Celebrating 50 years of the Coast Guard Foundation

Posted on February 15, 2019

Fifty years ago, in the summer of 1969, the idea to form an independent organization which would support cadets at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy was born.

The seeds for the organization were planted some twenty-five years earlier during World War II. On board the Coast Guard transport HUNTER LIGGETT, a young Coast Guard lieutenant, George Holtzman met two Coast Guard members who would later become his lifelong friends, Samuel J. Silberman (Bud) and Fairleigh S. Dickinson, Jr.

In 1969, then-retired Captain Holtzman turned to his friends for support when he proposed a plan to help his alma mater, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. The school needed support, and Holtzman believed private resources could be cultivated to enrich cadets’ quality of life and enhance academic and athletic programs.

At the first board of directors meeting of the newly incorporated Coast Guard Academy Foundation, forty volunteers from all across the country gathered at the Coast Guard Academy. In addition to the three founders mentioned-Holtzman, Silberman and Dickinson- in attendance were G. William Miller, then-president of Textron and later U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Arnold Sobel, a retired Reserve Coast Guard Rear Admiral, and John Church, then active in the Coast Guard Auxiliary and a philanthropist with a strong interest in supporting education.

At the time, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy was a lean institution. Because of the Academy’s size, resources for other than government funding were limited. The Alumni Association could be counted on for its support, but the Academy needed resources for larger projects that could provide additional margin-of-excellence programs for the cadets.