Members of the U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic City Station and Auxiliary at the American Legion Veterans Day service, Nov. 11, 2022.


LONGPORT – American Legion Post 469 will be honoring former Longport Beach Patrol Chief Capt. James Turner and five U.S. Coast Guardsmen who perished in a daring rescue attempt during the nor’easter storm of March 6, 1932.

Legionnaires are planning a brief but meaningful service at noon Monday, March 6 at Thomas B. Reed Park at the foot of the Longport Bridge. The ceremony will follow the U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic City Station’s annual memorial service for the men being held at 10 a.m. at the Absecon Lighthouse in Atlantic City. Afterward, active duty members of the U.S. Coast Guard and Auxiliary members will travel to Longport to participate in the borough service.

The ceremony honors five Coast Guard members who died attempting to rescue a ship floundering in high wind and seas off the coast near Steel Pier in Atlantic City. Two wooden U.S. Coast Guard boats capsized during the rescue. Five men drowned and only one man was able to make it back to shore alive. That man was Lt. James Turner, who recovered from hypothermia in the hospital. Turner eventually became a resident of Longport, serving for more than 20 years as chief of the borough’s Beach Patrol. He affectionately became known as Capt. Turner, and at least one of the lifeguards he mentored called him “a man as salty as the sea.” The Beach Patrol continues to honor him with its annual Capt. Turner Swim each summer.

According to Legionnaire John Stroebele, the first boat out to rescue the fishing sloop, “Anna,” included Turner and two men. The boat flipped over and only one body was recovered. Spectators on Steel Pier concerned about what they were witnessing called for another boat to assist.

Longport American Legion Post 469 help the U.S. Coast Guard place brick pavers honoring five men who perished in the Storm of 1932.

The Post memorialized the service of the five rescuers during its annual Veterans Day ceremony Nov. 11, 2022, when it installed brick pavers bearing their names at the base of the monument. Those who perished in that daring and brave rescue attempt were Harold Livingston, William Graham, David A. Barnett, Marvin E. Rhordes and William R. Garton, the only man recovered from the first capsized boat. The bodies of the three men in the second boat were never recovered.

Stroebele said Capt. Turner’s daughter Mimi and several of her children and grandchildren will attend the service.

“It’s appropriate to honor these five men who gave their lives in service to others,” Stroebele said.

The Legion will install a bronze plaque in their honor at the sundial monument, which on certain days and times depicts great moments in U.S. military history.

The plaque has been designed by the same local architect who designed the sundial memorial, Stroebele said.

The iconic 5-pointed star monument, representing the five branches of U.S. military, has brass medallions scattered in the exact locations where the sundial casts a shadow on important dates and times that reflect military and local history, Stroblele said.

“It was designed to be a spot where people could walk and think about the service of their forefathers,” Stroebele said. “When we designed it, we envisioned visits from school children where they could learn about American and New Jersey history, such as Washington Crossing the Delaware and the 4th of July to give them a flavor of American history.”

The last medallion added to the monument commemorates 9-11.

Members of the public are encouraged to attend the 15-20-minute ceremony.

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Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.