I’m James Johnson, a member of the VetsBoats committee in support of the WBFV mission. Our committee’s goal is to provide opportunities for Vets to connect, learn some sailing skills, and experience how time on a boat with salt water can replentish the soul. (See our video)
The inspiration for this new Memorial Day tradition came from two sources –
1. A close colleague from the semi-conductor industry in the early 2000’s experienced the tragedy his 21-year-old son being killed in action during the Gulf War. We were a close-knit community in our department, and this loss hit many of us very hard and his son’s memorial service was very emotional. Each Memorial Day those emotions return for the loss of Adam Estep and many, many other servicemen and women who gave all to help ensure our freedom.
2.When my father, a 30-year veteran from the Navy sub community, passed away in 2009 he was afforded full honors with a ceremony at Point Loma, CA. The beautiful setting, meaningful words spoken by friends and relatives, and the 21-gun salute was very impactful. After the ceremony our family made it down to the waterfront of the naval base at Point Loma where he had served two tours of duty. As our family walked around mulling over the poignant ceremony, my brother had the spontaneous idea to take the large flower wreath leftover in the back of the minivan and place it in the water so that it may be offered to my father and others whose soul is still at sea. This was a very heartfelt idea, but my thought was that this wreath would quickly find its way back to shore. (what is referred to in today’s vernacular as a ‘fail’) We watched as the wreath went towards the shore, then back out, then in again and out. Not quite sure of it’s path . . . but more than 30 minutes after it was placed in the water the wreath slowly but surely began to make it’s way out of San Diego bay and into the Pacific.
This idea of the wreath floating out to sea and the Memorial Day emotions came together with the idea of a special VetsBoats mission, to sail with Adam Estep’s father and other Vets who served and were forward deployed to serve their country. June 19th we set sail with six souls onboard including four vets that served in the era of Desert Storm.
The fine yacht Rascal, a Catalina 36’ that’s been helping support WBFV sailing outreach, encountered Force 6 wind and sea conditions near Alcatraz around noon with taller waves, fog, and whitecaps looming as we looked toward the Golden Gate. Yet, the mostly rookie crew was stalwart in their dedication to the day’s mission – to sail out well beyond the Golden Gate and lay a wreath with red, white, and blue flowers out in the Pacific to honor the lives of the sailors and soldiers who’ve lost their lives at sea while defending our freedom.
The pictures tell the rest of the story better than any blog narrative can. . .
Terry founded WBFV in 2014 to build a community of veterans and their families around wooden boats.
Service, Sailing, & Community