Wounded Veterans’ Day on the Bay

Here’s a heartwarming story we received from the founder of the Sentinels of Freedom Scholarship Foundation, an organization that provides life-changing opportunities for men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces who have suffered severe injuries…

As the sun came up very early over the San Francisco Bay last Saturday morning a sleek 113-foot Sailing Schooner named Eros quietly slipped her moorings and raised her sails once again carrying a National Treasure aboard her historic decks.

From left to right: Jason Deitch, Doug Conner, Mike Conklin (Founder), Brian Vargas

Five severely wounded members of our Armed Forces enjoyed the day for some much needed R&R aboard Eros, one of the ‘Little Ships of Dunkirk’, who was used decades before to rescue the wounded and injured from the beaches of Dunkirk as Hitler’s army smashed through France in early days of World War II.

On this day, Eros had aboard her decks a new generation of injured veterans. There was Navy Ryan Sykes injured in Afganistan suffering a traumatic brain injury, United States Marine Brian Vargas who suffered a gunshot to the face, U.S. Army Ranger Dominic Annechuci who suffered a gunshot to the head just a few months ago, U.S. Army Doug Connor and U.S. Army Ranger Jason Deitch with equal unseen and hidden injuries.  

Sentinels of Freedom 3
Dominic Annechuci, 75th Ranger, 1st Battalion, with wife Melanie. Dominic is still in rehab at the Palo Alto Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center.

In perspective, to be able to spend the day sailing and talking and more importantly, listening to them tell about how far each had traveled in their journeys of selfless service to our nation, sustaining severe wounds, long rehabilitations, and their individual plans and progress towards achieving success in their careers was inspiring. The owners and skippers of Eros, Bill and Grace Bodle,

Sentinels of Freedom 2
Grace and Bill Bodle, owners of EROS

who graciously provided Eros for the trip, masterfully piloted Eros from Point Richmond around Treasure Island underneath the Bay Bridge past Admiral Chester Nimitz’s former home, down the waterfront of historic San Francisco, passing the Golden Gate Bridge back around Angel Island to her home port of Sugar Dock in Richmond Harbor for a great day of sightseeing.

Mike Conklin
Chairman, Sentinels of Freedom Scholarship Foundation

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