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Several members of the Pea Island Life-saving station, including the station keeper, were dismissed for negligence in 1879. When Richard Etheridge, an Afro-American, was placed in command, the remainder of the white crew quit, and Etheridge was free to choose a crew possessing the best qualities of a lifesaver. The crew was all Afro-American. Their service in saving lives earned them a reputation for skill and courage.