In 1933, the Chief Petty Officers organized themselves into an Association that would make their issues and concerns known to Coast Guard Headquarters. It was an effort of small groups gathered along district lines. They did not initially receive full endorsement by CGHQ. However, the Association went forward anyway and in December 1933, met at the War Memorial Building in Baltimore, Md. This meeting was described as “the most significant of any previous meeting in the affairs of CPO’s and the real corner stone of the organization was laid.” However, the actual establishment date was March 25, 1933, at the Coast Guard Depot at Curtis Bay, Md., which allowed Curtis Bay to lay claim to being the first CPOA Chapter in the Coast Guard.
They organized to “encourage fidelity, integrity to the Service, and better understanding and fellowship, and to advance the best interests of the enlisted personnel of the Coast Guard, especially of those associated as members of this organization, and to extend all possible relief to their widows and children; to foster the cultivation of military discipline and true allegiance to the United States of America….”
The framers of the CPO Constitution drew their constitutional ideal from the U.S. Constitution and adopted the motto Ut Prosimus meaning “That we may be of Service.” There were 29 charter members in March 1933.
The CPOA was re-founded in 1969 after being disbanded during World War II. ADM Willard J. Smith officially recognized the CPOA and signed the Charter on April 7, 1969.