of the Breton peninsula, and the western extremity of metropolitan France, Brest is an important harbour and the second French military port after Toulon...

, assuming command of the . While in command of Marietta in the Bay of Biscay
Bay of Biscay
The Bay of Biscay is a gulf of the northeast Atlantic Ocean located south of the Celtic Sea. It lies along the western coast of France from Brest south to the Spanish border, and the northern coast of Spain west to Cape Ortegal, and is named in English after the province of Biscay, in the Spanish...

 on 28 April 1919, Captain Hamlet rescued a crew of 47 persons from the which was sinking at sea. This rescue was made extremely difficult and hazardous owing to high seas, which threatened to send the two vessels crashing together. In effecting the rescue, Hamlet displayed admirable seamanship and on 5 January 1920 he was awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal. From 1919 to 1922, he served as the Coast Guard's Chief Personnel Officer. In May 1922 Hamlet assumed command of at Honolulu, Hawaii
Honolulu, Hawaii
Honolulu is the capital and the most populous city of the U.S. state of Hawaii. Honolulu is the southernmost major U.S. city. Although the name "Honolulu" refers to the urban area on the southeastern shore of the island of Oahu, the city and county government are consolidated as the City and...

 and took her on a cruise through the Far East on the way to her new homeport of Boston, Massachusetts. From 1924 to 1928, he served as Superintendent of the Philadelphia Navy Yard
Philadelphia Naval Shipyard
The Philadelphia Naval Business Center, formerly known as the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard and Philadelphia Navy Yard, was the first naval shipyard of the United States. The U.S. Navy reduced its activities there in the 1990s, and ended most of them on September 30, 1995...

. From 1928 until his appointment as Commandant, he served as Superintendent of the United States Coast Guard Academy
United States Coast Guard Academy
Founded in 1876, the United States Coast Guard Academy is the military academy of the United States Coast Guard. Located in New London, Connecticut, it is the smallest of the five federal service academies...

 at New London, Connecticut
New London, Connecticut
New London is a seaport city and a port of entry on the northeast coast of the United States.It is located at the mouth of the Thames River in New London County, southeastern Connecticut....


Coast Guard Commandant

Following the death of Frederick C. Billard
Frederick C. Billard
Frederick C. Billard served as the sixth Commandant of the United States Coast Guard from 1924 until his death. He is the only Coast Guard Commandant to die in office....

, he was appointed as Commandant of the Coast Guard
Commandant of the Coast Guard
The Commandant of the United States Coast Guard is the highest ranking member of the United States Coast Guard. The Commandant is normally the only four-star Admiral in the Coast Guard and is appointed for a four-year term by the President of the United States upon confirmation by the United...

 by President Herbert Hoover
Herbert Hoover
Herbert Clark Hoover was the 31st President of the United States . Hoover was originally a professional mining engineer and author. As the United States Secretary of Commerce in the 1920s under Presidents Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge, he promoted partnerships between government and business...

 on 14 June 1932. As Commandant during the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

, he struggled with low budgets and limited appropriations. In response, Hamlet implemented a cost-cutting plan which called for decommissioning of vessels, closing of Coast Guard stations, manpower reductions, and a 25% reduction in expenditures.

Unfortunately, these measures led to calls to merge the Coast Guard with the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

. With the support of Chief of Naval Operations
Chief of Naval Operations
The Chief of Naval Operations is a statutory office held by a four-star admiral in the United States Navy, and is the most senior uniformed officer assigned to serve in the Department of the Navy. The office is a military adviser and deputy to the Secretary of the Navy...

, Admiral
Admiral is the rank, or part of the name of the ranks, of the highest naval officers. It is usually considered a full admiral and above vice admiral and below admiral of the fleet . It is usually abbreviated to "Adm" or "ADM"...

 William V. Pratt, however, Hamlet succeeded in persuading President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 and Congress from taking such action.

Later career

Upon completion of his term, he was succeeded as Commandant by Russell R. Waesche
Russell R. Waesche
Russell Randolph Waesche, Sr. . Waesche served as the eighth Commandant of the United States Coast Guard from 1936 to 1946, overseeing the service during World War II. He also holds the distinction of being the longest serving Commandant, serving ten years in command of the United States Coast Guard...

, and reverted in rank to Captain on January 1, 1936. He was retained on special duty in the office of Secretary of the Treasury
United States Secretary of the Treasury
The Secretary of the Treasury of the United States is the head of the United States Department of the Treasury, which is concerned with financial and monetary matters, and, until 2003, also with some issues of national security and defense. This position in the Federal Government of the United...

 Henry Morgenthau, Jr.
Henry Morgenthau, Jr.
Henry Morgenthau, Jr. was the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury during the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt. He played a major role in designing and financing the New Deal...

. He also served as Chairman of the Personnel Advisory Committee to the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, which was responsible for studying maritime issues and recommending legislation on improving the United States Merchant Marine
United States Merchant Marine
The United States Merchant Marine refers to the fleet of U.S. civilian-owned merchant vessels, operated by either the government or the private sector, that engage in commerce or transportation of goods and services in and out of the navigable waters of the United States. The Merchant Marine is...


The Creed of the United States Coast Guardsman

The following creed was authored by Admiral Hamlet in 1938:

I am proud to be a United States Coast Guardsman.

I revere that long line of expert seamen who by their devotion to duty and sacrifice of self have made it possible for me to be a member of a service honored and respected, in peace and war, throughout the world.

I never, by word or deed, will bring reproach upon the fair name of my service, nor permit others to do so unchallenged.

I will cheerfully and willingly obey all lawful orders.

I will always be on time to relieve, and shall endeavor to do more, rather than less, than my share.

I will always be at my station, alert and attending to my duties.

I shall, so far as I am able, bring to my seniors solutions, not problems.

I shall live joyously, but always with due regard for the rights and privileges of others.

I shall endeavor to be a model citizen in the community in which I live.

I shall sell my life dearly to an enemy of my country, but give it freely to rescue those in peril.

With God's help, I shall endeavor to be one of His Noblest Works...



Hamlet retired from the U.S. Coast Guard on September 1, 1938, just after his 64th birthday. By virtue of his service as Commandant, his retired rank would have been Rear Admiral
Rear admiral (United States)
Rear admiral is a naval commissioned officer rank above that of a commodore and captain, and below that of a vice admiral. The uniformed services of the United States are unique in having two grades of rear admirals.- Rear admiral :...

; he was, however, promoted to Vice Admiral
Vice admiral (United States)
In the United States Navy, the United States Coast Guard, the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps, and the United States Maritime Service, vice admiral is a three-star flag officer, with the pay grade of...

 in recognition of his four decades of service. Upon his death at the age of 79, he was interred at Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington County, Virginia, is a military cemetery in the United States of America, established during the American Civil War on the grounds of Arlington House, formerly the estate of the family of Confederate general Robert E. Lee's wife Mary Anna Lee, a great...

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