MHC is a Coast Guard Community Part 1

Stating our case as a Coast Guard Community:

 Part 1 of 3  

Carteret County has been notified that the U.S. Coast Guard Commandant will be coming for a visit and formally declare that Carteret County is “A Coast Guard Community.”  This is a compilation of information contained in the application packet that was presented to Coast Guard headquarters.

“I was pleased to sign the application for Carteret County, North Carolina, to be named ‘A Coast Guard Community,’ on behalf of the Carteret County Board of Commissioners,” said Carteret County Manager Russell Overman.

“Carteret County is genuinely proud of its Coast Guard heritage, and we were able to document that the United States Coast Guard has had a presence in Carteret County since its formation more than 100 years ago in 1915,” Overman said.

“We learned from local historian Rodney Kemp that Carteret County’s Ca’e Bankers (residents of the Cape Lookout area) have always been sensitive to victims of the perils of the sea, and whaling crews would respond when a ship was wrecked off of Cape Lookout.”

Kemp tells the tragic story of the wreck of a three-masted schooner the Crissie Wright in January of 1886:

“She ‘come’ ashore on the sea beach side of Shackleford Banks near the Wade Shore community having lost her rudder.  The whaling crews were prepared to attempt a rescue when the wind shifted and caused mountainous waves to prevent their launching.  The temperature dropped to 12 degrees (F), and the wind and water roared….

“The would-be rescuers built a large fire on shore to signal the Crissie Wright’s crew that they would rescue them when nature so obliged.  When finally rescuers were able to get aboard, two of the crew had washed over board, three were frozen to death and only one survived….

“And the publicity of this tragedy helped encourage the building of the U.S. Life-Saving Stations in Carteret County at Core Banks (1888), Portsmouth (1894) and Cape Lookout (1896).”

Those early Life-Saving Stations were staffed by courageous surfmen who nightly scanned the water for vessels in trouble along the stormy ocean beaches; while in the boathouses, oar-powered surfboats and crews were waiting, ready to be sent down the ramp and out to sea.

The valiant surfmen would assist mariners in distress, as Cape Lookout Shoals was known as Promontorium Tremendum, the “Horrible Headland.”

Another Life-Saving Station was authorized to be built in 1904 at the Fort Macon Military Reservation on the eastern tip of Bogue Banks at Beaufort Inlet.  Later, the property became Coast Guard Station Fort Macon.

In the winter of 1905, nine members assigned to the Cape Lookout Life-Saving Station received Gold Lifesaving Medals for their heroic rescue of seven crew members of the Sarah D. J. Rawson, a three-masted schooner that had run aground on the south side of Cape Lookout Shoals.

Those honored were:  James W. Fulcher, William H. Gaskill, John A. Guthrie, Kilby Guthrie, Calupt T. Jarvis, John E. Kirkman, Joseph L. Lewis, Tyre Moore and Walter M. Yoemans.

Records show that the very first rescue accomplished by the newly formed Coast Guard (established by combining the Life-Saving Service and Revenue Cutter Service) occurred in the winter of 1915 off Cape Lookout Shoals by Capt. Fred Gillikin of Marshallberg and his crew – saving the lives of five crew members of the Sylvia C. Hall.

Capt. Fred was honored during a parade in Morehead City on his 100th birthday in 1978, sponsored by the Carteret County Chamber of Commerce, which attracted about 4,000 well-wishers.

Additionally, America’s first Coast Guard Air Station was built and opened in 1920 in Morehead City at Camp Glenn.

The official history of the U.S. Coast Guard Aviation Association reported that Morehead City was selected over Key West, Florida, because Morehead City was “best suited to prove the worth of Coast Guard Aviation” by being located in close proximity to the “Graveyard of the Atlantic” – where there would be more opportunities to locate vessels in distress.  The fleet contained six HS-2L Curtiss flying boats.

Operations were discontinued in 1922, due to a lack of funding by Congress.  A state historical marker denotes the location of the original Coast Guard Air Station (now the site of the University of North Carolina Institute of Marine Sciences).




For many years, Coast Guard Sector North Carolina headquarters was based at Fort Macon, before being relocated to Wilmington.  Today, Sector Field Office Fort Macon and nine other Coast Guard units are based at Fort Macon.  At the other end of Bogue Banks is Coast Guard Station Emerald Isle.

Carteret County is home to several hundred Coast Guard active duty personnel, reservists, auxiliary members, Veterans, retirees and their families.

The towns of Atlantic Beach, Beaufort, Emerald Isle, Indian Beach, Morehead City, Newport and Pine Knoll Shores all passed resolutions or approved letters of support for the county to submit the application to be selected as “A Coast Guard Community.”

Each year, the Coast Guard is featured prominently in the Carteret County Veterans Day Parade, which is organized by the Carteret County Veterans Services Office (VSO), and is the largest Veterans Day parade in the State of North Carolina.  Additionally, the Coast Guard participates in the VSO Memorial Day Ceremony.

The individual governments within the county, especially Atlantic Beach and Emerald Isle, strive to be good neighbors to the Coast Guard and offer recreational and cultural opportunities to interact with and engage Coast Guard personnel.

As one example, the residents of The Pointe neighborhood in Emerald Isle invite personnel at the Emerald Isle station to their Memorial Day and Labor Day picnics…and routinely pack up and deliver any leftovers to the station.

“Much of the business and private support initiatives that benefit the Coast Guard are coordinated by our Carteret County Chamber of Commerce,” Overman said.

“The Chamber’s Military Affairs Committee (MAC) is focused on its primary objectives:  To foster positive relationships between the local business community and our military partners; and to express appreciation to the men and women in uniform and their families.

“The Chamber’s MAC is fairly unique, in that the Coast Guard presence is supplemented by Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point and Fleet Readiness Center East (a Naval aircraft repair depot), both in nearby Havelock in Craven County, and an Army Reserve Unit in Morehead City,” Overman said.

Indeed, Carteret County is truly a military friendly community.

Mayors and Town Managers in Atlantic Beach and Emerald Isle, in particular, maintain regular communications with base officials and work cooperatively on navigation maintenance dredging issues to ensure safe boating routes through the inlets and nearby waterways, on fire and emergency issues and on “boating under the influence” violations.

The Town of Emerald Isle Board of Commissioners unanimously adopted a Resolution on March 12, 2013, renaming a portion of Station Street as “Terrell Horne III Way” to memorialize the late Senior Chief Petty Officer Horne, who died in the line of duty off the coast of California in December 2012.  He had been stationed at Emerald Isle from 2009-2011 and made significant contributions to the station and local community.  He left behind a young wife and three sons (one born after his father’s death).

Rachel HorneRachel Horne is holding son WellsKade Horne is at the left and Miller Horne is at the right along with Rachel’s mother.  (Photo by Cheryl Burke, Carteret County News-Times)

Because of the nature of the Coast Guard, most of its active duty personnel reside within the local communities.  Chief Warrant Officer 4 Joseph Edge observes:  “There are many residents of Carteret County who join the Coast Guard and just as many who make Carteret County their permanent residence upon departing service.  I believe that it’s because the community really does make the Coast Guard feel like they are part of their family.”

“It’s true,” Overman asserted.  “Coast Guard families are our friends and neighbors.  We see them at public school functions, in our local churches, at youth sporting events, at our restaurants and in our grocery stores.  And we get to know them.  Community members are grand about extending the ‘hand of hospitality,’ as we are fond of saying.”

Coast Guard personnel return the favor by inviting the public to Coast Guard Days at the Sector Field Office as well as to special events, such as the “Sandy Crab Classic,” a competitive fitness relay event.

Coast Guard personnel serve as tutors and mentors in our classrooms and libraries, as coaches for youth athletic teams and as Scout leaders.

Morehead City resident Ben Crabtree is affiliated with Flotilla 20-02 of the Morehead City Coast Guard Auxiliary, an all-volunteer group of approximately 35 residents who serve under the direction of the Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard.  Support activities of this organization include providing free recreational and commercial boat inspections, teaching boating safety classes for the public, providing assistance with Coast Guard safety patrols, supporting air operations as requested by the Coast Guard and providing watch standers to serve in radio communications.

But Flotilla 20-02 goes above and beyond.  In Mr. Crabtree’s words:  “Each month, a birthday cake is provided to the Station for the Guardsmen to celebrate birthdays that occur during that particular month.  We host an annual cookout – a ‘Down East Shrimp Boil’ – for Coast Guard personnel and auxiliary members.  On Christmas morning, home-cooked snacks and a meal are carried to the Station for the Guardsmen on duty to enjoy a ‘little taste of home.’”

“We do this because we are all indebted and appreciative of the efforts of the Coast Guard to provide for the safety of thousands of recreational boaters who annually visit the coast.  These Guardsmen are willing to lay their lives on the line to provide assistance to those who, unfortunately, have encountered life-threatening situations while on the water.”

More than 4,000 people had the opportunity to tour the Coast Guard’s majestic Barque EAGLE, America’s Tall Ship, when it came to the Port of Morehead City on Easter Sunday (March 27) in 2005.  (It was here to help promote the Tall Ships festival, known as Pepsi America’s Sail, which was hosted by the Friends of the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort in July 2006.)

Eagle Here is the EAGLE as it passes through Beaufort Inlet, headed out to sea after its visit in 2005.

“Many of our folks thought boarding the EAGLE would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Overman recalled.

“So, when the EAGLE visited again, on the weekend of March 28-30, 2014, that was icing on the cake,” he said.  “We learned that the crew anticipated 5,000 visitors, but in fact, more than 9,000 visitors ‘crossed the brow.’”

During that weekend, Coast Guard Rear Admiral Steven Ratti was presented with a Resolution of Appreciation authorized by the Chamber’s Board of Directors.

Overman referenced a quote from the 1885 Annual Report of the U.S. Life-Saving Service:  “These poor, plain men, dwellers upon the lonely sands…took their lives in their hands, and, at the most imminent risk crossed the most tumultuous sea…and all for what?  That others might live to see home and friends.”

“Interestingly, in 2007 (more than 120 years later), Coast Guard Sector North Carolina adopted this motto:  Aliorum Vitae Supra Nostram.  It translates from Latin to ‘Their Lives Above Ours,’” Overman said.

“This motto appears on coins carried by our Guardsmen…and was created by Daniel Murphy, who was an East Carteret High School senior at the time.  He went on to graduate from North Carolina State University and is now a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps.”