On Sunday, April 14th, ten actives in the chapter drove down to Santa Cruz for the day to welcome the veterans participating in Operation Surf. While I didn’t quite know what to expect, everyone was still very excited and one brother, Matthew McGlynn, even said he was “nervous”. The veterans participating in Operation Surf have all been wounded during their service and the organization was established to help these brave men and women begin the healing process through the beauty of surfing.
The veterans were escorted to the clinic by a brigade of police cars and motorcycles, and a biker club comprised of veterans. It reminded me of a 4th of July parade and held the same ecstatic atmosphere. As the limo carrying the veterans pulled into the Dream Inn we, as a part of the color guard, stood at attention and then watched as the veterans got out of the limo.
About a half an hour before the limo arrived, a veteran that was a part of the color guard approached me and said something that I didn’t understand until I saw the Op Surf vets get out of the limo. The man said to me, “This means a lot to your peers for you guys up at UC Berkeley to come down.” This did not make sense to me at the time because when I thought of soldiers fighting over seas I thought of men; the biggest, the baddest, and the bravest.
But I soon realized as I watched the vets come out of the limousine that the vet who spoke to me earlier was right, these men were my peers. The veterans who unloaded from the limousine were all my age, except instead of taking the college route like myself, they went into the military to serve their country. The only other difference was that when these men woke up in the morning they had to live with the reality of not having arms or not having legs. This was a very emotional moment for me and the other brothers that were present.
Following the procession we were able to meet all the veterans and thank them for their service and try to inspire confidence as they endeavored into the world of surfing.
I wanted to report this because it was such an amazing day and an amazing experience and I am very excited that our chapter has decided to work with this organization. We will be able to see exactly where our money goes, which is bringing veterans to these week long surf clinics so that they may begin their long healing process.
I urge you to check out an awesome video that was made about the organization that I believe does not give justice to the organization, but still provides amazing insight towards its goal. http://vimeo.com/63967128.
Matthew John Jacinto