In 1914, a proposal to combine the U.S. Life-Saving Service and the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service was put forth, and met with the approval of the heads of the two Services. On January 15, 1915, the two organizations were merged to form the U.S. Coast Guard.
The new U. S. Coast Guard continued the lifesaving traditions of its predecessor and was soon put to test. On August 16, 1918, at the height of World War I, the lookout at the Chicamacomico Station, North Carolina, spotted a British tanker, the Mirlo, hit by a torpedo. The shout of the lookout began a rescue by the station crew, under the command of John Allen Midgett, that has become a legend in the annals of the Coast Guard. Twelve years later, in 1930, Midgett and his crew received one of Great Britain's highest honors, The Grand Cross, for their bravery. The citation for the award best sums up what took place that evening in 1918:
"In a heavy northeast sea that caused the lifeboat to be tossed back upon the beach and the crew washed away from the oars time after time. Undaunted they returned to their task. After succeeding in getting their boat through the surf they were compelled to steer into a blazing inferno where the flames leaped at least 500 feet high, and were in serious danger of being burned to death if not drowned. They picked up a number of the crew of the Mirlo and towed four of the ship's boats ... They anchored the boats beyond the breakers and then made four trips in their surf boat bringing the entire 42 survivors safely ashore."
Five members of the lifesaving crew were Midgetts; John Allen Midgett, Jr, Arthur Midgett, Leroy Midgett, Zion Midgett, and Clarence Midgett. The 5th was Procorus "Lee" O'Neal, but he was married to a Midgett!.