U.S. Coast Guard cadets visit Chicamacomico

Published 8:58 pm Wednesday, August 9, 2023

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Special visitors came to the Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station in early summer.

Some 70 high school students in the Leadership Academy of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Junior Reserved Office Training Corps (JROTC) visited the historic site in Rodanthe. The cadets hailed from Delaware, Florida and North Carolina.

The academy was held at U.S. Coast Guard Base Elizabeth City from June 12 through 16. Cadets were engaged from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily in developing leadership skills, practicing team building, learning Coast Guard history and experiencing Coast Guard heritage.

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On the academy’s last day, the cadets came to Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station.

“The jewel of the week,” said Master Chief Lyn Dupree (USCG ret.) in describing the Chicamacomico experience.

The cadets split into two groups with the first arriving at historic station and museum about 9 a.m.

Larry Grubbs, Chicamacomico Historical Association president and keeper in charge, along with two members of Chicamacomico’s Beach Apparatus Drill Team led the cadets in setting up the equipment used during shipwreck rescues from the late 1800s up to the middle of the 1950s. The 1874 station building and grounds on the historic site served as a stage.

Cadets used the equipment to dig the hole for the sand anchor, to take turns “running the ropes,” and to rescue each other and some of their instructors. The first group repacked the beach cart so the second group would have the same experience. That second group arrived around 1 p.m.

Grubbs reported all the cadets were “respectful and energetic” and welcome to return anytime.

Enrollment in the Leadership Academy is selective, requiring cadet applicants to show commitment, academic achievement, fitness, as well as knowledge of Coast Guard procedures and protocols. The maritime science instructors are retired Coast Guard officers and senior non-commissioned chiefs.

In North Carolina, Camden County High School and Topsail High School in Hampstead have JROTC programs. The U.S. Coast Guard is expanding its JROTC program, adding three additional programs to bring the total participating high schools to 10. The goal is to have at least one program in each U.S. Coast Guard district by 2025.

Both Camden and Topsail cadets participated in the Leadership Academy. Cadets also came from Sussex County Technical in Georgetown, Del.; MAST Academy in Key Biscayne, Fla.; and Pinellas Park High School in Largo, Fla.

The purpose of the U.S. Coast Guard’s JROTC is “to instill in students in United States secondary educational institutions the values of citizenship, service to the United States, and personal responsibility and a sense of accomplishment.”

To witness the beach apparatus drill like these 70 cadets experienced, visit Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station on any summer Thursday at 2 p.m., the historic time that the life-savers stationed at Chicamacomico practiced the rescue. For further information, go to Chicamacomico.org.