When the US Coast Guard Auxiliary was called upon to supply personnel to help protect the shores and rivers of the United States in 1942, men with many skills, and from many backgrounds enrolled. By June of 1942, Auxiliary patrols had rescued scores of torpedoed crews in the Florida Strait and the Gulf of Mexico. Military commanders began searching for sailboats and motor cruisers which were to be put to use for antisubmarine work. Most harbor patrol work was taken over by the USCG Auxiliary after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
A Philadelphia man, Alexander “Pete” Bauer joined the Auxiliary after an aborted attempt to enroll in the Navy. He joined a group of men with widely varied skills. There were former cab-drivers, mechanics, short-order cooks, salesmen, and engineers; not many of those had ever been on the water except maybe in small fishing boats. Those seasoned mariners who joined up also had varied backgrounds, from recreational fishermen, dinghy sailors and yachtsmen from posh clubs, cabin and motor cruiser skippers and sailors skilled at handling large vessels.
Bauer, by virtue of having a German name, was thoroughly vetted by the FBI. After he had enrolled his friends were closely questioned about his background. German spies and Nazi organizations had been active in areas along the East Coast even before the war broke out. “Pete” was found to be more than acceptable for duty in the USCG Auxiliary, and his knowldege and practical experience as a sailor were soon put to good use. He possessed good seamanship skills, as demonstrated to the Coast Guard in boat maneuvering and docking exercises and soon passed his skipper check-offs. He was given a schooner as his first command. He would later be assigned an ocean-going tugboat equipped for fire fighting and ice breaking, and subsequently an 80-foot first class yacht loaned to the government by Bill McCann, named Florence V. Bauer, on his various commands, with varied crews spent many hours patrolling the harbor in Philadelphia, along the reaches of the Delaware River and Bay, and out along the coastlines of New Jersey and Delaware. More about that brave work later.