Life Lines, April 2019

U.S. Life Saving Service Heritage Association

April 2019

Lake Michigan in winter at North Manitou Island’s U.S. Life-Saving Service National Historic Landmark District, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Photo Credit: Brendan Stainfield, U.S C.G. Traverse City, Michigan

Welcome to Life Lines the monthly newsletter for our members, and also to anyone reading this that has not yet become a member of the U.S. Life-Saving Service Heritage Association.  For those of you reading and have yet to join, please consider doing so. Your membership will get you access to the station inventory link and our new venture to create a “Surfmans’ Data Base.”   If you would like to join please go to

Publications Now Available as Print-on-Demand


The two books that the USLSSHA produced are now available by print-on-demand at  Search for either “They Had to Go Out” or “Rescue: The Stories of the U.S. Life-Saving Service” edited by John Galluzzo.  If you have not added these two books to your library here is your chance to do so.











Chronology of Coast Guard History

If you were looking for a link to a chronology of Coast Guard History here is that link.  I will leave it permanently on Life Lines for you to access each month. I found this really useful and interesting.

Winter Coming to an End on the Great Lakes

Lake Michigan in winter on South Manitou Island’s Life-Saving Service Complex National Register District, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Photo Credit: Brendan Stainfield, U.S.C.G. Traverse City, Michigan.


The long cold winter is finally coming to an end on the Great Lakes and hopefully wherever the rest of our readers live as well.  Winter really didn’t get churning until early February in the “Mittens of Michigan”.  Once it got started the cold wind, polar vortex temperatures, snow, and ice sheets started piling up on shore.

Now that spring is here, there are daily reports of the Coast Guard Ice Breaker out getting the Straits of Mackinac open so that vast numbers of freighters will soon be seen plying through the Manitou Passage off of the Sleeping Bear.

Thank you to the Traverse City U.S.C.G. who fly over the two islands off of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and send updated photos to the park each winter.  It is greatly appreciated. These photos were taken to check the dock conditions and to determine amount of dredging may be needed prior to the camping season on the islands.  Getting to see that the lifesaving structures survived the winter is always a pleasant sight as well.

National Surf man Registry

Photo courtesy of the internet. Pre-WW2 USCG ‘SURFMAN’ US LIFE SAVING SERVICES US L.S.S. Insignia Set

It is important to repeat this story again and you will see it in the next few Life Lines just to get the word out.  I will abbreviate the story over time as the project continues and readers are more aware of this ongoing project.


You should know that the USLSSHA is aware that several other members of our organization have done research on specific stations in regards to developing a surfman registry. The goal of the USLSSHA’s National Surfman Registry Project is to have a complete roster for all of the USLSS Stations from their beginning through the 1940 time frame. Our goal is to have a field on our website where anyone could search for a relative or see who served at a specific station or potentially follow an individual’s career. 

If you are working on a similar project please let us know so that we can share the format that we have created for this project. By using a standard format, it will allow us flexibility to search on specific criteria as we go forward. Presently, the research data is being given to board member Steve Marthouse who is creating the individual station files.

If you are interested in helping with the research, let us know. We will be happy to explain the process we are using when we go into the National Archives. Since we are using the Station Logbooks as our primary information source, if you live near national archive sites Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco, or Seattle and are interested, we’d love to get you involved.

If you have done research at the National Archives before, we can bring you up to speed quickly. If you’re a novice, we will gladly work with you. All you need is the time, a digital camera and patience. Perhaps if there are multiple individuals from the same area interested, we could put them in contact with each other and form teams.

If this project interests you and you would like more information or to get involved, please feel free to contact Steve either by email or phone.

Steve Marthouse
[email protected]
(717) 552-3452

Keeper’s Hat Insignia

Photo provided by James Charlet

Member James Charlet is looking for sources for the Keeper’s Hat Insignia.  It can be a replica or an original, he is just looking to source these when needed.  If you have or know of a source please get in touch with James.

James Charlet
[email protected]

Museum to Host a Historical Feast by Lantern Light

Patron’s enjoy last year’s Indian River Life-Saving Station’s surfman’s dinner. Coastal Point • File photo

The staff of the historic Indian River Life-Saving Station are inviting people to experience the 1800s, with lantern-lit museum tours and a locally-sourced dining experience.

The Savoring Our Coastal Heritage Dinner is inspired by what the life-saving station’s surfmen may have been eating around the turn-of-the-century, and will be hosted Saturday, April 27, at 6:30 p.m.

Space at the Savoring Our Coastal Heritage Dinner is limited. The cost is $89 per person, including tour, dinner and beverages (regular or alcoholic). Register by calling (302) 227-6991. Learn more at

Ocean City Museum is Looking for Information on Surfmen

Photo Courtesy of the Ocean City Museum

More than 100 years after the men stopped working at the Life-Saving Station 30 in Ocean City, John Loeper believes it is time that each one of them should be recognized for their sacrifices and heroism.

The station, located at Fourth Street and Atlantic Avenue, formally opened to the public as a museum last year to showcase Ocean City’s history with the U.S. Life-Saving Service, the forerunner to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Hoping to distill history down on a more personal level, John Loeper and others are trying to build dossiers on all of the men who worked at the station from 1872 to 1915 – in effect, bringing them back to life so that museum visitors will understand exactly what they did long ago.  If you would like to know more about this effort please read the story and contact the museum.

Surfman Takes Helm at Chatham’s Heavy Weather Station

Photo Credit: Cape Cod Times


New Coast Guard station chief Carlos Hessler’s last posting included Depoe Bay, Oregon, where vessels must navigate waves breaking through a hole cut in a 40-foot high rock wall to get in and out of a tiny harbor.

He is one of only 200 active surfmen in the Coast Guard. Only around 500 have achieved the ranking in the history of the service, according to the Coast Guard’s official blog.  If you would like to read more about this posting and the Chatham Station click on the following link:

Rochester, New York is the Location for the 2019 Annual Conference

Photo courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard

The 2019 Annual Conference and Meeting will be in Rochester, New York.  The dates are September 26-28, 2019. 

The conference hotel is the Holiday Inn Express, 850 Holt Road, Webster, NY. They are holding 20 rooms for us: 10 with double queen beds and 10 with a king bed. Dates for the reservations are for Wednesday, September 25 – Saturday, September 28. The nightly rate is $119 plus tax.

To make reservations, call 585-872-0900 and tell the front desk you are part of the US Life-Saving Service Heritage Association. The hotel offers a free breakfast; and is located close to a pond with walking trail.

The conference agenda will cover stations at Oswego, Niagara, and Buffalo.   Additional tours and programming are in the planning stages.  Watch this site and Wreck and Rescue for more information.  Mark your calendar now.

If you have a story to submit for the next Life Lines please contact us through our website.

Also consider joining the Life Lines staff.  We are now three and more are welcome to join us.  If you wanted to have a role or contribute to the organization this is your opportunity to do so.