The first Native Americans known to serve in the Coast Guard were members of the gay-headed Wampanoag tribe of Martha’s Vineyard, known as Aquinna Wampanoag. Aquinnah Wampanoag has been regarded as the most patriotic and self-sacrificing member of the Coast Guard in its history.
In the early 1800s, Ebenezer Skiff, White Keeper of Gay Head Lighthouse, hired members of the Aquina Wampanoag to help maintain and operate the lighthouse. In a letter to his superiors in 1815 Skiff reported: Gayhead It has become commonplace for him to hire Aquinnah Wampanoag members to help keepers with day-to-day operations and maintenance. These hired assistants were the first Native Americans to serve in the Coast Guard’s predecessor agency.
Of all the events associated with early Native American service, the SS City rescue of Columbus stands out. The passenger liner sailed in East Coast waters from Boston to New York, and on a bitterly cold and stormy night in January 1884, Gay She ran aground 800 m from She Head. 100 passengers and crew ran aground and she drowned within 20 minutes.Aquina Wampanoag volunteers gathered on the shoreBrave frigid temperatures and rough seas to save survivors. These Native American heroes boarded his two rescue boats, a lifeboat and a large surf boat, provided by the Massachusetts Humane Society.
The lifeboat was crushed by rocks after being run over by a wave and was lost, but the unconscious crew of the Aquinnah Wampanoag survived. Meanwhile, their brother’s lifesaver launches a surf boat, but it capsizes in violent waves. In the bitter cold, the submerged volunteers landed and again attempted to reach out to the last survivors hanging from the masts of the submerged ships. steamer. During these dramatic events, Samuel Anthony, Aquina Wampanoag’s lifesaver, later recalled: His crew of brave Native Americans erected a surf boat, retrieved his seven survivors from the city of Columbus, and headed home. Again the surf boat capsized, but the crew and victims made it safely to shore and survived.
to risk my lifeThe men of Aquina Wampanoag rose to national prominence for rescuing strangers from the shipwrecked city of Columbus. All-volunteer members received high marks, medals and prizes from the Massachusetts Humane Society. In reporting the story, the media said that the Native American man and his wife who helped landed victims “deserved all the credit, and the money for their benefit and encouragement should be a big part of it.” Yes, I risked my life for others without expecting anything in return.”
In 1892, the U.S. Lighthouse Service appointed EMT and Aquinnah Wampanoag m for the City of Columbus.Leonard Vanderhoop Deputy Keeper of Gay Head Light. He was the first Native American to serve as a federal deputy superintendent. At 12 feet tall and weighing several tons, Gayhead’s primary lens was enormous, incorporating more than 1,000 glass His prisms. As Assistant Keeper, Vanderhoop’s duties included climbing the narrow spiral staircase to the Lantern Room and turning on the lamps at night or on days of poor visibility. I turned it off and cleaned it. He was also responsible for polishing the brass fittings of the lights, refueling the lenses, and resetting the lantern wicks for the next illumination.
1895, USAThe Life Saving Service set up a station at Gay Head and staffed it with a crew of White Keepers and Aquina Wampanoag Surfmen. He one of these surfmen, his 35-year-old Samuel J. Anthony, was engaged in rescue operations in the city of Columbus. In January 1898, just 14 years after the Columbus City disaster, the Gayhead area was attacked by the infamous “Portland Gale” and the ships all went ashore. Around Martha’s Vineyard. Two schooners ran aground at Gay Her Head, but every time the station crew tried to launch the surf boats, violent waves hit the ships and threw them back at them. After spending more than her day trying to launch, the crew was able to navigate rough seas and save her six frostbitten crew from a single schooner.
During World War I, the Aquina Wampanoag men of Martha’s Vineyard once again gained national prominence. Gayhead’s Native American community has been honored by Massachusetts as New York’s most patriotic town in England. Gay Head had more men per capita serving the country than any other settlement in the area. Of his 23 Aquinnah Wampanoag men, six were current or former members of the Coast Guard, including the City of Colombes.Hero Samuel Anthony retired in 1920 at the age of nearly 60. As a volunteer lifesaver for the Massachusetts Humane Society and as a professional lifesaver for the U.S. Lifesaving Service and Coast Guard, Anthony’s career spanned more than 35 years.
In 1919, the U.S. Navy appointed Aquina Wampanoag member Charles W. Vanderhoope (Lenard Vanderhoope’s cousin) as the chief guardian of the Sancutty Head Lighthouse on nearby Nantucket. He was the first Native American to oversee federal facilities. The following year, the U.S. Lighthouse Service appointed him the chief guardian of his head lighthouse, while Aquina, a member of the Wampanoag, appointed Atakin as the deputy guardian. This brought the gay-headed Aquina Wampanoag men back into national attention.
By the early 1930s, Vanderhoop and Attaquin had maintained the light through many hurricanes and Nor’easters, providing local shipping with years of faithful service. As keepers, Vanderhoop and Atakin provided tours for approximately 300,000 visitors, including men, women and children, as well as celebrities such as President C.Alvin Coolidge. But years of climbing the tower and caring for Wright took a toll on Vanderhoop. After 20 years of service, he retired in 1933 due to disability. Faithful to the end, Atakin also served until his retirement in 1933. Later in the century, other Aquina his Wampanoag keepers served with gay headlights. Among them was assistant keeper Charles W. Vanderhoop Jr.
Aquinnah Wampanoag members such as Anthony, Vanderhoops and Attaquin served faithfully in the Coast Guard and its predecessor services. Their dedication to their nation embodied the core values of the Coast Guard: “Devotion to honor, respect and duty.”