Thomas McAdams and the Defenders of Newport

Retired Master Chief Thomas McAdams’ Service Exemplifies the U.S. Coast Guard’s Determination to Protect and Assist All Citizens in Situations of Peril or Distress.

Newport, Oregon is a picturesque coastal community; it’s a much-loved vacation destination that offers miles of sandy beaches, a variety of inclusive activities and events, exquisite seafood and craft beer, a working Historic Bayfront, and endless sport fishing and shellfish harvesting opportunities. The raw beauty and endless bounty of the ocean draws thousands of travelers to Newport each year, and also enables local fishermen to gather the culinary delicacies that provide and sustain their livelihoods. Unfortunately, the Pacific Ocean can be dangerous and even deadly for both locals and visitors alike. That is why the men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard station at Yaquina Bay are always ready to save the lives of those who unexpectedly find themselves in perilous situations; that is why the service of one of Newport’s most famous residents, retired Master Chief Petty Officer Thomas McAdams, personifies the selfless spirit of the U.S. Coast Guard itself.

The U.S. Coast Guard’s Yaquina Bay Station has been the essential lifesaving institution in the Newport area since 1896. Charged with safeguarding the twenty-seven miles of coastline from Cape Perpetua to Spencer Creek, the Yaquina Bay Station’s primary mission is Search and Rescue and Maritime Law Enforcement, and responds to more than 500 calls a year. The Yaquina Bay Station has a staff of over forty-five active duty personnel, who are able to conduct motor lifeboat and helicopter search and rescue at a moment’s notice. The brave men and women of the Yaquina Bay Station have saved hundreds of lives and salvaged property valued at millions of dollars over the past one-hundred years, especially during the last half of the century with the exponential increase of commercial and sport fishing in the area. Although search and rescue missions are conducted everywhere from the rugged coastline to miles out into the open ocean, most lifesaving operations happen just outside of Yaquina Bay Jetty in an area known simply as the bar.

The Yaquina Bay bar is an invisible horizontal barrier, where the deep waters of the Pacific Ocean meet with the much shallower waters coming from the mouth of the Yaquina River. Inside of the bar, north and south rock jetties form a channel that protects the entrance of the Bay from waves and wind, and the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse and Coast Guard watch tower are perched on a hill overlooking the north jetty. The bar can be extremely dangerous during ebb tides, which are periods between high and low tides when slack water flows out of the bay, and during storms, when the waves are rough and massive. During these conditions, most boating accidents on the bar are caused by capsizing, or when the boat overturns or is flipped over by large waves. Improper loading and overloading of boats are the main causes of capsizing; when waves are then able to break into the boat and make it even less stable.

Thomas McAdams knows how dangerous the bar can be.  As a coxswain (the sailor in charge of steering a boat) during a 1957 rescue, McAdams saved four people who had capsized in the surf off Yaquina Bay, even jumping into the ocean as part of the lifesaving mission. He was decorated with the Gold Lifesaving Medal for his selfless service during the operation. This was one of nine “rolls” that McAdams endured and survived off the coasts of Oregon and Washington; a roll is where a Coast Guard motor lifeboat is capsized and is then rolled upright again. Although the motor lifeboats are designed to right themselves after being capsized, the sailors aboard are forced to hold their breaths and endure time underwater until the boat surfaces again. The motor lifeboat used in the 1957 rescue, CG36503, was retired in 1970 and is displayed on the Coast Guard Yaquina Bay Station campus lawn just above the southern edge of Newport’s Historic Bayfront. The iconic lifeboat often appears in photographs of both visitors and locals, and represents the connection between the Coast Guard to the working Yaquina Bayfront.

During his 27 years of service in the Coast Guard, Thomas McAdams is credited with saving hundreds of lives, and received the title “champion lifesaver and lifeboat roller of the Pacific Coast.” McAdams’ unrivaled skills are legendary, and in addition to earning the Gold Lifesaving Medal, he is one of the few people to have also been awarded the Coast Guard Medal when he rescued three people from the ocean during a storm near the Umpqua River in 1968. In 1972, McAdams was presented with the first coxswain’s insignia ever issued, and was later invited to develop curriculum and a textbook for the Coast Guard’s Motor Lifeboat School at Cape Disappointment, Washington. Throughout his career, McAdams was also honored with the Legion of Merit, the Coast Guard Commendation Medal, the Coast Guard Achievement Medal, the Coast Guard Unit Commendation Ribbon, an Oregon Governors Award, the City of Newport, Oregon’s Valor Award, and the Newport Chamber of Commerce Award for Civil Action.

Thomas McAdams retired from the Coast Guard in 1977, and although having been stationed up and down the Pacific Coast, he chose to stay in Newport, where he continued to serve the community for the next two decades as a member of the volunteer fire department. McAdams enjoys the friendly sense of community that Newport offers, and often visits the Yaquina Bay Coast Guard Station and fire department. Come experience the heroism of both the fishermen and the Coast Guard, observe the jetties and bar of the Yaquina Bay and see for yourself why Newport truly is “The Edge of a Continent, the Start of an Adventure.”

U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley

 

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View the Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 from Newport

Make Plans Now to Observe the Total Solar Eclipse on the Path of Totality from Newport, Oregon!

Visitors often travel to Newport, Oregon for seemingly obvious reasons. They come to play on the beach and in the surf, to eat the freshest seafood available and drink fine regional wines and local craft beer, to experience the world-class Oregon Coast Aquarium and the Historic Bayfront, and to enjoy a variety of other sorts of recreation that only this picturesque city by the sea can offer. But did you know that adventurers and sightseers will trek to the coast in record numbers to view the total solar eclipse of 2017?

That’s because Newport is located next to the center of the eclipse’s path of totality; the middle of the 70 mile wide route that the eclipse will follow. That’s right! At approximately 10:15 A.M. on August 21, 2017, the entire total solar eclipse will be visible from Newport for almost two minutes. Whether you view the eclipse from one of the many beaches the city has to offer, or inland from the seashore, the sight is bound to be epic!

A total solar eclipse is an amazing phenomenon; an awe-inspiring experience that surprises and delights those lucky enough to view the event inside the eclipse’s path of totality. In order for a solar eclipse to happen, the Sun, Moon and Earth must be aligned in a perfect straight line during the new Moon phase. A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon blocks out the Sun completely, daylight becomes twilight, and only the Sun’s corona shines through the darkness.

The eclipse of 1979 was the last year a total solar eclipse was visible from North America, and the total solar eclipse of 1918 was the last time a total solar eclipse crossed North America from the Pacific to the Atlantic. So the 2017 total solar eclipse is a very big deal indeed! Thousands of people travel great distances across the world to witness an eclipse, and in August of 2017, we are lucky enough to combine the experience of a total solar eclipse with all of the magic that a visit to Newport has to offer.

A total solar eclipse is easy to prepare for once you plan an extended weekend on the beach. Although August 21st is a Monday, take the day off work in advance, and if you have children back in school, prearrange their absence for that day (it will be something that they remember for a lifetime). Book your hotel or camp site well in advance, because as with most places in the path of totality, lodging availability will become more limited as August 2017 approaches.

The most important preparation for the eclipse is eye protection. You must wear special glasses to view the eclipse so the sun won’t damage your eyes. Special glasses are available for around a dollar a set, and are available online. Make sure to purchase your protective eyewear in advance, because options might be limited right before the eclipse.

Cloudy or foggy weather can detract from the experience, so pay close attention to the forecast. Many eclipse viewers have a back-up plan, so if the weather is not perfect, select an alternative viewpoint that is still within the path of totality. Alternative plans can be made by matching a map of the path of totality with a current weather forecast early on the morning of August 21st.

Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime experience! Plan now to enjoy all of the wonderful opportunities that Newport has to offer, and gather friends and family to join in the fun that will culminate with the total solar eclipse. Please visit the Newport Chamber of Commerce website for a comprehensive list of lodging, dining and recreation options at newportchamber.org. In addition, you may want to download a map of the path of totality, investigate the eclipse further and purchase protective eyewear at eclipse2017.org, or from several other online sites dedicated to the total solar eclipse of 2017.

Preparedness - Solar Eclipse

Lincoln County Emergency Management continues to emphasize individual and community preparedness on an ongoing basis. The Solar Eclipse on August 21, 2017 is reminder to plan and prepare accordingly.

Residents and guests should:

  • Be prepared for crowds, lines and traffic. Be patient. Bring books, games, etc., to keep busy; Take the time in long lines to get to know Oregonians and other visitors via lively conversation. It’s a good time to learn about Oregon and other areas from which guests are visiting, and to make friends from around the state/country/world.
  • Have snacks, water and first-aid supplies on hand in case crowds/lines/traffic become paramount.
  • Become aware of the beauty, splendor and hazards that are all part of Oregon. Know what to do and where to go in the event of severe heat, potential flooding, earthquakes and other natural disasters.
  • Have an emergency kit and an emergency plan; make sure family members or friends back home know your schedule, when you are expected to return and your plan if something happens.
  • It’s critical for families, individuals, communities and businesses to make an emergency plan, and share the plan before, during and after emergencies.

Businesses and Employers should:

  • Prepare for a big jump in customers. Grocery stores, gas stations, hotels, restaurants, transportation services, coffee shops, retail stores, urgent care clinics and many other establishments will experience a jump in business. We encourage them to order goods and schedule staff accordingly. 
  • Be aware that many visitors will be camping in both authorized and unauthorized locations; expect customers who may be primarily interested in using rest rooms. 
  • Encourage employees to have a full tank of gas prior to the time visitors begin to arrive in the area.  Lines for fuel may occur and you’ll want staff to be able to get to work.
  • Be prepared for more cash transactions and potential challenges with credit/debit card transactions taking longer than usual because of increased volumes.  Consider having tills set up to accommodate more cash transactions.
  • Be prepared for cell service overloads; there may be service disruptions due to the increase in visitors using networks. Visitors may have urgent requests to use your business telephone line if they are having trouble with cell service.  Decide how you want to handle these requests and make sure employees know what to do.

The primary role of the Lincoln County Emergency Management coordinate local jurisdictions in their planning efforts, support emergency responders and ensure public safety by obtaining and distributing information, resource requests, and situation analysis.