North Carolina Honors Coast Guard Captain Who Was Born a Slave

The Coast Guard Cutter Richard Etheridge nameboard is seen Feb. 23, 2013, and was donated from the structure of the Etheridge family homestead in Manteo, N.C. Capt. Etheridge was the first African-American keeper of the Pea Island Life-Saving Station located on the northern half of Hatteras Island off the North Carolina coast, where treacherous waters churn in the Graveyard of the Atlantic. (Petty Officer 1st Class Krystyna Hannum/Coast Guard)
The Coast Guard Cutter Richard Etheridge nameboard is seen Feb. 23, 2013, and was donated from the structure of the Etheridge family homestead in Manteo, N.C. Capt. Etheridge was the first African-American keeper of the Pea Island Life-Saving Station located on the northern half of Hatteras Island off the North Carolina coast, where treacherous waters churn in the Graveyard of the Atlantic. (Petty Officer 1st Class Krystyna Hannum/Coast Guard)

RODANTHE, N.C. -- The state Transportation Department has dedicated a bridge along the Outer Banks to a U.S. Coast Guard captain who went from being a slave to the first African-American to command a life-saving station.

The state dedicated the Pea Island Interim Bridge as the Captain Richard Etheridge Bridge in a ceremony Tuesday at the Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo Community Building.

The bridge replaced the temporary metal bridge that spanned a breach opened during Hurricane Irene in 2011 along N.C. Highway 12.

Etheridge became the leader of the Pea Island Life-Saving Station, an all African-American unit credited with saving many lives. The Coast Guard awarded Etheridge and his crew a medal for the rescue of those aboard the E.S. Newman during a hurricane in 1896.

Etheridge died in 1900.

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