The second annual re-enactment of the 1942 landing by four Nazi saboteurs will take place Thursday, at about the same spot on Atlantic Avenue Beach where it happened. The event will begin at the Amagansett Life-Saving and Coast Guard Station at 6:30 p.m., with a brief discussion of the landing.
Hugh King, the East Hampton town crier and director of the Home Sweet Home Museum, promises a bigger and better re-enactment than last year’s inaugural event, this one featuring actors, costumes, and props.
The event will also offer an opportunity to view the progress of the life-saving station’s restoration. Visitors will be among the first to look inside the station’s boat room as its renovation nears completion.
On June 13, 1942, four Germans came ashore on the Amagansett beach, their U-boat temporarily stuck on a sand bar. Four others landed in Florida, part of an overall plan to “blow up plants, munitions centers, and wreak havoc,” Mr. King said.
The Coast Guard, operating from East Hampton’s life-saving stations, patrolled local beaches during World War II. Coastguardsman John Cullen, 21 years old, was patrolling from the Atlantic Avenue station when he encountered the four men on the beach, a short ways east of the station. “The saboteurs offered him $400” to keep quiet about seeing them, Mr. King recounted. “He took the money and ran back to the station and reported it.” The four made their way to the Amagansett railroad station and, from there, to New York City, where they were captured. Several books have been written about the incident.
Starting on the new porch of the life-saving station, Kent Miller (portraying Carl Jenette, another guardsman) will send Sonny Sireci (as Mr. Cullen), out on patrol. At that point, everyone will walk to the beach, where the action will resume as the saboteurs unload a dinghy filled with explosives, clothing, ropes, and a briefcase full of money.
Following the shoreline encounter, the audience will return to the life-saving station, where Mr. “Cullen” will hurry to tell Mr. “Jenette” everything. At that point, Peter Garnham, director of the Amagansett Historical Association, will sum up what happened afterward.
The life-saving station, built in 1902 and owned by the Town of East Hampton, has undergone a dramatic transformation since its restoration began. “Last year, it was a total shambles. If it wasn’t for the re-enactment and Ben Krupinski coming, we wouldn’t be where we are,” said Mr. Miller, the chairman of the Life-Saving Station committee. The East Hampton contractor was much taken by the story of the saboteurs at last year’s re-enactment and subsequently donated funding and services to the restoration.
“He loved it, loved the building. He brought in contractors to do gutters, shingling. It’s thanks to his generosity and all the other vendors who gave their time and money,” Mr. Miller said. “When you walk around it, it’s fabulous.”
Restoration of the building’s exterior is mostly complete, Mr. Miller said, though the chimneys and porch need waterproofing. The interior is still undergoing renovation. The original 64-foot flagpole will be erected “in the next couple months, we’re hoping,” he said.
Next Thursday’s event will include a tribute to Capt. Milton Miller, a bayman who was a Coast Guardsman in his youth. Captain Miller, who was born on Atlantic Avenue, advocated for the preservation of the life-saving station right up until he died, in December, at the age of 97.