Though it was only open for less than 20 years, a U.S. Coast Guard Air Station in Biloxi played a pivotal yet often overlooked role in saving lives and defending the Mississippi Coast during World War II.
Founded officially in 1915, the Coast Guard initially struggled to find its national service role. However, it eventually assumed the responsibilities of the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation, the Steamboat Inspection Service and the Lighthouse Service.
Ultimately, the Coast Guard's primary mission became enforcing the highly unpopular Prohibition Act. In 1925, over 125 personnel under the command of Captain S.P. Edmonds were stationed on Biloxi's Back Bay on Base 15. They operated a small fleet consisting of several small picket boats and a larger 165-foot Cutter to assist in Prohibition-related activities.
The 1930s & Prohibition in Mississippi
While this marked the Coast Guard's first official presence in Biloxi, it proved short-lived, as the repeal of Prohibition in 1933 led to Base 15's relocation to Pascagoula. However, that same year, Adolf Hitler's rise to power in Germany set the stage for World War II.
Despite the escalating tensions in Europe, the U.S. remained relatively aloof, and Biloxi continued to flourish as a seafood and industrial hub in Mississippi. With the increasing commerce and boating traffic, the Coast Guard was once again asked to establish a presence…