Fire On The Beach
Recovering The Lost Story Of Richard Etheridge And The Pea Island LifesaversBook - 2000
"Fire on the Beach" recovers a lost gem of American history. It tells the story of the U.S. Life-Saving Service, formed in 1871 to assure the safe passage of American and international shipping and to save lives and salvage cargo. A century ago, the adventures of the now-forgotten "surfmen" who, in crews of seven, bore the brunt of this dangerous but vital duty filled the pages of popular reading material, from "Harper's" to the "Baltimore Sun" and "New York Herald." Station 17, located on the desolate beaches of Pea Island, North Carolina, housed one such unit, and Richard Etheridge -- the only black man to lead a lifesaving crew -- was its captain.
A former slave and Civil War veteran, Etheridge recruited and trained a crew of African- Americans, forming the only all-black station in the nation. Although civilian attitudes toward Etheridge and his men ranged from curiosity to outrage, they figured among the most