Skip Navigation


Security Levels

A Coast Guard Career:

BMC-L Ira Lewis's Scrapbook, Dated From 1938-1959


BMC-L Ida Lewis, USCGThe following images were taken from a scrapbook put together by BMC-L Ira Lewis (left, note his distinctive Surfman's uniform), who enlisted in the Coast Guard as a Surfman in 1938.  He spent his 21-year Coast Guard career at many of the lifeboat stations along the coast of Long Island and he took photographs of most of the stations and activities as his career progressed through the 1940s and 1950s.  These are historically important because they document visually all of the activities that went on at these little heralded stations, including training activities such as launching a lifeboat through the surf, capsize drills, firing the Lyle gun, setting up a breeches buoy, and running a DUKW into the surf and back out again.  During this period, the cutters far out at sea have garnered far more attention than the men at the shore stations, who could trace their proud lineage back to the old U.S. Lifesaving Service, and therefore we are pleased to present this rare artifact of Coast Guard history.  Lewis's daughter, Ms. Margaret Ann Rose, took the time to have the images scanned and sent to us.  We are grateful for her efforts to preserve Coast Guard history.

(Click on each thumbnail image to view full-size photograph)

Summary of the U.S. Coast Guard career of BMC-L Ira Lewis
Ann Rose

Enlisted on Aug. 1, 1938.  During the 1940's he was stationed in the 3rd District at a number of the stations on the western half of Long Island.  The beach areas where he served were (west to east): Rockaway Beach, Atlantic Beach, Long Beach, Jones Beach, Fire Island, Bellport Beach, Smith's Point, [and] Forge River.  

During the 1950s he was at the Fire Island & Rockaway Point Stations.  He spent a substantial amount of time at the Moriches and Shinnecock Lifeboat Stations.  His last duty station, prior to retirement on Aug. 1, 1959, was at Montauk Light Station.  After retirement he moved back to his native Harkers Island, NC, where he worked as a Civil Service employee at Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, NC.  He also did commercial fishing (part time, for fun) for about 15 years.  He has one son, Phil, and one daughter, Margaret Ann, plus 5 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.

This collection of photos represents the years of duty on Long Island, New York -- primarily in the 1940s and 1950s.  There is another smaller collection of photos representing Ira's 2 1/2 years duty (Mar. 1957 - Aug. 1959) at Montauk Lighthouse, L.I., N.Y.  Since there is an abundance of lighthouse information at "this" website, these photos were not needed here and therefore excluded.  This collection, however, has been submitted to the Montauk Lighthouse Museum for inclusion in their historical website ( if they desire to accept them.  (If you do not find this collection at their site, you may e-mail the director of the museum ( to find out the status of this particular collection.  Both of these collections (Long Island 1940s-50s and the Montauk Lighthouse) are stored on CD by the Lewis family.

As of Spring 2005, Ira (at age 86 and over 45 years since retirement) still lives at his native Harkers Island.  He welcomes any inquiries regarding his photo collection (places, people, drills, stations, etc.)  His mailing address is 143 Cape Lookout Drive, Harkers Island, NC  28531.  (This photo collection was compiled by his daughter, Margaret Ann Rose, 293 Bayview Drive, Harkers Island, NC 28531).

The Historian's Office recently received a letter in which Chief Lewis describes in detail what a Surfman was all about.  Click here to read: THE U.S. LIFE-SAVING SERVICE & THE SURFMAN as experienced by Ira Lewis BMC(L).

Scrapbook Index:

Last Modified 1/12/2016