August 1, 2008

Heroes Day at Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station will be Aug. 6

The Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station Museum Complex will be holding its third annual “American Heroes Day” on Wednesday, Aug. 6 from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. in the village of Rodanthe on Hatteras Island.

Chicamacomico was part of the United States Life-Saving Service (USLSS) and was the first station built in North Carolina.  The original station, dating from 1874, is still on the site as one of eight buildings belonging to the Chicamacomico Historical Association.  The men of the United States Life-Saving Service (1871-1915) were the original rescue heroes, the “storm warriors” who made dramatic and heroic rescues of shipwreck victims whose lives were in peril from the sea. In their history, nationwide, the USLSS’s rate of success was 99.2 percent, while their own loss of life, usually under the worst possible conditions, was less than 1 per cent.  In 1915, this service merged with the US Revenue Cutter Service to form the United States Coast Guard who routinely continues this tradition of heroism.

With that inspiration, Chicamacomico decided to honor and celebrate true American heroes of the past and the present.  Participants invited include the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy,  Coast Guard Auxiliary, local volunteer fire departments, N.C. State Highway Patrol, local sheriff and police departments, local EMS units and Ocean Rescue squads, National Park Service Cape Hatteras National Seashore,  Outer Banks Lighthouse Society, the Frisco Native American Museum, and perhaps some last-minute surprises. 

Equipment on display and/or in use includes fire engines, ambulances, police cars, a Coast Guard helicopter, rescue boats, and more. There will be numerous displays, demonstrations, and exhibits, as well as hands-on activities and participation events. See Schedule of Events (below) for details. 

Any one of the “one-time events’ is worth the price of admission.  The Search and Rescue Demo could be straight from the movie “The Guardian.”  A Coast Guard 47-foot motor life boat will be in the ocean off Chicamacomico’s beach.  It plays the role of a vessel in distress with a man overboard.  An HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter arrives, circles, locates “victim” in the water, hovers, and then a rescue swimmer jumps from the helo into the ocean. He assists the victim into the basket, and it is hoisted into the Jayhawk and then whisked away to safety.

The jet-ski water rescue is another simulation.  There are professionally trained local volunteers who can be on the scene of a water rescue in a dramatically short amount of time.

The Beach Apparatus Drill is a historic re-enactment of a rescue method used by the U.S. Life-Saving Service.  It involves a large, two-wheeled cart filled with lifesaving equipment, or “apparatus,” the firing of a projectile with a  black-powder cannon to get lines to a stricken ship (the “wreck pole” in the drill simulates the mast of a ship) and then sending out equipment to save the lives of those on board, one soul at a time.

The Beach Apparatus Drill has long been Chicamacomico’s most popular program.  Chicamacomico is one of only two places in the nation to do the full drill re-enactment.  It is performed every Thursday at 2 p.m. during the summer.  However, Wednesday’s performance on Aug. 6 will take the place of the regular Thursday drill for that week only.

The other one-time events are self-explanatory.  Mojo Collins is a musical legend from the ‘60s. If you missed that, now is your chance.  And for the flyover at the closing event, at press time it was unconfirmed how many F-18s there would be.  So stick around to the very end for more surprises.

“All of these organizations are heroic to us,” said James Charlet, site manager. “Some are obvious by saving lives, but others are saving history, nature, or culture.  All selflessly serve the public like the Life-Saving Service did.  And, unfortunately, also like the Life-Saving Service, do not always get the public recognition they deserve.”

Chicamacomico’s 3rd Annual American Heroes Day
 Schedule of Events


10:00    Event Opens (All emergency vehicles: sirens on 1 minute, lights on 10 minutes)
10:30    Opening Ceremonies -  Main Stage Area
Posting of Colors, United States Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard, Alexandria, VA.
Welcoming Remarks, James Charlet, Chicamacomico Historic Site Manager
Guest Speaker: Joe Raymond, Lt., USCG Sector North Carolina Field Office Nags Head
11:00    USCG Search & Rescue Demo, Jayhawk Helicopter & GC Lifeboat (USCG Air Station Elizabeth City and USCG Motor Lifeboat Station Oregon Inlet)                                          
            On the Beach.
12:00    Mojo Collins - live entertainment Front Porch 1911 Station
1:00      Water Rescue Demo (Chicamacomico Banks VFD Water Rescue Unit) .  On the Beach                                                                                                                             
2:00      Beach Apparatus Drill  Starts at 1874 Station               
           (Teams USCG Motor Lifeboat Station Oregon Inlet & Station Hatteras Inlet)                                                                                                                          
3:00     Closing Salute: Military Flyover, U.S. Navy F-18 fighter jets Overhead  


•    U.S. Coast Guard Station Oregon Inlet- static display of 25 foot response boat & tow truck
•    U.S. Coast Guard Station Hatteras Inlet - interactive demonstration of fixing vessel water leaks
•    Chicamacomico Banks Volunteer Fire Dept & Water Rescue Unit- static display and inspection of ladder truck and jet-ski, and tow truck.  See demo above.
•    Dare County Sheriff Department- live demos of K9 Officer and dog, static displays and inspection of patrol car and 5 ton “storm truck”
•    Dare County Emergency Medical Services –static display of EMS ambulance and equipment
•    Kill Devil Hills Ocean Rescue Unit – static display of truck and lifeguard equipment
•    Salvo Volunteer Fire Department – static display and inspection of company fire engine
•    North Carolina Highway Patrol – static display and inspection of SUV Patrol vehicle
•    Tables, displays, handouts, and conversations with – Dare County Emergency Management, NPS Cape Hatteras Nation Seashore, Outer Banks Lighthouse Society,  & Frisco Native American Museum

*This is a tentative schedule and subject to change due to the fact that active-duty emergency personnel and equipment are present and may be called out before or during the event.

The Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station Historic Site is located at milepost 39.5 NC Highway 12 in the village of Rodanthe.  This is the first village travelers come to on Hatteras Island on the Outer Banks if you are arriving from the north.

Chicamacomico is a private non-profit 501(c)(3) educational living history museum complex that raises all of its own operating costs.  This event is a major fund-raiser to help perpetuate this incredible history.  The public will experience a unique event at a unique site, have a great time, and help to fulfill our motto: “Honoring Our Heroes ~ Preserving Our Past.”

Last year’s event was dubbed “a rousing success” and “the best day-long entertainment value on the Outer Banks.” Admission fees are a flat $5 per person.  Children 5 and under are free. Chicamacomico’s seven-acre site will be filled with equipment and displays of the participants, so parking will be across the street. Carpooling is encouraged.

For additional information, contact the Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station at PO Box 5, Rodanthe, NC 27968 or by phone at (252) 987-1552, or email [email protected].  Visit the website at to learn more about the organization and see a write-up about last year’s event.

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