The Coast Guard Compass was proud to unveil the first 14 heroes the service’s new fast response cutters would be named for and we are even prouder to share the next 10 names with you in a continuation of our Coast Guard Heroes series. Over the next two weeks we’ll be sharing profiles of the namesakes of the Coast Guard’s fast response cutters, from legends of the U.S. Life-Saving Service to courageous men who served during the Vietnam War. Today, we share with you the story of Bailey T. Barco.
Written by Christopher Havern.
On Dec. 21, 1900, the schooner Jennie Hall had run aground in a severe winter storm off the coast of Virginia Beach, Va. Upon notification of the grounding, the Dam Neck Station Life-Saving Station keeper, Bailey T. Barco proceeded to the scene and took command.
Realizing the use of the surfboat was dangerous, if not impossible, Barco directed the assembling of the beach apparatus and soon a breeches buoy had delivered all but one of the survivors to safety.
The last victim was so numbed by the cold that he could not help himself. After an unsuccessful effort by one of the members of the Dam Neck Hills Station to ride the breeches buoy out and help the man, Barco decided to take the surfboat out to the wreck and attempt to put two men aboard Jennie Hall. Following several ill-fated attempts, Barco, as boat coxswain, and his volunteer crew launched the surfboat and put two of the crew aboard the rapidly disintegrating ship.
Despite turbulent and freezing seas, he kept the surfboat under oars until one of his own crew was washed overboard. Quickly recovering the man, Barco guided the surfboat back to the beach. The helpless crewman of Jennie Hall and the two volunteers who had been put aboard the wreck were then brought safely to the beach by the breeches buoy. Bailey Barco’s exemplary courage, fortitude and initiative in this valiant rescue reflected the highest honor upon himself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Life-Saving Service. For extreme and heroic action, Barco was awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal on Oct. 7, 1901.