So Others May Live: Coast Guard's Rescue Swimmers: Saving Lives, Defying Death

So Others May Live is the untold story of the history of the U.S. Coast Guard helicopter rescue swimmer. There are twelve heroic stories which chronicle a representation of the greatest maritime rescues attempted since the inception of the program in 1985. These feats, told through the eyes of the hero, reveal an understanding of how and why the rescuer, with flight crew assistance, risks his or her life to reach out to save a stranger. The events unfold in diverse geographic areas and environments: oceans, hurricanes, oil rigs, caves, sinking vessels, floods, Niagara Falls and in the aftermath of one of our countries worst natural disasters, Hurricane Katrina.

Working in conjunction with the Coast Guard Foundation, the former Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Governor Tom Ridge has penned a foreword for this book.

These events are true and classified as legitimate by the top rescue swimmers in the business. They support these accounts as being illustrative of the best of the best. This collection includes the story of the first woman rescue swimmer (in all the military services), the first Distinguished Flying Cross awarded to a swimmer and real cases that became catalysts for equipment changes and mandatory training scenarios implemented later in the Advanced Rescue Swimmer School. These stories reveal for the first time how swimmers deal with their own, raw feelings and emotional distress following difficult or tragic cases. Now, instead of leaving the service, they are assisted through their recovery by Critical Incident Stress Management counselors and return to work.

Mandated by Congress after the significant loss of life from the sinking of the vessel Marine Electric and coupled with findings of fact from the NTSB investigation of the Air Florida 737 crash into the District of Columbia's 14th Street bridge one year before, this book details, for the first time, the history of the program’s development and the need for hypothermic survivors to be rescued with new techniques. The accounts are supported by interviews from the "first five" swimmers and officers, founding fathers and men who were integral for the creation of this profession. Working from official documents, survivor and rescue swimmer interviews and period photographs, their courageous stories are told. So Others May Live also describes the program’s internal and external challenges, lessons learned, training, skills and the motivation required of a swimmer to risk his or her life and come back alive. The program, its men and women, are models for military services worldwide.

A portion of the author’s proceeds from the sale of this book were donated to the Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer School for the development of a new aquatic facility in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. The new facility opened in October of 2012.

So Others May Live is available in paperback and e-book from your local bookstore, The Lyons Press or on the Internet.


Hardcover & Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Lyons Press (September 2, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1599211599
ISBN-13: 978-1599211596

I just finished reading your book. I can not tell you how much I enjoyed and appreciated your writing. It was a tremendous tribute to the CG Swimmer program and the Coast Guard- it was also a real gift to the nation. I especially liked the detailed stories of the swimmers. They so need to have their stories told and their work to stand as a text book for all of those who follow. I so appreciate you writing about the Critical Incident Response Program-just so important.

Tom Young

Martha Laguardia-Kotite has perfectly captured the genesis of the legendary Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers. From their bare-bones beginning to The Perfect Storm off the Atlantic Coast; from the sea lion caves on the Oregon Coast to their heroic (and unacknowledged) work during Katrina; we follow these super heroes as they defy death on an almost routine basis.

Jay B. Lane

Amazon - Verified Purchase

THIS is a totally awesome book for a young man who is a future rescue swimmer with the USCG. Every type of rescue since the beginning of the team is noted in the various accounts. AND the book is autographed/ signed by the author.

Jean M. Bierbower

Amazon - Verified Purchase

I didn't realize how new the rescue swimmer program really was. This book provides an excellent history of the program, followed by some of the most hair-raising rescue cases in the Coast Guard's recent history. It is amazing how few people were behind the development and this program and the on-going success. A great read that provides insight into the Coast Guard's current standing in the military. Highly recommended!


Amazon - Verified Purchase

If you are a fan of action-packed, real-life drama on the high seas, then “So Other May Live” by Martha LaGuardia is the book for you. LaGuardia with her Coast Guard background, accurately captures the tension, teamwork, comradeship and humor that describes the Coast Guard’s search and rescue crews.

As someone who has been there, I appreciate the detail and accuracy “So Others May Live’ brings to each rescue account. LaGuardia’s literary abilities and insights place you right in the middle of the action. You can sense the stress and tension as the rescues unfold and feel the sense of elation and relief as the survivors are rescued.

I have had the privilege of meeting with Martha LaGuardia. She has a passion for writing and telling stories that keep you on the edge of your seat. Her insights into how Coast Guard aircrews work as a team and the challenges they face each day makes her uniquely qualified to write these stories. I highly recommend “So Others May Live.”

John Whiddon

Innovators: Rock Stars Of STEM

Meet an engineer who built bomb-defusing robots!

Learn about a boy whose paper airplane design earned a place in the Guinness World Records and led to his career as an aeronautical engineer.

Meet a woman who works in a secret world. Discover what technology everyday items like cars and cellphones have in common with the military.

Together with Engineers for America and the Air Force Armament Museum Foundation, I'm proud to introduce young adults to some of the most important innovators - men and women working in the fields of sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics - at the Air Force Research Lab in northwest Florida.


Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Air Force Armament Museum Foundation
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0692497978
ISBN-13: 978-0692497975

Excellent book. Really inspired my 8-year old. She asked so many good questions we had to put down the book for bedtime. I recommend it to expose children to science in an intriguing way that speaks to them.

Name Not Listed

Amazon Customer
Changing The Rules of Engagement by Martha LaGuardia-Kotite
Changing the Rules of Engagement

Changing the Rules of Engagement Inspiring Stories of Courage and Leadership (Forewords by DNC Chair and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Congressman Jeff Miller)

Changing the Rules of Engagement

Changing the Rules of Engagement brings to life the authentic, vivid stories of leadership from inspiring and adventurous women who achieved the extraordinary by serving their country in the U.S. military. These women shattered the glass ceiling and performed extraordinary feats by refusing to take “no” for an answer and learning how to lead in traditionally male-dominated environments. Martha LaGuardia-Kotite skillfully captures their leadership lessons, struggles, and successes—showing how courageous and tenacious women can achieve their goals and help change policy, insights also applicable to today’s leaders in corporate and business boardrooms.

Whether soaring into outer space with the second woman to command a space shuttle or plunging to the depths of the Atlantic Ocean with a combat veteran special operations diver, these profiles in leadership highlight a range of powerful examples: from Vivien Crea, a vice commandant of the Coast Guard, who rose to the highest position of any woman in the history of the U.S. military, to Tammy Duckworth, who demonstrated her resilience after being shot down while piloting a helicopter in Iraq and went on to serve as a U.S. senator. Also included are the inspirational stories of women Marines and the first women members of the military service academies’ gender-integrated classes, who recall the highs and lows of their trailblazing journey.

Representative of a widely diverse group of enlisted women and officers of different races and cultures, these women have succeeded since the mid-1970s at combating prejudices and aiding change in the military culture with grit, intelligence, leadership, and honor.

Martha LaGuardia-Kotite’s bold leadership style empowered her to become one of the first women officers to serve aboard two Coast Guard cutters with all-male crews. Rising to the senior rank of captain in the U.S. Coast Guard, she served with distinction for twenty-nine years at sea and ashore. A TEDx and keynote speaker, empowerment enthusiast, and journalist with an MA from Harvard University, LaGuardia-Kotite is the author of the award-winning So Others May Live: Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers Saving Lives, Defying Death and has written for numerous publications and newspapers, including the Boston Globe.


Hardcover: 204 pages
Publisher: Potomac Books Inc. (May 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 159797689X
ISBN-13: 978-1597976893

Paperback: 210 pages
Publisher: Potomac Books Inc. (May 1, 2021; U.K. July 1, 2021)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1640124268
ISBN-13: 978-1-64012-426-4

Martha's new book on women in the military comes at an exciting time for our nation and the world. She has the ability to engage the reader in every detail. The stories are always encouraging and inspirational.

Derek D.

Amazon Customer

You’ll feel the tension facing the first female in the U.S. military to become a demonstration acrobatics Thunderbird pilot. You’ll feel the raw emotion of the first Navy nurse corps officer to be appointed as commanding officer of a medical surgical unit as she treated the severely wounded in Iraq. You'll admire one of the first women to attend the naval academy and then smile at discovering that her family became the first in America to send every member to the naval academy. After reading Changing the Rules of Engagement, you’ll feel renewed pride and patriotism in the U.S. military and the sacrifices of these women.

Jane Hampton Cook

Author of Resilience on Parade: Short Stories of Suffragists and Women's Battle for the Vote

Martha LaGuardia-Kotite deserves our thanks for sharing the incredible stories of those who paved the way for all of us serving today. I am struck by the courage and humanity of the women she features and by the fact that they are my contemporaries. In a single generation, we’ve witnessed great transformation in our armed forces!

Capt. Melissa Bert


Most of us from that pioneer generation of women in defense have been too busy to stop and take notice of how far we’ve come in the last thirty years. With Changing the Rules of Engagement, Martha LaGuardia-Kotite has given us the chance to do so, and the journey is indeed wondrous to behold.

Kathleen Troia

"KT" McFarland

Changing the Rules of Engagement is an anthology full of journeys that must be shared. I’m so glad that Cmdr. Martha LaGuardia-Kotite has made it her mission to delve into the personal stories of seventeen trailblazers and share them with all of us.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Chairwoman, Democratic National Committee

Changing the Rules of Engagement helps strengthen my belief that we should honor our service members and veterans every day of the year. LaGuardia-Kotite and the women she interviewed will surely serve to inspire future generations of young women to follow in their footsteps and achieve excellence in our nation’s armed forces.

Rep. Jeff Miller

Chairman, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
My name is Old Glory book by Martha LaGuardia Kotite

Co-author Trish Marx (Foreword Admiral Thad Allen, USCG ret)

My Name Is Old Glory: A Celebration of the Star-Spangled Banner

For decades now, the poem “My Name Is Old Glory” has been read at military retirements and patriotic ceremonies. Composed by an unsung Marine who served during WWII named Howard Schnauber, it expresses his feelings about the Star-Spangled Banner.

In this book, Schnauber’s simple but powerful lines blend with timeless images--from a civil rights march to the Moon landing, from Iwo Jima to September 11, 2001--that capture the courage, strength, and glory embodied in our national treasure. With sidebars about significant flag-raising events, the flag acts of 1777, 1794, 1812, and 1912, flag etiquette, personal reflections about what the flag means to Americans of all ages, and much more, this is sure to be the flag book of the year.


Hardcover: 128 pages
Publisher: Lyons Press (May 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0762779063
ISBN-13: 978-0762779062

My name is Old Glory book by Martha LaGuardia Kotite

Co-author Trish Marx (Foreword Admiral Thad Allen, USCG ret)

I would define Martha Laguardia Kotite as one of the best prolific writers of today with a passion for telling a story that puts you 'right there' in the scene. "My Name is Old Glory" is a personal and professional testament that illustrates her superb work. It tugs at your heart - and makes you feel proud to be an American. Buy several ... they make great gifts!

Vincent Patton

Amazon - Verified Purchase

I have had the privilege of serving with Martha Laguardia-Kotite in the Coast Guard and her heartfelt passion for her country comes out clearly in this simple yet powerful look at our Nation's flag. The poem Old Glory is a wonderful opening for the historical information that follows. The pictures do an amazing job of supporting the text that describes the role of the American Flag in our history dating back to the founding of the country and through many of the more recent trials that tested the resolve of our Nation. The book captivated my eight and five year old and had them looking forward to their evening stories like few books before. It is a book that I am proud to have in my home and I could not offer a stronger recommendation to anyone who wants to instill the values of our great Nation in their children.

Alexander Foos

Amazon Customer

This book is moving and heart warming. It truly moved me reading the poem "old glory". This should be required reading for all students. As it seems the feelings toward the flag has been lost on our youth. I highly recommend this book to all American's with a heart.

D. McNally

Amazon - Verified Purchase

I was very impressed with this book. I bought one for ourselves but also bought 2 copies and shared them with our local library. Great picture book for children and wonderfully written for adults. I only wish everyone had as much love for our flag as these writers do.

Jan Burrows

Amazon - Verified Purchase

Legacy: A History of the Coast Guard Foundation

Founded in 1969, the Coast Guard Foundation was initially created to provide margin of excellence support for academic, athletic and morale programs at the Coast Guard Academy.

The organization's founding directors were Coast Guard veterans who served together during World War II. The founders, who enjoyed successful careers after their military service, believed the Academy had needs that private funds could fulfill that weren't being met by the Coast Guard's operating budget.

In addition to Arnold I. Sobel, Samuel "Bud" Silberman, and George Holtzman, early Foundation directors included such luminaries as G. William Miller, the nation's 65th Secretary of the Treasury and 11th Chairman of the Federal Reserve, and Fairleigh Dickinson, Jr., a New Jersey state senator, and chairman of the university named after his father.

In 1986, the Foundation expanded its charter to support projects that enhance the education, welfare and morale of all Coast Guard members and their families. Since the expansion of the Foundation's mission, hundreds of dependents of Coast Guard personnel have received college scholarships, and numerous cutters, bases and units across the country have benefited from exercise equipment, learning materials, distance learning centers and other support initiatives.


Hardcover: 87 pages
Publisher: Coast Guard Foundation, Inc.; 1st edition (2010)
Language: English

A portion of my book sales proceeds are donated to help veterans.