Commissioned as Navy Section Base 9 in 1917, the US Coast Guard Training Center at Cape May stands on the site of a former amusement park that bordered the Atlantic Ocean a few miles east of Cape May in southern New Jersey. Dirigibles, submarines, and minesweepers were based here during World War I.
Because of its proximity to the ocean and Delaware Bay, the base was used by Coast Guard patrol boats and cutters to chase rumrunners during Prohibition in the 1920s. An airfield was established adjacent to the base in 1926, and in 1940, both combined to become Naval Air Station Cape May.
The station protected the coast line from German U-boats during World War II. The Coast Guard took over the facility in 1946, and in 1948, the base became the only recruit training center in the country, today graduating more than 4,000 recruits per year.
Highlights of US Coast Guard Training Center at Cape May:
• All of the profits from the sale of the book are being donated to the Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Musuem.
• The book includes aerial photographs of the site that date from the 1919 to the present.
• A famous WWI Coat Guard aviator, Charles Thrun, died in the icy waters off of Cape May in 1935 while testing a new airplane. He was the first Coast Guard aviator to be killed in a crash.
• The dining hall for Coast Guard recruits and permanent party is dedicated to Richard Etheridge (1842-1900), a Union army veteran born a slave who became the first African American keeper of a lifesaving station.
Joseph E. Salvatore, MD, is the non-salaried executive director of the Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum. Joan Berkey is an architectural historian and author. US Coast Guard Training Center at Cape May contains photographs and images from the museum’s archives, most of them previously unpublished.
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