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Group to reenact the Bataan Death March on Ocracoke on Friday

A few members of the group that will march in Ocracoke in honor of the Bataan Death March. Sergeant Kyle Yancy of the Gaston County Police Department; Jack Dee, a junior at Gaston Day School, Phil Dee of US PATRIOT and Michael Ginther. Photo courtesy of Phil Dee

Reprinted from the OBX Voice. Headline corrected. It’s on Friday, April 16.

By Michelle Wagner

When the COVID-19 pandemic turned the annual Bataan Memorial Death March at the Sands Missile Range in New Mexico into a virtual event, Retired U.S. Army officer Phil Dee hit upon an ideal location for his group to hold their 26-mile memorial march.

Dee, of Kings Mountain, NC, will lead a group of seven, including his son Jack, on a march that will take place on Ocracoke Island on April 16. After taking the ferry from Hatteras to Ocracoke, they will hike 13 miles along the beach and N.C. 12 and then turn around and march back to the ferry dock.

The Bataan Death March of 1942 involved 75,000 U.S. and Filipino soldiers who surrendered to Japanese forces after the Battle of Bataan, according to the Bataan Memorial Death March website. Deprived of food, water and medical attention, they were forced to walk 65 miles through jungles and horrendous conditions to confinement camps. Approximately 10,000 soldiers – about 1,000 of them U.S. soldiers – died or were killed along the march. Those who survived faced the hideous conditions and the brutality of their captors.

The soldiers captured represented multiple branches of the U.S. military, including members of the 200th Coast Artillery, New Mexico National Guard. There are only three U.S. survivors of the march still living today.

“It’s probably one of the most horrific [incidents of] POW treatments,” Dee stated, noting that many of the prisoners were put on what were called “hell ships” and transported to other islands. Dee added that his father was a Navy officer stationed in the South Pacific during World War II and that he had a cousin who had died on one of those ships.

“What these men have endured, physically spiritually and emotionally, is unlike anything any of us can even fathom,” he continued. “For ourselves, we all need to recognize that we can handle much more than we know. Just look at the Bataan survivors. On top of that, they learned to forgive. And that skill is probably what has saved them…Selfishly, we want our sons and daughters to know their story and try to understand what these men have done. And then apply it to themselves and know they can handle so much more than they think.”

Dee said that when the group was deciding where to do this year’s march, they settled on the Outer Banks, agreeing that would be interesting to do it there and that the unpredictable weather adds a challenging element.

The group and trip are being sponsored by US PATRIOT Tactical, a military and public safety gear and uniform company that Dee is a partner in.

Dee’s group, which plans on catching the 5 a.m. ferry to Ocracoke to begin the march, is among between 7,000 and 8,000 people across the country registered for this year’s virtual event that can be done anytime between April 9 and 18.

Dee and his group are shooting to return to the Ocracoke ferry dock for the 3 p.m. ferry and knowing that they will be without supplies or water until they reach Ocracoke Village, they will carry in what they need.

Noting that he is a former tank commander with the U.S. Army and his wife, Sandie, is a former U.S. Army pilot, Dee acknowledged that those they are honoring “are our people.”

(Anyone wishing to march for a few miles with Dee’s group on April 16 is welcome. Phil Dee can be reached at 704-898-2210.)

OIRRT to hold public meeting


The Ocracoke Interfaith Relief & Recovery Team will hold a public meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 20, to discuss the progress of home rebuilding and recovery on the island from flooding by Hurricane Dorian on Sept. 6, 2019.

The meeting will be held on Facebook livestream on (OIRRT) Facebook page.

Questions for the group can be emailed by 5 p.m. April 19 to Alicia Peel, administrative assistant, at apeel@oirrt.org.

Pamlico Sound ferries back on modified schedule

Pamlico Sound ferries are back in business on a modified schedule while dredging continues. Photo: C. Leinbach

The N.C. Department of Transportation’s Ferry Division resumed modified service on Pamlico Sound between Cedar Island, Swan Quarter and Ocracoke today.

Service will begin with a two-boat, alternate schedule while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues to dredge in Bigfoot Slough.

The schedule for April 13 to 16, weather permitting, is as follows:

  • Ocracoke to Cedar Island:  7:30 a.m., 1 p.m.
  • Cedar Island to Ocracoke: 10:30 a.m., 4:30 p.m.
  • Ocracoke to Swan Quarter: 7 a.m., 1:30 p.m.
  • Swan Quarter to Ocracoke: 10 a.m., 4:30 p.m.

The Army Corps of Engineers’ Dredge Murden and Dredge Merritt will continue working in the Bigfoot Slough channel throughout the week to clear the shoaling, but dredging operations are dependent on weather and tides.

Once the dredging work is complete and water depths and channel widths return to acceptable levels, the Ferry Division will resume its regular, three-boat schedule on both routes.

For up-to-the-minute information on schedule changes on the Cedar Island and Swan Quarter routes, please follow @NCFerryPamSound on Twitter.

Ocracoke events week of April 12 to 17

An afternoon respite on the Community Square dock. Photo: C. Leinbach

Tuesday, April 13
Ocracoke Health Center will hold a COVID-19 vaccine clinic for its patients and will offer vaccinations from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. or until vaccines run out. Those residents who aren’t patients may register on the spot.

Ocracoke Occupancy Tax Board will meet at 6 p.m. in the Community Center but the meeting will only be available online to the general public via the Hyde County Public Information Facebook page. The live stream will begin when the meeting is called to order. You do not need to be a Facebook member to view the live stream but can access our Facebook page by going to the following website https://www.facebook.com/HydeCounty.

Saturday, April 17
Ocracoke Waterfowl Festival, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Berkley Barn grounds. See story here.

Two dredges to attack shoaling in Big Foot Slough

The Army Corps of Engineers’ has received approval to dredge around a huge shoaled area, in red above, in Big Foot Slough just outside Ocracoke.

Correction: The Ocracoke Waterways Commission will meet at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 20. The story is corrected below and updated as modified ferry service resumed today (April 13).

By Connie Leinbach

After several days of plugging away at the shoaling in Big Foot Slough, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has initiated a tag-team approach with two dredges.

The ACE on Friday received approval for the emergency operation of dredging to the immediate west of the federal channel through which both the Cedar Island and Swan Quarter ferries traverse to get to and from Ocracoke.

The severe shoaling in Big Foot Slough just outside Ocracoke forced the suspension on April 7 of the Pamlico Sound ferries. Resumption of these ferry runs began Tuesday (April 13).

Since these are under federal control (rather than state), the ACE is tasked with conducting the dredging. Shoaling occurs when sand and sediment fill into a ferry channel making water depths too shallow and the channel too narrow for safe operation of the ferry system’s vessels.

Both the side caster dredge Merritt and the hopper dredge Murden are working in the slough and also at the north end of Ocracoke in the South Ferry channel, but at different times.

This channel, which used to be near the old “short route,” benefits commercial and recreational fishing boats and the Coast Guard on their way out into the ocean, Dare County Project Manager Brent Johnson said.

The Murden is working in South Ferry Channel and the Merritt is working in Big Foot until Wednesday, said Jan Peterson, dredge manager. That night, the Murden will come back to Ocracoke and dredging will be a 24/7 event with the Merritt in the slough during the day and the Murden working there overnight.

Dredging is done to both widen and deepen these channels, said Todd Horton, chief of waterways management.

“The Merritt is better at widening the channel and the Murden is better for deepening channels,” noted Peterson. “We’re hitting it with everything we got.”

On Friday, the ACE received emergency approval to dredge outside the federally authorized area. (See notice at end.)

As seen on the graphic above, the straight line of hash marks is the current federal channel, and it is blocked by a huge amount of sand, shown in shades of red. In that red area, the water depth is about three feet and ferries need at least 10 feet of water.

But a new line of hash marks, labeled on the graphic as an alternate channel, is shown going around this red area.

That is the area where the ACE has received approval to dredge, Horton said, and that area has eight feet of water. The emergency order is seeking to dredge to 10 feet with possibly two feet more.

As for width, the minimum width for ferries to be able to pass safely is 100 feet, Horton said. Right now, the channel is only 85 feet wide, he said, and they will try to get it to 150 feet.

Big Foot is a federal channel, but a deeper, natural channel to the west, called Nine Foot, would possibly better serve Ocracoke.

But that channel would have to receive federal designation, which takes an Act of Congress.

The Merritt last dredged Big Foot in October, thanks in part to a cash gift from Carteret County.

This year, the ACE has more than $1 million to dredge Big Foot thanks to a higher budget for the ACE, which was mentioned in the December Ocracoke Waterways Commission meeting, and an additional half million thanks to U.S. Rep. Greg Murphy.

A Waterways Commission meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 20, virtually on Facebook on the Hyde County Public Information page.

Lake Mattamuskeet Watershed Restoration Plan virtual meeting set for April 15

Lake Mattamuskeet in Hyde County is the largest natural freshwater lake in North Carolina. Photo: C. Leinbach

From our news sources

Whether you live or farm within the Lake Mattamuskeet watershed, or visit the lake because you love to fish, hunt, or enjoy viewing waterfowl and wildlife, you can learn and ask questions about the latest actions to restore the lake from the comfort of your home during a virtual public meeting from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. April 15.

Hosted by the N.C. Coastal Federation, the meeting will cover the work underway with the Lake Mattamuskeet Watershed Restoration Plan to restore the lake’s water quality and reduce flooding throughout the watershed.

Staff from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will provide updates about ongoing monitoring within the lake and review the details of a carp removal project.

Engineers from Geosyntec Consultants and Coastal Protection Engineering will review the results of a watershed-scale model that was developed to better understand where and how much water currently moves through the watershed based on various rainfall amounts and changes in sea level.

Additionally, the professional consultants will provide an overview of the engineering alternatives that are currently being evaluated. Undergraduate engineering students from East Carolina University will also present conceptual plans for three projects within the watershed that could potentially reduce flooding issues and improve water quality within the lake.

To register and to view the meeting agenda, please visit nccoast.org/LMWRPVirtualMeeting. The meeting can be viewed from any computer via Zoom by registering in advance.

Those with limited internet access may make reservations to view the meeting at the Hyde County Government Services building by contacting Daniel Brinn at dbrinn@hydecountync.gov or 252- 926-7253.

Capacity is limited due to social distancing requirements and will be provided to those who register in advance.

To view the approved watershed restoration plan and materials from past public meetings, visit www.nccoast.org/lakemattamuskeet.

Interested community members and stakeholders can also sign up for future email updates and leave comments via this project webpage. Contact Michael Flynn with any questions at michaelf@nccoast.org or 252-473-1607.

The North Carolina Coastal Federation, a nonprofit membership organization, works to keep the coast of North Carolina a great place to live, work and play through a variety of programs and partnerships.

To learn more, visit nccoast.org, or call 252-393-8185.

RMS Titanic: The fatally flawed Hatteras connection


Reprinted by permission from the Island Free Press
April 8, 2021 
By James D. Charlet

“Der Untergand der ‘Titanic’” Literally “The Underland of the Titanic,” or sinking of. This engraving appeared the same year, 1912, in German magazine, Die Gartenlaube, with subtitle, or The Garden Arbor – Illustrated Family Journal. This paper was founded in 1850 and was the forerunner of ‘modern’ and immensely popular illustrated newspapers such as Harper’s Monthly and Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper. Public domain. Engraving by Willie Stöwer

April 14, 2021, marks the day that the world’s largest manmade, moving object began its titanic futile struggle to survive 109 years ago, only days after its birth.

More newspaper accounts, magazine articles, books, radio and TV talk shows, documentaries, and motion pictures have been made about the Royal Mail Ship (RMS) Titanic sinking than any other maritime disaster in our history. In spite of that massive amount of coverage, there remains a dark, little-known connection to Hatteras, hundreds of miles away. The physical evidence remains there today.

The complete story is the subject of Chapter 18 in my book, Shipwrecks of the Outer Banks: Dramatic Rescues and Fantastic Wrecks in the Graveyard of the Atlantic, which is available through Globe Pequot Press (imprint of Rowman & Littlefield), as well as through international booksellers, such as Amazon.

By now, it is clear that the answer to the sinking of this “unsinkable” leviathan is not the simplistic one-word answer of “iceberg.” No, it was a complex cauldron of more than fire and ice; it also involved a perfect storm of fatally flawed human misjudgments.

In 1870, the United States Weather Bureau, (now the National Weather Service), was established solely as a strategic information source for the U.S. military, and was thus placed under the Secretary of War Department, now the Defense Department. Several weather stations were built in key locations, and one of the first was in an area widely infamous for stormy weather: Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

Working late into the night of Sunday, April 14, 1912, station operators Richard Dailey and Horace Gaskins received an urgent telegram message at 11:25 p.m. This time, 12:25 a.m. Hatteras time, is an extremely important clue to this mystery.

The message contained the words “CQD: Have Struck Iceberg.” It was from the RMS Titanic. Dailey and Gaskins immediately forwarded the message to their headquarters, the New York Station. It was received by 21-year-old David Sarnoff, (the future president of the Radio Corporation of America.) Like everyone else at the time, Sarnoff “knew” that the Titanic was unsinkable, so he severely chastised the senders, thinking it was a hoax. In his response, he said that the senders were troublemakers who were just “clogging up the lines,” and that they were to refrain from any further communications.

Here we encounter one of the most popular misconceptions of all time. Though many people now believe that “CDQ” stands for “Come Quickly, Distress,” it was actually a message of “Security, Distress”

French was the International Language of the time. The term “CQ” was originally the English-speaking telegraph operators shorthand of the French word, “seću,” pronounced “see-cue” meaning “security.” This was to precede a secure, important safety message; it was an alert, “stations, listen up!” The “D” was added by Marconi stations in 1904 to indicate “Distress.” As always, when things don’t make sense, we make up stories to help them make sense.  Unfortunately, CQD never meant “Come Quickly, Distress.”

The text of the telegram received at Hatteras reads: Received Hatteras Station at 11:25 p.m. TITANIC calling C.Q.D. giving reading 41.44 about 380 miles SSE of Cape Race. At 11:35 p.m. TITANIC gives corrected position as 41.46 N 50.14W. A matter of five or six miles difference. He says “have struck iceberg.”

Tragically, the error is compounded. There was a second chance. The steamship RMS Carpathia was the nearest ship to Titanic’s reported position, being only 67 miles away. They had received distress messages from the Titanic. In Hatteras Village, weather bureau operators Dailey and Gaskins also received this telegraph traffic. Due to their previous reprimand, they did not forward this second message to the New York office.

The Hatteras receipt of this telegram message was probably the earliest of anywhere, because of the time that we typically hear that the Titanic hit the iceberg, which was at 11:40 p.m.

Notice in the famous James Cameron blockbuster movie that the clock does focus on 11:40. The Hatteras Weather Bureau reports receiving the message at 11:25 p.m., and Titanic’s first distress message was recorded as 12:15 a.m., her time, which was an hour earlier due to time zones. A corrected message from the Titanic was sent at 12:25 a.m., and that would be 11:25 p.m., Hatteras time, an exact match.

Had that distress call been acted upon at 12:25 a.m. Titanic time, there would have been another two hours and 40 minutes before she sank, which may have been plenty of time to rescue the over 1,500 souls who perished. It took almost exactly two hours for the world’s greatest ship, on her maiden voyage, to sink at 2:20 a.m. (her time) the next day, Sunday, April 15.

The telegram incident lay in fallow for almost 100 years. The 1901 Hatteras Weather Station was decommissioned in 1946 and finally vacated in 1995. Fortunately, restoration work was started in 2001 and finished in 2005. In the course of the restoration in 2005, workers were removing old newspapers and crumpled documents from the walls which had been used as insulation.

One piece of that paper was an old, crumpled fade telegram, dated April 14, 1912.

The actual evidence – the original 1912 telegram received at the Hatteras Weather Bureau – still exists, and is on public display in the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum.

Hyde COVID-19 back up to 18 cases


The Hyde County Health Department on Friday said that COVID-19 cases are on the rise again with 18 active cases as of Friday, up from zero cases at the end of March.

Along with the active cases, Hyde County Health Director Luana Gibbs, in a press release, noted that Hyde has logged 636 recovered cases, eight deaths and a total case count of 662.

The bulk of our total count (number of cases from the beginning of the pandemic through today) are people between the ages of 25-49 (40%); male (61%); white (57%); and have not been hospitalized (74%). 

For specific information, such as zip code locations of cases and demographics, please visit NC Division of Health and Human Services website at https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/dashboard, which breaks down information by county. 

The site gives data by number of cases, cases per 10,000 and 100,000 residents and other useful information.

“Hyde County’s posted numbers will usually differ from the state website, as we give numbers that are the most current and the state has some lag time,” Gibbs said.  “You can access the number of vaccinations at this website as well.”

According to the website, Hyde County has 2,220 people partially vaccinated, or 44.6%, and 1,513 fully vaccinated, or 30.6%.

As noted in the past, the way to overcome this pandemic is by communities globally doing their part, Gibbs said. 

“It is imperative that we obtain the COVID-19 vaccine AND continue to follow the 3Ws guidelines,” she said. “To protect one another, we must practice the 3Ws and get our COVID-19 shots. 

The Ocracoke Health and Engelhard Medical centers will hold mass vaccination clinics for their patients aged 18 and older on Tuesday (April 13).

Ocracoke will offer vaccinations from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. or until vaccines run out and Engelhard will offer vaccinations from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. or until vaccines run out.  These vaccines will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

Those patients who can’t make the clinic can schedule appointments at the Hyde Health Department, 252-926-4474, or the Ocracoke Health Center at 252-489-3622.

For 24/7, on-call services, call the Coronavirus Hotline 1-866-462-3821.  

Statewide NC coronavirus numbers as of April 9, 2021

  • Total reported NC cases – 929,406
  • New cases reported today – 2,509
  • Reported deaths – 12,248 (24 since yesterday)
  • Currently hospitalized 977 (27 fewer than yesterday)
  • Suspected COVID-19 cases hospitalized in past 24 hours – 110 (24 fewer than yesterday)
  • Confirmed COVID-19 case hospitalized in past 24 hours – 101 (21 fewer than yesterday)
  • Adults in ICU with COVID-19 – 243 (12 less than yesterday)
  • Patients presumed to be recovered – 887,724
  • Reported cases in Dare, Currituck and Hyde Counties – 5,148 (Dare 3,011,Currituck 1,475, Hyde 662)
  • Completed tests – 11,641,898
  • Daily percent positive tests – 4.6%
  • Vaccine doses administered – 5,624,683

Roadway cleanups in April and May on Ocracoke

Orange NCDOT bags for trash pickups on Ocracoke from April 10 to 24 are available for volunteers to pickup at the Ocracoke NCDOT building beside the Ocracoke Sanitary District Office on Water Plant Road. Photo by Keith Gaskins

The N.C. Department of Transportation is seeking volunteers to help clean up trash along roads during the Adopt-A-Highway Spring Litter Sweep for two weeks starting Saturday (April 10) to April 24.

Each April and September, NCDOT asks volunteers to help remove litter from roadsides. Volunteers are provided with clean-up supplies, such as trash bags, gloves and safety vests, from local NCDOT county maintenance yard offices. 

Volunteers on Ocracoke will be on their own during this two-week effort, but Keith Gaskins, the Ocracoke NCDOT supervisor, said he will have orange NCDOT trash bags, some vests and gloves available for volunteers at the maintenance office along Water Plant Road beside the Ocracoke Sanitary District.

After filling their bags with roadside trash, volunteers can secure them and leave them alongside a village road or N.C. 12 and the Ocracoke NCDOT employees will pick them up, Gaskins said.

Information is also on the NDOT Litter Sweep webpage here.

As part of ongoing litter removal efforts, NCDOT crews, contractors and volunteers have now collected more than 3 million pounds of litter from state-maintained roadsides this year.

Congressman Greg Murphy, M.D., who represents Ocracoke, is organizing and participating in a district-wide effort for constituents to clean up roadsides, beaches and parks across eastern North Carolina on Saturday, May 8.

Angie Todd, Ocracoke’s Hyde County Board of Education representative, and who has organized cleanups in the past, will organize this cleanup and post details on various Facebook pages.

All volunteers for these cleanups are encouraged to follow proper COVID-19 safety guidance. This includes wearing a mask and gloves at all times and keeping six feet apart from other volunteers.

Cedar Island, Swan Quarter ferry routes suspended due to shoaling

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ dredge Murden continues to work in Bigfoot Slough outside of Ocracoke to clear out the shoaling.

The N.C. Department of Transportation’s Ferry Division late this afternoon (April 7) suspended all ferry service on Pamlico Sound between Cedar Island, Swan Quarter and Ocracoke through Monday, April 12, due to worsening shoaling issues in the channel just outside of Ocracoke’s Silver Lake Harbor.

Shoaling occurs when sand and sediment fill into a ferry channel making water depths too shallow and the channel too narrow for safe operation of the ferry system’s vessels.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will continue to work in the affected channel–Bigfoot Slough–to clear the shoaling. The Ferry Division will reassess channel conditions on Monday and make a decision on whether to resume service at that time.

For up-to-the-minute information on schedule changes on the Cedar Island and Swan Quarter routes, please follow @NCFerryPamSound on Twitter.

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