July 27,  2010

Fifth annual American Heroes Day is Aug. 5 at Rodanthe

The Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station Museum Complex will sponsor its fifth annual American Heroes Day on Thursday, Aug. 5, from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. 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 men of the USLSS men responded to more than 178,000 lives in peril from the sea, of which they saved more than 177,000.  This is a startling rate of success of 99.2 percent, while their own loss of life, usually under the worst possible conditions, was less than 1 percent!   In 1915, this service merged with the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service to form the United States Coast Guard, whose men and women routinely continue 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,  Coast Guard Auxiliary, local volunteer fire departments, North Carolina State Highway Patrol, local sheriff and police departments, local EMS units and ocean rescue squads, National Park Service at 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 during the event includes fire engines, ambulances, police cars, a Coast Guard helicopter, rescue boats, and others. There will be numerous displays, demonstrations, and exhibits, as well as hands-on activities and participation events. 

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 lifeboat 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 the “victim” in the water, hovers, and then a rescue swimmer jumps from the helo into the ocean.  Then he assists the victim into the basket and is hoisted into the Jayhawk and  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 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, commonly referred to as the Breaches Buoy Re-enactment, has long been Chicamacomico’s most popular program.  Chicamacomico is the only place in the nation to do the full drill re-enactment on a regular basis. And to top it off, the drill reams are all volunteers of active-duty US Coast Guard personnel. It is performed every Thursday at 2 p.m. during the summer (June, July and August).  

The flyover at the closing event is, at this time. unconfirmed.  So stick around to the very end for more surprises!

All of these organizations are heroic to us. 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, they do not always get the public recognition they deserve.

“So, American Heroes of today, the Heroes of the Past salute you,” said Chicamacomico manager James Charlet in a media release. “Many thanks for carrying on such an essential and positive time-honored tradition.”

This is a fund-raising event for the non-profit 501(c)3 Chicamacomico Historical Association so that it may continue these kinds of events and keep the history of heroes alive.

Chicamacomico’s fifth annual American Heroes Day

Schedule of Events


10:00    Event Opens (All emergency vehicles: sirens on 30 seconds, lights on 5 minutes)

10:15     Opening Ceremonies - Main Stage Area
Posting of Colors, United States Coast Guard Color Guard, USCG Sector North Carolina
Welcoming Remarks, James Charlet, Chicamacomico Historic Site Manager
    Guest Speaker: Capt. Anthony Popeil, Commanding Officer USCG Sector
North Carolina, Fort Macon, N.C.

11:30    USCG Search & Rescue Demo, Jayhawk Helicopter & GC Lifeboat - On the Beach
            (USCG Air Station Elizabeth City and USCG Motor Lifeboat Station Oregon Inlet)
12:00    LUNCH: Hot dogs, chips, and soda - Salvo VFD truck near Highway
Ice Cream at truck near Visitors’ Center

  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)    

    Closing Salute: Military Flyover, Overhead


•    Hot dogs, sodas, chips & ice cream for sale!

•    US Coast Guard Station Oregon Inlet- static display of 25-foot response boat & tow truck

•    US 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’s 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 – Currituck Lighthouse,
NPS Cape Hatteras Nation Seashore, Outer Banks Lighthouse Society.

*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 NC Highway 12 in the village of Rodanthe, NC. The GPS coordinates are 35 35’ N, 75 28’ W.  This is the first village travelers come to on Hatteras Island on North Carolina’s fabled 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.” The Annapolis Daily Record rates it one of the “Top 20 Beach Picks for 2010.” 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 www.chicamacomico.net to learn more about the organization and see a write-up about previous year’s events.

 Comments are always welcomed!

     Subject :

     Name :  (required)

     Email :  (required, will not be published)

     City :   (required)    State :   (required)

     Your Comments:

May be posted on the Letters to the Editor page at the discretion of the editor.