NEWSLETTER Winter 2019

In this issue

INSIDE THE EXHIBITS: Preliminary sketches reveal a National Coast Guard Museum visitor experience designed to engage, educate and inspire.

New Museum Association Chair | Alexander Hamilton Award
Black History Month | Lockheed Martin Pledge

From the president

Captain Pulver

Throughout my career in the Coast Guard, I participated in several Change of Command ceremonies in which the outgoing Captain handed over the vessel to the new skipper. When I found myself in that role, there was a common thread of gratitude for the leader and crew who came before me.

I feel the same way as I take leadership of the National Coast Guard Museum Association from its first President and CEO, Richard J. Grahn. In the CEO role since 2015, Dick has helped us to navigate complex requirements around permitting and successfully transitioned what was an exclusively volunteer-led effort into the professional organization we have today.

I am very excited about the prospects for the coming year, and I fully anticipate that we will continue the tremendous trajectory we have been on toward putting a shovel in the ground. The design of both the physical structure of the museum and the exhibits that will go inside are expected to be completed in 2019. Most importantly, we have the right team in place to raise the necessary funds through our capital campaign.

I am thrilled with our team, including you our supporters, that has come together around this common goal. Thank you for your continued commitment to making the museum a reality.

Semper Paratus,

CAPT. Wes Pulver, USCG (Ret.)



At its Annual Meeting in December 2018, the Board of Directors of the National Coast Guard Museum Association voted unanimously to elect Susan J. Curtin as its new Chair. Curtin, who has served on the organization’s Board since 2014 replaces James J. Coleman, Jr. as he becomes Chairman Emeritus. Curtin served as a Port Security Specialist in the Coast Guard Reserve for four years. She has an extensive background in corporate sales, marketing and non-profit management.

In addition to her new role on the Board of Directors, Curtin is President of the Kenrose Kitchen Table Foundation, which is the J.D. Power family foundation. She is a general partner in Power Family Enterprises LP and serves on several boards and committees, including as a member of the board of Boston Children’s Hospital Heart Center, Trustee of the College of the Holy Cross, and the Mass Golf Executive Committee.

Curtin says, “I know I speak for everyone at the Museum Association as I express my gratitude for Jimmy Coleman’s leadership, which helped us achieve the progress we have. His leadership as our first Chair paved the way for this project to proceed. This cause matters deeply to me and to my family, and I feel privileged to lead the Museum Association at a such a pivotal point.”

The leadership change comes as the Museum Association marks its most successful fundraising year to date, bringing the total amount committed to $42 million, including $20 million from the State of Connecticut for pedestrian access and the first $5 million of an anticipated $30 million in Federal support. 

“I joined the Board of Directors to be a part of the Museum effort,” Curtin said. “Given all of the recent progress we have achieved, it’s an exciting time to be assuming leadership. We have added capacity in the form of professional staff to help us achieve our objectives, and raising private funds to match the government funding is our focus as we head into 2019 with great expectations for what is to come.”

Alexander Hamilton Award 2019

Former Secretary of Homeland Security Thomas J. Ridge

Former Pennsylvania Governor and United States Secretary of Homeland Security, Thomas J. Ridge, has been selected as the 2019 recipient of the Alexander Hamilton Award, the most prestigious honor bestowed by the National Coast Guard Museum Association. The Hamilton Award is named in honor of Alexander Hamilton, who established the Revenue Cutter Service—a predecessor of the U.S. Coast Guard—in 1790. The award, given since 2015, recognizes an individual who has contributed outstanding service in support of the future National Coast Guard Museum.

Former Secretary Ridge has served as Co-Chair of the Museum Association Secretaries’ Circle since its inception in 2014. The Secretaries’ Circle supports the project in a variety of ways and is comprised of former Secretaries and Deputy Secretaries of Transportation and Homeland Security, the cabinet departments which have overseen the Coast Guard.

Previous recipients include James J. Coleman, Jr., J.D. Power III and Boysie Bollinger. The award will be presented on May 2, 2019 in Washington, D.C. at the National Maritime Historical Society dinner.

Read full press release

Inside the Exhibits

Preliminary sketches released

In December 2018, SEARCH, Inc. and AldrichPears Associates presented the 75% schematic drawings of the exhibits to the Coast Guard.

The December presentation was attended by 20 stakeholders including members of the Coast Guard Historian’s Office, curators, museum specialists, the Museum Exhibit Advisory Panel members and the Museum Association. The group refined the story lines with additional details and reviewed the latest floor plans examining gallery layouts and sketches.

The exhibit design goal is to put the visitor in the shoes of Coast Guard men and women, offering opportunities to solve problems, learn real skills and interact with virtual members of the service. The exhibit design team from AldrichPears presented several new conceptual sketches of how museum visitors might do just that. 

As a hub of experiential learning, the Museum will stimulate young minds and motivate the next generation of engineers, scientists, innovators and even Coast Guard service members. The exhibit designers unveiled their plans for the fifth floor science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) Discovery Center, which encompasses several simulators along with a Command Center in which students will develop problem-solving skills based on real-world scenarios.

Together, the galleries and programmatic spaces provide a varied STEM-based learning experiences at the STEM Discovery Center, and leadership development programming with public/private partnerships.

The conceptual exhibits and sketches above are subject to change, and may, or may not be used in the final exhibit design of the National Coast Guard Museum. The exhibit detail design is expected to be completed by the end of 2019. 

See more sketches at

Black History Month

Dr. Olivia Hooker (1915-2018)

Olivia Hooker and Aileen Anita Cooks aboard a training ship

Olivia Hooker and Aileen Anita Cooks aboard a training ship

Dr. Olivia Hooker, a Coast Guard pioneer, passed away in November 2018. Hooker was one of the first African American female members in the Coast Guard SPAR program during World War II. The United States Coast Guard Women’s Reserve was established in November 1942 and came to be known as SPAR,  the acronym derived from the translations of the Coast Guard’s motto, “Semper Paratus, Always Ready.” 

“I didn’t know anything about military life,” said Dr. Hooker in a 2013 interview. “When they told me to go to basic training, I took a trunk with all my luxuries in it. The seven other girls all had duffel bags.”

Growing up in Tulsa, OK, Hooker was six years old when one of the worst race riots in U.S. history broke out and destroyed much of a Tulsa neighborhood known as “Black Wall Street.” She hid under a table as a mob carrying torches destroyed her family’s home.

After earning her bachelor’s degree from Ohio State University, Hooker began teaching third grade in Columbus, OH. Hooker was initially denied when she tried to enlist in the Navy due to her race. In March 1945, Hooker was accepted into the Coast Guard.

“The Coast Guard recruiter was just so welcoming,” said Hooker. “She wanted to be the first one to enroll an African American.” 


After basic training, she specialized in the yeoman rate and went on to spend her entire service time in Boston, working in the separation center processing discharges.

In June 1946, the SPAR program was disbanded and Hooker earned the rank of petty officer 2nd class. As one of the last yeomen left in the office, she had to type up her own discharge.

Hooker went on to earn her master’s degree in psychological services from Teachers College at Columbia University, then received her doctorate as a school psychologist from the University of Rochester. Working as a professor in New York, Hooker had a remarkable career, finally retiring when she was 87 years old.


In 2015, a building was named in her honor at Coast Guard Station, NY in Staten Island. Later in her centennial year, the Dr. Olivia J. Hooker Training Center was dedicated at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Hooker’s trailblazing story will be celebrated in the Museum.

Lockheed Martin Pledges $1 Million to Campaign

Honoring its longstanding partnership with the Coast Guard, the Lockheed Martin Corporation has committed a leadership pledge of $1 Million. The investment in the museum, made at the end of 2018, is the largest to date from the defense industry. Lockheed Martin has an extraordinary history of supporting the armed services and recognizing their critical role to our Nation. 


“The National Coast Guard Museum will inspire young visitors to become our nation’s next problem solvers, innovators, and critical thinkers,” said Capt. Wes Pulver (USCG, Ret.), Museum Association President. “We are grateful for the generous support of Lockheed Martin toward this project that will bring to life the centuries of devotion and sacrifice by Coast Guard women and men, and highlight the innovation and technology that the Coast Guard has developed with industry partners like Lockheed Martin.”

The partnership between the Coast Guard and Lockheed Martin dates back to November 1943 when the first Sikorsky (a Connecticut-based Lockheed Martin subsidiary) YR-4B helicopter was flown by Coast Guard pilots. Demand for helicopters rose among the armed services following previous WWII attacks including Pearl Harbor and a June 1942 sinking of a major portion of the US Merchant Fleet by German U boats. The Navy employed Sikorsky helicopters for anti-submarine warfare, but from its earliest uses, Coast Guard leaders saw the importance of Sikorsky equipment for its Search and Rescue efforts.

The history and importance of the partnership will be highlighted in the museum’s five-story atrium where a Sikorsky HH-6OJ Jayhawk helicopter will be suspended and visible from each of the exhibit floors.

Lockheed Martin’s pledge helped the Museum Association to mark its most successful fundraising year ever, bringing the total amount committed to $42 million, including $20 million from the State of Connecticut for pedestrian access and the first $5 million of an anticipated $30 million in Federal support.

Read full press release