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Black History Month: African American Service at Tiana Coast Guard Station

The Tiana Coast Guard Station was the second station in the country to be manned by an all African American crew.

The United States Coast Guard was born in 1915 when the US Lifesaving Service merged with the US Revenue Cutter Service.  The Lifesaving Service maintained stations every ten miles or so along the entire coast.  

There were two Lifesaving Stations on Dune Road in Hampton Bays: and Tiana.  The Shinnecock Station was at the site of the current inlet and was swept into the ocean during the . The replacement was not put on the barrier beach, but built on Ponquogue Lighthouse property, where it still stands today. 

The Tiana station’s position was given as "on Tiana Beach, abreast of Shinnecock Bay, and three and one-quarter miles west-southwest of Shinnecock Light."  It is still standing today — actually, they both are. 

The first one built is now owned by the Town of Southampton’s Parks and Recreation Department and can be used by the community.  In fact, the Hampton Bays Historical Society’s July cocktail party will be held there. 

The second Tiana Station, right next door, is currently the beach club Neptunes.  The station was rendered inactive on June 9, 1937. 

While many blacks served in the various services that existed before 1915, President Franklin D. Roosevelt required that African-Americans be accepted into the USCG in all capacities.  In 1942, the first group of 150 African-Americans arrived at Manhattan Beach Training Station. Classes and official activities were integrated, while sleeping and mess facilities were segregated. They were assigned to steward duties and served at important battle stations and many were assigned to shore duty, including labor and security details, or working as storekeepers and yeoman.

When Tiana Station was reactivated for service during World War II, it was manned by an African-American crew and commanded by an African-American Chief Petty Officer, Cecil R. Foster. It was the second such station in the country; the first was at Pea Island, North Carolina. 

The men of the Tiana Station conducted horse and dog patrols, on the lookout for enemy landings along our coast.  Tiana Station was again closed in 1944.

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