(Left to right): Richard Etheridge, Rasmus Midgett and John Allen Midgett's busts stand on the background of North Carolina's Outer Banks. Nicknamed the Graveyard of the Atlantic, these waters have been home to shipwrecks and to rescues performed by members of the Life Saving Service and U.S. Coast Guard. U.S. Coast Guard illustration by Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua Canup.

Standing the watch over the Graveyard of the Atlantic

For hundreds of years, mariners have nicknamed North Carolina’s Outer Banks the “Graveyard of the Atlantic” based on the history of ships lost in its waters. Even for experienced Coast Guard members, traversing the area can prove a difficult task. However, Coast Guard men and women stand the watch, just as the crews before them did.


A rare photograph of Keeper Joshua James and his U.S. Life-Saving Service crew posing in front of their surfboat. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Long Blue Line: Joshua James – U.S. Life-Saving Service Hero

Joshua James was not just a man of the sea; he was also a man of the surf. He was born in 1826 in Hull, located on the beaches south of Boston; and he would grow, reach adulthood and live out his days in Hull. And he would dedicate the majority of his long life to rescuing those imperiled by stormy weather and heavy seas in the waters surrounding that seaside town.


The Brazos Station in 1919. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The Long Blue Line: Brazos Station’s hispanic lifesavers and the Florida Keys hurricane

Hispanic American personnel have served in search and rescue operations since the nineteenth century. For example, in 1899, James Lopez of the Provincetown, Massachusetts, Life-Saving Station became the first Hispanic-American service member to receive the Silver Lifesaving Medal. But the greatest number of Hispanic-American personnel served not in stations along the East Coast, but in Florida and along the Gulf Coast.


225 Years of Service to Nation

225 years of Service to Nation: Search and rescue

Those familiar with Coast Guard history know that the Service’s development has been shaped in part by the nation’s response to natural and man-made disasters. Nowhere is that lesson clearer than the history of the Service’s search and rescue, or SAR, mission.


U.S. Life Saving Serice crew landing rescued

Coast Guard Heroes: Joseph O. Doyle

Joseph O. Doyle was appointed keeper of the Charlotte, New York Life Saving Station July 11, 1878. As keeper, he secured the appointment of a paid crew and became known as one of the most distinguished surfmen attached to the U.S. Life-Saving Service.


Charlene James Benoit, great-great niece of Capt. Joshua James, smashes a bottle across the bow of the Ingalls-built National Security Cutter James (WMSL 754). Supporting her are (left to right) Capt. Andrew Tiongson, the ship’s prospective commanding officer; Vice Adm. Peter Neffenger, vice commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard; and Ingalls Shipbuilding President Brian Cuccias. Photo by Lance Davis

Honoring a legacy of life-saving

“Joshua James exhibited a commitment to excellence that permeates the Coast Guard to this day,” said Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard Vice Adm. Peter Neffenger. “He embodied the Coast Guard’s core values of honor, respect and devotion to duty and the guiding principles articulated in our new Commandant’s Direction long before we ever wrote them down.”


buoy drill

Coast Guard Heroes: Bailey T. Barco

On Dec. 21, 1900, the schooner Jennie Hall had run aground in a severe winter storm off the coast of Virginia Beach, Va. Upon notification of the grounding, the Dam Neck Station Life-Saving Station keeper, Bailey T. Barco proceeded to the scene and took command. Realizing the use of the surfboat was dangerous, if not impossible, Barco directed the assembling of the beach apparatus and soon a breeches buoy had delivered all but one of the survivors to safety.


buffalo station

Coast Guard Heroes: Winslow W. Griesser

On Nov. 21, 1900, two large scows broke from their moorings some 3 miles southwest of the Buffalo Life-Saving Station in New York; the scows, a type of flat-bottomed boat, drifted toward the breakers. The station’s surfmen saw this from the lookout tower and promptly launched the lifeboat, with Winslow W. Griesser, keeper of the station, aboard.


Bygone days returned

A mere blip on the chart just 26 miles off the southern coast of Cape Cod, Mass., the island of Nantucket greets the Atlantic Ocean as it makes its assault on the East Coast. Discovered in 1604, Nantucket has a rich maritime history of whaling expeditions and life-saving efforts aboard doomed ships. Volunteer lifesavers on the island in the 18th century later became members of the U.S. Life-Saving Service and eventually the U.S. Coast Guard, now operating at Station Brant Point.


Sen. Landrieu

The spirit of Bertholf

Each year the Coast Guard presents the Commodore Ellsworth P. Bertholf Award to a member of Congress who exemplifies the spirit of Bertholf by making substantial contributions in support of the men and women of the United States Coast Guard and enhances the ability of the service to carry out its missions. This year’s recipient is Sen. Mary Landrieu.


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