The Silver Fins Association is a division of the Coast Guard Aviation Association, also the home of the Ancient Order of The Pterodactyls. Members of the Silver Fins come from the ranks of the Coast Guard Helicopter Rescue Swimmer Program which began in 1985, following the sinking of the Marine Electric in the Atlantic. To date there have been over 1000 graduates of the ASM / AST Rescue Swimmer School. Some started their careers at the Navy “PR” School in Lakehurst New Jersey, attended Navy Rescue Swimmer School in Pensacola, Florida. Now the Coast Guard combines AST and Helicopter Rescue Swimmer School at ATTC, Elizabeth City, North Carolina.

Rescue Swimmer Roster
History of Rescue Swimmers
Retired Rescue Swimmer Hats & Patches

The Retired Swimmer Patch design originates from the Coast Guard RS wings. You may have noticed that the fins are inverted; this signifies that they won’t be used anymore, as in “I’ve hung up my fins..”

The skull with the red bandanna represents the injury and death many of us have dealt with in our careers. It’s not something most of us talk about openly, but when we’re together for any amount of time, the stories start and you can hear some ‘colorful’ things. Many of the first 50 or so swimmers that I know, and probably more, have experiences and injuries that will affect them the rest of their lives. Most don’t complain, it’s just a cost of doing a job most of us were eager to jump into, pardon the pun..

The blue ‘Star Of Life’ represents the level of medical training we underwent in order to treat our customers once we arrived to do our job. From routine medi-vacs, to life saving procedures such as CPR, we did what was needed.

The wreath behind the skull and wings represents successful completion of a race well run. I’ve heard Search and Rescue described as a few precious moments of terror, surrounded by hours and hours of terrifying boredom. How many times did you get your feet on the ground, and think, “Crap, did we just DO THAT?”