The Swamp Angels

Just over 70 years ago, the United States Congress declared war on Japan and entered World War II. Those who worked to keep the Gulf Coast secure at that time are seldom recognized for their efforts. Early in the war, there were as many as 10 German U-boats traversing the Gulf of Mexico. During May of 1942 the Germans sunk over 50 oil tankers and cargo ships as they left the area carrying supplies for the Allied forces.

A little known group of local men were enlisted to patrol the area. They were specifically selected because of their knowledge of the swamps and the barrier islands of southern Louisiana. The men ranged in age from 18 to 65. They were officially called the U.S. Coast Guard Beach Patrol Unit but were more familiarly known as the Cajun Coast Guard.

Although the group was formed to watch for German submarines, their impact was felt even more so via their rescue efforts of almost three dozen aviators that crashed into the swamps during training missions from the Lake Charles Army Flying School. The rescued aviators gave the group yet another deserved nickname, the Swamp Angels.

While travelers cannot visit any monument erected to commemorate the efforts of these men, they can drive the Creole Nature Trail scenic byway in southwest Louisiana to visit the marshes and bayous where these heroic angels served their country.

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