Memory of Coast Guard legend kept alive during ceremony in Manteo, NC

Coast Guard District 5 NewsManteo, N.C. — The town of Manteo, honored a Coast Guard legend during a ceremony dedicating the boathouse at Collins Park to Herbert M. Collins, Saturday.

Collins Park is a location that houses the Pea Island Cookhouse, which was part of U.S. Life-Saving Station Pea Island; a statue commemorating Richard Ethridge, the first black officer-in-charge of a life-saving station, and now the Herbert M. Collins Boathouse.

Collins, a native of Roanoke Island, N.C., was born, Jan. 1, 1921, and enlisted in the Coast Guard, Feb. 2, 1939. He served aboard numerous cutters and several shore assignments until he was assigned to the all African American Life-Saving Station Pea Island where he served as a surfman for the duration of World War II.

During his assignment at Pea Island, Collins participated in a number of daring search and rescue missions including the response to a distressed ship that had been hit by a torpedo between the Pea Island and Chicamacomico Coast Guard stations.

Collins is often referred to as the last keeper of Life-Saving Station Pea Island because when the Coast Guard made the decision to close the station, Collins stayed behind to file the necessary paperwork for its decommission.

The historic unit was closed in 1947, and Collins was the last of the station’s crewmembers to lock the doors.

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