U.S. Coast Guard Clan Badge imageFrequently Asked Questions, Gen'l

For additional FAQs and info, also see:
-- Pipes FAQs
-- Parts of the Bagpipe
-- Drum FAQs

What is the Coast Guard Pipe Band?
The Coast Guard Pipe Band is an unofficial, volunteer, organization affiliated with the U.S. Coast Guard, which is organized as a Florida non-profit corporation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The Coast Guard Pipe Band has been recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a tax-exempt organization.

Who can be a member of the Coast Guard Pipe Band?
Membership in the U.S. Coast Guard Pipe Band is open to active duty, reserve and retired members of the U.S. Coast Guard, male or female, officer or enlisted, honorably discharged wartime veterans of the Coast Guard and to members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Currently, we currently have over seventy members including active duty, retired, reserve and Auxiliary members, male and female, ranging in rank from Seaman Apprentice to Captain with just about everything in between.

Do you have to be of Scottish descent to be a member?b
Absolutely not! Membership in the Coast Guard Pipe Band is open to any person meeting the membership requirements regardless of race, color, national origin, ethnic origin, age, religion, sex, handicap or marital status.

What tartan does the Coast Guard Pipe Band wear?
The Coast Guard Pipe Band wears the "U.S. Coast Guard Tartan," which was adopted as the official tartan of the U.S. Coast Guard on May 1, 2002 by the Commandant, Admiral James Loy.

What uniform does the Coast Guard Pipe Band wear?
Members of the Coast Guard Pipe Band wear the uniform and insignia to which they are entitled as active duty, reserve, retired, or Auxiliary members of the Coast Guard or honorably discharged war time veterans of the Coast Guard, as specified in the Coast Guard Uniform Regulations (COMDTINST 1020.6 series) and Coast Guard Auxiliary Manual, modified for wear with the kilt as set forth in the Coast Guard Pipe Band Uniform Regulations.

Doesn't the provisions of Title 10, U.S. Code prohibit the wearing of military uniform items with civilian clothing such as kilts?
No, that question contains two popular misconceptions. First, the provisions of Title 10, Sections 771, only prohibit the wearing of the uniform or a distinctive part of the uniform, of the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine Corps, or of a uniform any part of which is similar to a distinctive part of such uniforms, by any person who is not a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marine Corps. Although it prohibits the wearing of the uniform or articles of uniform by civilians, it says nothing about the wearing of civilian clothing with the uniform. That misconception arose during the 1960's and 1970's when that law was used to prohibit the wearing of uniform items by civilians who often combined wearing articles of uniform with civilian clothes.

Second, a kilt, when worn as a prescribed part of a uniform, is not "civilian clothing." After all, an "article of uniform" is nothing more than an article of clothing of particular pattern, color or appearance which is prescribed to be worn as part of the official or distinctive clothes or outfit of a particular group, such as police, firefighters or members of a military organization, to identify them as members of that group or organization. Kilts, of a specified tartan, have been worn as part of the uniform by members of the Armed Forces of Great Britain, Scotland, Ireland, Canada and other nations for hundreds of years. Kilts have also been regularly worn as part of U.S. military uniforms since the earliest days of the Republic. When prescribed as part of the uniform of a military organization, a kilt is no more an article of "civilian clothing" than a white dress shirt, tuxedo shirt, neck tie, pair of trousers or similar item which, when so prescribed and worn, become part of the uniform.

What precedent is there for wearing a kilt as part of a U.S. military uniform?
There is plenty of precedent. In addition to historic records of pipers wearing kilts with U.S. military uniforms going back to the American Revolution and U.S. Civil War, the modern era has seen official recognition of U.S. Army pipe bands wearing uniform kilts with U.S. military uniforms organized by the 2nd infantry Division, the 5th Infantry Division, the 8th Infantry Division, the 31st infantry Division, the 42nd Infantry Division, and the Sixth Army. The U.S. Army currently recognizes the right of members of the pipe bands of 191st Army Band, U.S. Army Reserve; 59th Army Band, California National Guard; and Oregon National Guard Reserve to wear kilts of a prescribed pattern with their Army uniforms.

The U.S. Air Force Pipe Band wore their uniform kilts with articles of U.S. Air Force uniform at the White House and when performing through out the 1960's as does the U.S. Air Force Reserve Pipe Band today.

Moreover, the official uniform regulations of all the Armed Forces recognize uniforms worn by members of bands as a "special uniform situation." For example, the red jackets worn by members of the Marine Corps Band have no parallel in the uniforms worn by other members of the Marine Corps and, therefore, would be "civilian clothes" if not prescribed as part of their uniform by the uniform regulations.  Members of the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy Bands as well as members of the U.S. Coast Guard Band are also authorized to wear articles of uniform and insignia that differ significantly from those prescribed in their respective uniform regulations for other members of their service.

How can retired and honorably discharged wartime veterans of the Coast Guard wear the Coast Guard uniform?
Although the Coast Guard uniform is entitled to the same protection under Title 10 as the uniforms of the Army, Navy or Marine Corps (14 U.S.C.  484), any member who has served honorably in the Coast Guard during time of war shall, when not on active service, whether or not on the retired list, be entitled to bear the official title and, upon occasions of ceremony, to wear the uniform of the highest rank or rating held and, any member on the retired list shall be entitled to wear the uniform of his rank or rating.  (14 U.S.C.  483) While not all veterans are "wartime" veterans, the concept of service during time of war is broadly defined and includes periods of declared national emergency. It is not necessary to have served in combat to qualify as a wartime veteran.

How does a national band get together for practice?
Not very often! The intent is that the entire band will perform as a unit a few times a year. The rest of the time, regional band detachments will support Coast Guard, Coast Guard Auxiliary and Coast Guard Foundation activities in their area. The Pipe Major provides standard tune settings and tapes/CD'S as to how they should be played. The lead drummer does the same thing. Regional detachments get together to practice and perform as often as circumstances permit. We try to plan national performances with enough lead-time so that the band can practice as a unit prior to performing.

How is the Coast Guard Pipe Band organized?
The pipe band is organized on a national basis. Our members are located throughout the country. We have band detachments, organized on a regional basis, in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, North Central, South Central, Southwest and Pacific Northwest areas of the country.

What is the purpose of the Coast Guard Pipe Band?
The Mission of the Coast Guard Pipe Band is to promote greater public recognition and appreciation of the history, traditions, contributions, sacrifices, roles and missions of the men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard, by various activities including, but not limited to, participation of the Pipe Band in memorial services, military balls, highland games, patriotic and military parades, public ceremonies, public concerts, Commissioning Ceremonies for Coast Guard vessels and units, Change of Command Ceremonies, Retirement Ceremonies, funerals of Coast Guard members, or similar ceremonies and events in which any active, reserve or auxiliary component of the Coast Guard or U.S. Armed Forces is participating. We also support the public relations, recognition and recruiting activities of the Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary. The Coast Guard Pipe Band also supports the activities, goals and missions of the Coast Guard Foundation and will provide financial support to the Coast Guard Foundation whenever possible.

What does the Coast Guard Pipe Band do?
The Coast Guard Pipe Band marches annually as a full band at the Grand Haven Coast Guard Festival and the Coast Guard National Memorial, a national event held annually to honor the men and woman of the Coast Guard. Band members have piped at a number of 9/11 memorial services, piped at the ceremony commissioning a Joint Coast Guard-Marine Corps unit, piped at annual memorial services for Coast Guard members who died aboard the CGC BLACKTHORN and CGC WHITE ALDER as well as Royal Navy sailors buried in the U.S. who died in WWII, piped at the funerals of deceased members of the Coast Guard and other branches of the Armed Forces, piped at a memorial ceremony remembering those killed in the Vietnam War, piped in support of Coast Guard Auxiliary public relations activities, piped at the launching of the CGC ALDER, play at numerous Coast Guard change of command and retirement ceremonies and piped at a number of ceremonies honoring members of the Armed Forces as they departed for Iraq. Band members have also played at a number of Coast Guard Foundation Dinners and CG Officer Association formal dinners and the dedication of a Coast Guard Museum in the Fifth District.

The band also participated in the full dress military funeral of the Coast Guard's only MIA at Arlington National Cemetery. The band plans to raise funds and support projects that enhance the lives and well being of all Coast Guard members, and their families; and, to promote greater public recognition and awareness of the sacrifices, services and accomplishments of the men and women of the Coast Guard, in war and peace. We will also provide detachments of pipers and drummers to support ceremonies and functions of the Coast Guard, Coast Guard Reserve and Coast Guard Auxiliary such as changes of command, retirements, dining-ins, award ceremonies, parades and similar events.

The Coast Guard Pipe Band also participates in a number of public events. The Coast Guard Pipe Band has marched in a series of Mardi Gras parades and plans to participate regularly at a limited number of major highland games starting with the Stone Mountain Highland Games in 2004.

The Coast Guard Pipe Band is gradually becoming an important part of the ceremonial life of the U.S. Coast Guard around the country. Over the next several years we plan to continue and expand our activities in support of active duty and reserve units as well as in support of the Coast Guard Auxiliary and Coast Guard Foundation.

Our long-term goals also include eventual participation by the Coast Guard Pipe Band in the Edinborough Military Tattoo. The Edinborough Military Tattoo has been held annually at Scotland's Edinborough Castle for more than fifty years and is the premier military tattoo in the world. Participants include pipe bands and military bands from the British Army as well as military bands from throughout the world. The live audience during the three-week tattoo exceeds two hundred thousand people while the television audience exceeds 100 million people throughout the world. Additional millions of people see the tattoo through the wide sale of videotapes of the performances. Past participants at the tattoo have included detachments from the U.S. Army Band and the U.S. Marine Corps Band. However, the U.S. Coast Guard Pipe Band would be the first U.S. military pipe band to participate in the tattoo. If possible, we also hope to include not only a performance and marching display by the Coast Guard Pipe Band but also the joint participation of and a performance by the U.S. Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard Color Party and Silent Drill Team.

We also plan to work closely with Coast Guard Public Affairs and Coast Guard Recruiters to support their efforts whenever possible. Essentially, although NOT an official Coast Guard Pipe Band, we see ourselves doing the same type of performances that an official Coast Guard Pipe Band would do.

What is the Coast Guard Foundation?
Founded in 1969, the Coast Guard Foundation is a public, non-profit organization that supports the Coast Guard on many levels. The mission of the Coast Guard Foundation is to raise funds and support projects that enhance the lives and well-being of all Coast Guard members, and their families; to address needs that cannot be met through the Coast Guard's budget, especially for morale, welfare and recreational purposes; and, to promote greater public recognition and awareness of the sacrifices, services and accomplishments of the men and women of the Coast Guard, in war and peace.

One of the purposes of the Coast Guard Pipe Band is to support the mission and activities of the Coast Guard Foundation. The Coast Guard Pipe Band intends to provide financial support to the Coast Guard Foundation by donating any funds raised in excess of the Band's needs to the Foundation.

The Coast Guard Foundation is incorporated under the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Contributions to the Coast Guard Foundation are deductible in accordance with section 501(c)(3) of the IRS Code. The Coast Guard Foundation is also a Combined Federal Campaign participant, #1009. For more information about the Coast Guard Foundation, go to http://www.cgfdn.org/

I served in another branch of the Armed Forces. How can I join the Coast Guard Pipe Band?
All honorably discharged veterans, especially those who served in time of war, are welcome. In order to qualify as a member and wear the uniform, however, you will have to join the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

If I join the band as a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, can I wear the awards and qualification badges I earned when on active duty in another service?
The Coast Guard Pipe Band follows the requirements of the Coast Guard Uniform Regulations (COMDTINST 1020.6 series) and the Coast Guard Auxiliary Manual with regard to the wearing of ribbons and devices. Generally speaking, you may wear, on the left breast of the uniform, any individual U.S. and foreign ribbons and awards to which you are entitled, in order of precedence, in rows of up to three ribbons, without intervals between ribbons or rows of ribbons. You may also wear command at sea/ashore insignia and up to two other breast devices of choice to which you are entitled. Authorized devices include those earned during U.S. military service such as the Combat Infantry and Medic Badges, aviation wings, Air Force specialty badges, pathfinder, airborne and air assault badges, submarine dolphins and similar devices. Sew on patches such as ranger, Special Forces tabs, honor guard, and unit insignia may not be worn.

I have never served in the Armed Forces. Can I still be a member of the Coast Guard Pipe band?
Yes, you can join the Coast Guard Pipe Band by first becoming a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

What is the Coast Guard Auxiliary?
The Coast Guard Auxiliary is a non-military element of the U.S. Coast Guard established by the U.S. Congress in 1939. All U.S. citizens, age 17 and older, are eligible for membership in the Coast Guard Auxiliary, including active duty, reserve, retired and honorably discharged members of the uniformed services.

The Coast Guard Auxiliary, currently about 35,000 members strong, assists the Coast Guard in performing any non-military, non-law enforcement Coast Guard function, power, duty, role, mission or operation as authorized by law such as public education, vessel safety checks, safety patrols, search and rescue, maritime security and marine environmental protection. For more information about the Coast Guard Auxiliary go to: www.cgaux.org/

If I join the Coast Guard Pipe Band, what grooming standards will I have to comply with?
Active duty, reserve and retired members of the Coast Guard must comply with the grooming standards set forth in the Coast Guard Uniform Regulations. When wearing the uniform as part of the Coast Guard Pipe Band, other members should adhere to the grooming standards set forth in the Coast Guard Auxiliary Manual. Generally, men's hair should be neat and clean, not touch the collar, and be away from the ears. Beards and sideburns should be neatly trimmed. Women's hair should not be below the collar or extend below the eyebrows when the hat is removed. In addition, men are prohibited from wearing earrings when in uniform. Women may wear one pair of small (one quarter of an inch) gold, silver or pearl earrings of the round ball type.

Necklaces and neck chains may not be visible. Articles such as pens, watch chains, cell phones, pagers, water bottles, pins, combs, etc., should not be worn or carried exposed on the uniform.

Members of the Coast Guard Pipe Band, while participating in CG Pipe Band activities and while engaged in local travel to and from such activities in Coast Guard Pipe Band uniform, will adhere to the applicable uniform regulations and grooming standards and will, at all times, present a military appearance and conduct themselves in a military manner.

I already belong to a pipe band. Can I join the Coast Guard Pipe Band and still belong to my other band?
Yes, in fact, we encourage our members to be members of other pipe bands whenever possible. For those who want to learn to play the pipes or drums, this is an excellent way to take lessons and gain experience in marching and playing as part of a pipe band.

I don't play either the pipes or the drums; can I still join the Coast Guard Pipe Band?
Membership is open to those who are otherwise qualified but who are not proficient in the playing of bagpipes or drums but who can serve the Pipe Band in other capacities such as color guards, liaison coordination and similar support functions.  These functions include: (1) recruiting and qualification of Band Members; (2) fund raising and public affairs; (3) the procurement and maintenance of band equipment and uniforms; (4) receipt, scheduling and coordination of requests for performances and appearances of the Pipe Band, Band detachments and Pipers; (5) publication of a schedule of performances and appearances; and, (6) coordination and maintenance of liaison with the Coast Guard Foundation, Coast Guard, Coast Guard Reserve, and Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Non-playing members wear the same uniform and insignia as other members of the Coast Guard Pipe Band.

Why does a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces such as the Coast Guard have a Pipe Band?
Although we are not, officially, a Coast Guard Pipe Band, the tradition of military pipe bands has a long history in the United States.  In 1861, the 79th New York Infantry marched off to war wearing kilts to the accompaniment of their pipes and drums.  President Lincoln became quite fond of them and they often played for him at the White House.  During World War II, U.S. troops often served alongside Scottish troops and learned to appreciate the martial qualities of the Great Highland Bagpipe.  Following the war, General Mark Clark organized a U.S. Army pipe band as part of the Sixth Army.  Other divisions of the U.S. Army formed pipe bands throughout the 1940's and 1950's.

The U.S. Air Force Pipe Band was organized in 1961, wearing the Mitchell Tartan in honor of general Billy Mitchell. The Air Force Pipe Band was a great favorite of President John Kennedy who often invited them to play at the White House.  The nation watched as a piper from the Air Force Pipe Band played a lament at the Arlington graveside of President Kennedy.  Although the Air Force Pipe Band was disbanded, that image captured the imagination of the nation.  Their tradition lives on, not only in the modern day U.S. Air Force reserve Pipe Band, wearing their distinctive Air Force Reserve Tartan, but also in the pipe bands of police and fire departments throughout the country.

Since that image of the lone piper at Arlington, it has become part of American tradition for deceased police and fire fighters who die in the line of duty to be accompanied to their final resting place by their department's pipes and drums.

The pipe band has also become a well-established part of U.S. Armed Forces tradition.  In addition to the pipe bands of military academies such as West Point, Annapolis, The Citadel and VMI, there are military pipe bands serving with the 191st Army Band (established 1962), the Oregon State National Guard Reserve (established 1971) and the recently formed pipe band of the 401st Air Support Group, Texas State Guard.

As both a law enforcement organization and a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, therefore, it is entirely appropriate for the U.S. Coast Guard to have a pipe band, albeit an unofficial one.

Will the U.S. Coast Guard pay for my uniforms and travel expenses in connection with Coast Guard Pipe Band activities?
No, the Coast Guard Pipe Band is not an official part of the U.S. Coast Guard and receives no financial support, either appropriated or non-appropriated funds, from the U.S. Coast Guard.  Coast Guard Pipe Band members who can afford to fund the acquisition of their own kilts and uniforms, and to pay for their own travel expenses, are asked to do so.  Such expenditures may be tax deductible to the extent permitted by the Internal Revenue Code.  Paying for kilts and uniforms, as well as travel expenses, for those members who can not afford to pay for their own expenses is one of the purposes for which the Coast Guard Pipe Band uses the limited funds it has available.

I don't want to join the Coast Guard Pipe Band but I would like to know, how can I otherwise support and help the band?
The Coast Guard Pipe Band is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a tax-exempt organization. Therefore, donations of money and property to the Coast Guard Pipe Band qualify as tax deductible to the extent permitted by the Internal Revenue Code.  There are a number of ways this you can make a donation to the Coast Guard Pipe Band.

First, you can buy something that the band needs and donate it to the band. The band has a continuing need for Coast Guard Tartan kilts so you could donate the cost ($300) of a kilt to the Coast Guard Pipe Band Kilt Fund maintained by Alexis Malcolm Kilts (Ph: 305-248-0591, 19507 SW 325 Lane, Homestead FL 33030, e-mail clanmalcolm@yahoo.com. The band also needs to buy snare, tenor and bass drums for regional detachments around the country so you could buy a drum and donate it to the band.  The Coast Guard Pipe Band uses Andante Reactor snare drums ($499), Andante model 301, 16" x 14" tenor drums ($377) and Andante model 201 28 x 12" bass drums ($485). All drums are black shells with black hardware. For more information, go to www.drumsplus.com/

One of the most expensive items our members have to purchase is a Coast Guard Pipe Band regulation pattern military hair sporran.  The band has a continuing need to maintain an inventory of these sporrans for new members with the band quartermaster.  If you would like to donate a sporran, you can either purchase one and donate it to the band or send a check for $250, payable to "Coast Guard Pipe Band" and we will purchase the sporran.

The Coast Guard Pipe Band is also forming a color guard and needs a 4 x 6 U.S Parade Flag, parade staff and case, a 4 x 6 U.S. Coast Guard Parade Flag, parade staff and case, a 4 x 6 Coast Guard Auxiliary Parade Flag, parade staff and case, flag carriers and webbing for the color guard and similar supplies.

The Coast Guard Pipe Band also needs funds to acquire piping and drumming supplies, uniforms and equipment for new members as well as to underwrite travel expenses for those members who cannot afford to wholly fund their own travel to Coast Guard Pipe Band events.

The Coast Guard Pipe Band will only accumulate funds raised to the extent that such funds will cover the next twelve months anticipated expenditures.  All funds raised in excess of such anticipated expenditures will be donated annually to the Coast Guard Foundation.

If you would like to donate any of these items or make a cash donation, contact CDR Andy Anderson USCG RET at aanderson@houckanderson.com

How can I learn more about the Coast Guard Pipe Band?
Go to our web site at www.uscgpipeband.org/


U.S. Coast Guard Pipe Band, Inc.
Suite 300
200 South Biscayne Boulevard
Miami, FL 33131-2332