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Second ‘Operation: Tribute at Sea’ to be held Dec. 11

By Staff | Nov 23, 2010

The second annual “Operation: Tribute at Sea” will be held Saturday, Dec. 11, to honor veterans who were lost and buried at sea.
Wreaths Across America, a non-profit organization, began after Morrill Worcester of Worcester Wreath donated 5,000 wreaths in 1992 to be laid on the stones at Arlington National Cemetery. After photographs were displayed of wreaths covering the stones in snow on the Internet in 2005, the idea took off and the Wreaths Across America was formed.
Since Worcester could not donate thousands of wreaths to each state, he decided to donate seven wreaths to each state to represent the branches of the military, along with POW/MIA.
Nancy McCarn said she and her husband, Pat, decided to have a burial at sea because there were only services done on land for veterans. She said due to their business, Cape Coral Canal Charters, they realized the veterans lost and buried at sea were not included in the national tribute.
The first local event attracted 16 boats last year, along with many law enforcement divisions.
She said they did not know what to expect due to it being held for the first time last year. A couple of civilian boats also participated, Nancy said, which included a Navy veteran whose father was buried at sea.
“It was so emotional,” Nancy said. “Very impressive.”
The McCarns were provided with bio-degradable wreaths, since they held the tribute on the water.
“We put poinsettias on the wreaths once we got them,” she said about last year’s tribute. “It was one of the most incredible things we have done in our lives.”
Fort Myers Memorial Garden received 59 sponsored wreaths for last year’s event.
On Dec. 11, at noon, the “Operation: Tribute at Sea” ceremony will commence.
Pat McCarn encourages everyone who does not have a boat to still participate in the tribute by visiting the Cape Coral Yacht Club pier to watch the boats pass by around 10:30 a.m.
This year the organizers are anticipating to have anywhere from 15 to 20 boats that will participate in the tribute. Pat McCarn said some of the boats will join along the river, instead of all meeting at the same starting location.
He said they have to travel out three miles from the shore on Fort Myers Beach before they can begin the tribute. He explained that the boats will form a circle before they begin the tribute. It will also be broadcasted on VFH channels 16 and 72, so everyone can hear the service.
The Coast Guard Marlin will also be apart of the tribute at sea with special guest Dorothy Kurtz, who was a World War II Spars for the Coast Guard Women’s Reserve. Councilmember Pete Bryant will also be present during the tribute.
Nancy McCarn said Wreaths Across America’s mission is “remember” the veterans, “honor” their families and “teach” the children the cost of freedom.
She explained that every veteran’s grave should have a wreath on it for the holidays.
“It’s such a worthy cause,” she said, adding that “there are still so many people that don’t know about it.”
The ceremony will begin at Veterans Memorial Bridge at 10 a.m., with a flotilla lead by USCG Auxiliary 9-10, which will proceed down the Caloosahatchee River to the Gulf of Mexico. The ceremony will include seven bio-degradable wreaths adorned with poinsettias for the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines and POW-MIAs.
Cape Coral Police Officers Kevin Taylor and Mike Anderson will provide bugle and bagpipe support and the taps will conclude the event.
For more information, contact Pat and Nancy at 239-673-8749 or email captpat@capecharters.net.
For more information about Wreaths Across America or to sponsor a wreath visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.
Last year, 160,000 sponsored wreaths were placed on veterans’ grave sites at more than 400 locations statewide and 24 national veterans cemeteries on foreign soil.