Living reef honors those 'On Eternal Patrol'
SARASOTA - Nine miles off the Suncoast shore and 45 feet deep is a memorial like no other.
“I know that submariners can get lost, boats can sink people can die and for Eternal Reefs to memorialize them with this living memorial and reef I think it’s really super special," says US Navy veteran Bill Andrea
A reef site, aptly named the On Eternal Patrol Memorial Reef, was dedicated Wednesday afternoon to lost submarines and those in the United States Submarine Force who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
“We’ve lost 65 submarines over the years and more than 4100 of our crew members and officers," says Eternal Reefs CEO George Frankel.
The Exuma Trader equipped with the massive reefs awaited the arrival of the Flying Fish carrying veterans and civilians alike at the ready.
“We placed four memorials for the four submarines that we’ve lost after WWII, we placed a separate memorial honoring those submarines who lost their lives in non-sinking events and we put down the pinnacle reef that identifies the entire reef project and represents the UUSVI; The United States Submarine Veterans Incorporated," says Frankel.
A Tolling of the Boats ceremony paid tribute to those in The Silent Service. Participants released dedication reefs, adorned with a patriotic display of flowers, overboard. Many veterans onboard are seen presenting an unwavering salute. The display of honor is almost simultaneous with the sound of the ocean splash from their tossed reef.
“Everything went according to plan, nobody messed up it was really amazing planning and great ceremony," says Andrea.
Prior to driving off, the boats circled the reef site in a moving show of military honor as red white and blue flowers delicately floated on the shore.