Orleans in Barnstable County, Massachusetts — The American Northeast (New England)
The Birth of the Coast Guard
Lifesaving Heritage of Orleans
On January 28, 1915, President Woodrow Wilson signed the law creating the US Coast Guard by combining the Lifesaving Service with the Revenue Cutter Service. The law put the Coast Guard under the Treasury Department in peacetime and under the Navy in time of war.
Operationally, there was not much change right away, but for USLSS personnel, including those in Orleans, it was a significant change. They were now in the military service with new ranks, rates, and pay scales. District superintendants became commissioned officers, keepers became warrant officers, and surfmen became enlisted Coast Guardsmen. The surfmen became known as “sand pounders” to their sea-going counterparts.
The Orleans Lifesaving Station was designated as Station 40. One of the principal architects of the legislation that created the Coast Guard was USLSS Superintendent Summer I. Kimball, who had guided the Service as well as the Revenue Marine Division of the Treasury Department into the formidable organizations that they had become. As a footnote to our heritage, Kimball taught school in Orleans early in his career.
Station 40 Keeper Robert Pierce saw the attack developing, recognized that mariners were in danger, and like many before him, ordered the lifeboat to be launched, leading the mission himself. Pierce, a surfman since 1890, was the son of a Wampanoag Indian. As the lifeboat approached the tug, concussions from the U-Boat’s deck guns blew the hats off several of the surfmen.
Surfman Bill Moore transferred to the Perth Amboy and was later credited by doctors as having saved the arm of one of the injured crewmen. This rescue mission, conducted under enemy fire , put the lifesaver’s unofficial motto “you have to go out; you don’t have to come back” in a whole new perspective.
This display was made possible through Orleans Community Preservation Funds
Erected by Orleans Community Preservation Committee.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Disasters • Industry & Commerce • Waterways & Vessels.
Location. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 250 Beach Road, Orleans MA 02653, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Benjamin Sparrow (here, next to this marker); The Legacy Endures (here, next to this marker); The United States Lifesaving Service (here, next to this marker); The Legacy Continues (here, next to this marker); The Legacy Begins (here, next to this marker); Nauset Beach (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); East Orleans Country Store (approx. 1½ miles away); Universalist Society Meeting House (approx. 2.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Orleans.
Credits. This page was last revised on October 30, 2020. It was originally submitted on October 28, 2020, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida. This page has been viewed 42 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on October 28, 2020, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.