Dear Jack: Is the Coast Guard a Real Branch of Service?

August 4, 2023Jack Mandaville
jack mandaville

Marine Corps veteran and amateur life coach Jack Mandaville has all the right answers to life's toughest questions.

Dear Jack,

I’m having a debate with my roommate, and we need your input. Is the Coast Guard a real branch of service?

Thanks ahead,

BM3 Gary Francis

Hi Larry!

It just took me approximately 15 seconds to google the answer to your question and, yes, the United States Coast Guard is a real branch of service and doubles as a federal law enforcement agency according to Titles 10 and 14 of the United States Code. Boom. There’s your answer. 

But if the intention for your question was less legal technicalities and more meant to be a condescending shot at the Coast Guard, then I can engage you in that, too. Let’s create a scoring system to see how the Coast Guard matches up against other branches. 


The Navy, your branch, certainly has the Coast Guard beat in the quantity of movies made about sailors doing sailory things. Like 2000’s Men of Honor, which starred Cuba Gooding Jr. as Carl Brashear — who overcame systemic racism to become the Navy’s first African-American master diver. Let’s not forget about 2001’s Pearl Harbor which starred Cuba Gooding Jr. as Doris Miller, a Navy cook who shot down Japanese planes during the Pearl Harbor attack and received the Navy Cross for his heroism. The scene depicted by Gooding was masterfully acted in a movie that was fuckin’ terrible in every other regard. Then there’s 2002’s Boat Trip with Cuba Gooding Jr. as Jerry Robinson, a guy that goes on an all-gay cruise with his friend Nick Ragoni (played by fellow accused rapist Horatio Sanz) in order to pick up chicks by lying to them about his sexual orientation. And last, there’s 2012’s Act of Valor which was essentially a feature-length recruiting commercial for the Navy and utilized actual Navy SEALs as the main cast in one of the worst collective performances in the history of cinema — a movie that could have been saved if they cast Cuba Gooding Jr. 

But as for quality, the US Coast Guard had 2006’s The Guardian depicting USCG rescue swimmers performing death-defying acts in order to save their fellow man. Plus it stars Ashton Kutcher at the peak of his Punk’d fame. 

One point goes to the Coast Guard.

Viral Videos

The United States Marine Corps is no stranger to viral videos. Perhaps some of the most notable ones are “Marine throws puppy off cliff,” “Marines give a golden shower to dead Taliban guy,” and “Marine officer tanks career for the lulz by going on anti-authority rant.” And, as honorable mention, I’m going to toss in “Momma Dog” because that shit was just heartwarming. 

The Marines are masters of incidents depicting them in a controversial light. The very notion of the morality of unbecoming behavior was covered in 1992’s A Few Good Men, which was a breakout role for Cuba Goodding Jr. who played Marine Cpl. Carl Edward Hammaker. 

Though the Marines have many videos showing them engaged in questionable activities, the Coast Guard has the mother of all badass viral military videos. 

In 2019, a video surfaced of US Coast Guardsmen jumping on top of a moving drug-smuggling submarine off the coast of Colombia and seizing the boat that had an estimated $232 million worth of cocaine in it. While the United States missed out on a successful delivery of some high-quality yay-yay, we did get to enjoy one of the most badass and fearless military engagements in the history of viral videos. 

One point goes to the Coast Guard. 


There is no shortage of great Americans who served in the United States Army. Twenty-four of our 46 presidents served in the Army or some sort of land militia. Legendary American writers like Kurt Vonnegut, J.D. Salinger, and Marty Skovlund Jr. have drawn inspiration from their Army service in their storytelling. Musical greats Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, and Kris Kristofferson all served in our nation’s largest branch. Athletic heroes like Jackie Robinson, Rocky Marciano, and Pat Tillman all raised their right hand to join the Army. Acclaimed filmmakers and actors like Mel Brooks, Clint Eastwood, and James Earl Jones also served in the US Army. 

It was James Earl Jones who co-starred in 1998’s Coming to America, the first movie credit for a young, up-and-coming actor named Cuba Gooding Jr. 

But the Coast Guard has one name to rule them all. Jeff Bridges. The Dude. The legend. He once wore the Coast Guard’s blue and orange.  

One point goes to the Coast Guard.  

Real estate

If you join the Air Force you’re likely to get stationed in an exotic place like Minot, North Dakota. If you somehow get lucky, you might have a sliver of a chance of getting stationed at JB Charleston. 

I was just in Charleston, South Carolina, for the first time last week. What an amazing gem of a community — the food, the history, and the Southern hospitality. As I was walking the storied pier, I saw none other than a group of US Coast Guardsmen catching a tan on their docked boat. Their hot, glistening bodies popped in the Southern humidity. They were happy. They were beautiful. They were everything in that town. 

South Carolina is also the birthplace of James Robert “Radio” Kennedy, a developmentally disabled man whose love of his local high school football team inspired a community, as depicted by Cuba Gooding Jr. in 2003’s Radio. 

One point goes to the Coast Guard. 


The Coast Guard has never been to space. But then again, neither has the US Space Force. And for that matter, neither has Cuba Gooding Jr. 

One point goes to the Coast Guard because going to space isn’t expected of them and they’ve literally done just as much in space as the branch who is supposed to be doing stuff in space. 

Okay, Barry. I hope this answered your question. The US Coast Guard is the best branch in the Armed Forces. Have fun painting the side of whatever shithole ship you’re on in some crappy port while the Coast Guard is out there doing sexy stuff to protect the American people.

I love you,

Jack Manford Mandaville I

Read Next: Dear Jack: I Got Rejected from the Military

Jack Mandaville
Jack Mandaville

Jack Mandaville is a contributor at Coffee or Die. He liked being a Marine but loves being a civilian that does commentary on military culture because there’s no real sacrifice involved. He’s a satirical writer, entertainer, and amateur provocateur. His only real love outside his work opportunities is falling asleep to Netflix.

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