The Coast Guard Academy football program will honor the legacy of the United States Life-Saving Service Station 17 by wearing an alternate uniform in four games this season.
“We want our athletic program to engender pride in the service,” athletic director Dr. Dan Rose said in a statement. “It took 100 years for the Pea Island crew to be awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal. We didn’t want to wait that long before we honored their legacy on the field.”
Located on Pea Island on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Station 17 was the first life-saving station in the country to have an all-black crew, led by Capt. Richard Etheridge.
The crew performed hundreds of rescue missions during Etheridge’s 20 years in charge, including the 1896 rescue of the E.S. Newman, which was grounded during a hurricane. They successfully saved the lives of all nine passengers, and the crew was posthumously awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal for their bravery in 1996.
“We’ve wanted to have a specialty uniform celebrating the service’s history for a while now,” Rose said. “When I talked to my colleagues at the other service academies for advice they all told me the same thing, you have to start with a story.”
The adidas uniforms come in both home and road versions but ditch the Bears’ usual royal blue and orange color palette for a navy blue and gold scheme.
The helmet is white with stripes down the center and a gray facemask. It prominently displays the emblem of the U.S. Life-Saving Service on both sides – which includes a life preserver, oar and pike – as well as a Station 17 logo on the back.
The jersey, meanwhile, features contrasting yoke on the shoulders and U.S.L.S.S. on the chest above the numbers, as well as “Pea Island” on the back nameplate. The Station 17 logo can also be seen on the left hip of the pants.
The Coast Guard Academy wore the home version for Saturday’s Homecoming win over Nichols and will wear it again on Oct. 2 against Norwich and Nov. 13 against Merchant Marine. The road version will make an appearance on Oct. 16 against Catholic University, meanwhile.
Photos courtesy of @CGA_Football on Twitter.