One of my favorite aspects of being an intern so far is the Ghost Walks. Guiding them allows me to have a lot of interaction with guests: I get to help them have fun in the building and learn interesting information about places in Virginia Beach they might have seen or visited. And I love the stories themselves. They are a combination of history and mystery, and they get people talking about their own experiences.
My favorite story is one about our station—the man photographed in the stairwell. In 2017, someone took a picture of the watchtower stairs in which a shadowy man appears, with two rows of gold buttons down the front of his jacket. There are many reasons I like this one best, but the main one is because it interests the participants more than most others.
One of the reasons it’s my favorite is because of the research that went into possibly identifying the figure. At first, staff assumed that the figure was one of our Coast Guardsmen in his uniform, with its double row of gold buttons. However, as staff did research, they discovered the mystery man could be from a specific incident. When ships exploded off the beach after hitting German mines in June 1942, our surfmen responded and retrieved the wounded. They also brought ashore the body of the only man killed, a career merchant mariner named Ruben Redwine.
This story is one of the only documented cases of a corpse being held in the building. When staff researched the incident and Mr. Redwine, they found that a merchant mariner of his status would wear a uniform similar to a Coast Guardsmen, with two rows of gold buttons down the front! So many paranormal stories about the building are anonymous: orbs, footsteps, and voices through the spirit box. The guests–and I–appreciate that some time and the archives uncovered the probably identity of one of our ghosts.
I also like telling the story because of how the guests respond. They love that it happened so recently, and that it was experienced by someone visiting as part of the Ghost Walk! The stories we tell take place over the last 50 years, but this picture happened only last year. This gives our visitors great motivation for ghost hunting in the building themselves.