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National Wreaths Across America Day: Those missing, buried at sea, to be remembered

By Staff | Dec 14, 2017

A ceremony on Saturday will honor military personnel who have been lost or buried at sea.

In recognition of National Wreaths Across America Day, live balsam wreaths will be placed at the headstones of fallen veterans at nearly 1,000 locations across the country, overseas and in the Gulf of Mexico. Locally, an event is planned at Tarpon Point Marina; the community is welcome to attend.

The ninth annual wreath presentation ceremony will start at 9:45 a.m. at the marina. Nancy McCarn, location co-leader, explained that a convoy will lead the remembrance wreaths to the event with police, fire, the Patriot Guard Riders, Vietnam Brotherhood, American Legion Riders and others involved.

“We have all veteran motorcycle riders,” she said. “It’s about 30 to 40 motorcycles.”

There will be seven wreaths, one for each branch of the military – Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard – along with one for the Merchant Marines and one for the POW/MIAs.

“Ours, more or less, have to be handmade,” McCarn said, adding that they are biodegradable.

Spencer Roach, district director for U.S. Congressman Francis Rooney, will be on hand to represent the congressman’s office. Other possible dignitaries include the city’s new mayor, Joe Coviello.

“We have 14 Gold Star family members,” she said.

The Gulf Eagle Division Sea Cadets, VFW Post 8436, American Legion Post 136, Coast Guard auxiliary, Vietnam Veterans of America and Guns ‘n’ Hoses Pipes ‘n’ Drums are taking part.

The event will also include the singing of the national anthem, playing of “Taps” and more. McCarn explained that the wreaths will then be loaded onto boats for the at-sea portion of the ceremony.

Anchored about three miles off shore, the flotilla ceremony will involve the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Cape, Fort Myers and Fort Myers Beach yacht clubs, Cape police and fire, and others.

“There’s usually anywhere between 30 and 50 boats,” McCarn said.

This year, the ashes from retired, cloth American flags will be spread in the water.

A couple SeaRey planes will fly overhead as part of the event.

“They escort us down the river until we get to the Sanibel bridge – they do fly missing man formation,” she said. “All but one of them are vet pilots flying.”

Boat owners are invited to take part in the floating portion. The nautical location for the event is: 26 23′ 870″ N 081 058′ 048″ W. The at-sea ceremony will also be broadcast on VHF Channel 72.

The local event has been designated by the national not-profit Wreaths Across America as the first floating location in the United States in recognition of National Wreaths Across America Day. McCarn and her husband, Pat, began organizing the floating ceremony after learning none were being held.

“We felt we needed to do something about that,” she said.

McCarn reported that about 100 people attend the land portion each year.

She encouraged the public to come out.

“To show their support for the families that have lost a loved one and for the families of those who don’t have a grave to go to,” McCarn said.

For more information, visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.

Tarpon Point Marina is at 6195 Black Marlin Lane.