Dream Away Update 20-Jun-2007


We have been back in Texas just over a year now, so I thought I would include an update with the latest WEB page update. I finally got all of the pictures from our cruise of Belize into a WEB page update. As far as cruising goes, not much to report. We are planning to participate in the annual Harvest Moon Regatta this fall. It is one of the largest races on the Gulf Coast. The race is from Galveston, Texas, to Port Aransas, Texas. It is usually an overnight race. We have participated in the regatta several times in the past. We usually do the race for the parties, Dream Away is not a racer, unless the wind is really blowing. I will get an update in the Passages Planned section of the WEB page, hopefully by August.

Our overall plan pretty much remains the same. That is to pay off all debts, do a couple of major projects on the boat, rebuild the cruising "kitty", then go cruising again. Jim will work until June of 2008, and then quit. From June of 2008 until October/ November 2008 Jim will be working on Dream Away, getting her ready for cruising with a departure date in the October/November time frame. Kitty will continue to work up until three or four weeks before departure. Her earnings will top off the cruising "kitty", or help with any unexpected pre-departure expenses.

Overall family health is great. Judy has fully recovered from her problems of a year and a half ago. She is now working as a nanny for a Jewish Orthodox family with six children, and is happy about that. Stacy and Tina are doing very well, no huge changes there. Kitty and I are doing well and are looking forward to get cruising again.

The last two months had a couple of very nice highs and one terrible low. In April we tied a trip to Tampa, Florida, to visit relatives and picking up a generator that I had purchased on EBay. The generator is a Northern Lights M643 just like the one that I have installed on Dream Away. It was complete, but was in parts. The first time the generator was up for auction, the starting price was $100.00, but it had to be picked up in a town just north of Tampa. There were no bids. I told Kitty that if it came back up for auction, I was going to bid on it. Sure enough, the next week it was back up for auction, with a starting price of $50.00. I bid the $50.00, won the item and made arrangements to have it picked up and brought to my nieces house in Tampa. If I got one usable part off of the generator, I would make back my investment. We then made arrangements to drive to Florida, pick up the generator and have a visit with family. We got to see my father, sister, nieces, nephews and assorted significant others. It was a great long weekend. although the drive was long. Just as an aside, I have already got the alternator and starter off of the used generator, and they are good, so I have made back my investment.

The second high was, for me, a lifetime high. As some of you may know I am a former Marine, and my father is as well, he being an Iwo Jima survivor. My father served with the 4th Recon/Scout comapny of the Fourth Marine Division during World War II. He made 18 opposed landings during that war. When the new Museum of the Marine Corps opened on the Marine Corps birthday in 2006, I put together a plan for my father and me to visit. Along with the museum visit, we would get a reservation for the Friday Night Parade at Marine Barracks at 8th & I in Washington, DC. The Friday Night Parade is held every Friday night from the first of May until the end of August. The parade features the Marine Corps Band (The Presidents Own), The Marine Corps Drum and Bugle Corps (The Commandants Own), and the Marine Corps Silent Drill team. I had seen all three groups individually, but never together. My father had never seen any of them. As a historical note - the Marine Barracks at 8th & I in Washington, DC. is the oldest post in the Marine Corps. It also is the site of the official residence of the Commandant of the Marine Corps. The house in which the Commandant resides is the oldest public building in Washington, DC, dating to 1809. When the British burned the capitol during the war of 1812, they did not burn that building. Legend has it that the building was spared out of respect for the Marines - one military entity saluting another, even in combat. Another legend has it that the British just forgot when they retreated back to Baltimore.

The trip was planned and went off almost as planned. We had reservations to attend the first public Friday Night parade of the season, May, 11th. My dad flew from Tampa to Atlanta, and I flew from Houston to Atlanta. From Atlanta we flew together to Dulles airport in Virginia, on Thursday the 10th. On the morning of May 11th we drove up to Arlington, VA, to see the Marine Corps War Memorial. The War Memorial features the statue of the raising of the flag on Mt. Suribachi, during the battle for Iwo Jima. From there we went to Arlington cemetary to see the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknowns. That was quite an experience to witness. We also visited the museum that is on site at the tomb of the unknowns. From Arlington we drove to Washington, DC. I wanted to make sure of the location of the Marine Barracks, and we planned to visit a small Marine Corps museum that was located at the Washington Navy Yard. It turns out the small Marine Corps Museum was closed and all of the exhibits transferred to the new Museum of the Marine Corps, in Quantico, VA. Dad and I spent some time looking around the Navy museum located at the Washington Navy Yard.

After we were asked to leave the Navy museum, (they wanted to close), we decided to go wait in the parking lot where we would be picked up and taken to the Friday Night Parade. We ended up waiting over an hour, but finally the bus arrived. It was a "Greyhound" type bus with Marines written on the side. There were four Marines in Dress Blues to help everyone get on the bus and get to the Marine Barracks. On the bus trip everyone was discussing having to have tickets, and if not, having to wait in the public line, which would be first come/first served after all of the ticketed people arrived. I was very worried as I did not have tickets, even though we did have reservations. When I got off of the bus, I told the Marine who had accompanied us about our problem. He said that it was no problem, and directed me to a Master Gunnery Sergeant, who had a list of all the people that had reservations. Our name was on the list!! The Master Gunny told us where our seats were and what gate to enter.

I pointed out to the Master Gunny that we had requested a wheelchair, and showed it to him on the reservation form. There was no wheelchairs there at the time, but our request got quite a lot of Marines running around. We were directed to the front gate, and asked to wait there for the wheelchair. While waiting, another Marine came out and asked us if we would like some water. We had some water, and while we were drinking the water the Barrack's Sergeant Major stopped by to explain that this was the first Parade night of the season , and that there were still a fews bugs to get worked out. While Dad and I were waiting, we commented to one other about the large number of highly-ranked enlisted men around. There was an occasional corporal or Sergeant, but mostly E6's through E9's.

Finally a Lance-Corporal came out with the wheelchair. My Dad got in the chair, and we were ready to go. The Lance-Corporal said that he would take care of us and that I was to follow him. We went in through the main gate, and had to go through a security check. Security was very heavy that night as the two guests of honor for the first parade were the Commandant of the Marine Corps and the Secretary of Defense. We were not taken to our assigned seats, but we were put right on the edge of the parade ground, next to the VIP bleachers! The Lance-Corporal got us situated and told us that if we needed anything to turn around and call him, as he would be standing behind the bleachers. As it turned out, he was our "assigned Marine", tasked specifically to watch over us.

We had to wait about an hour before the actual Parade started, but it was no problem, since we were both comfortable, the weather was nice and there was a breeze blowing. Once the Parade started it was wonderful. Each portion of the Parade was a sight to behold. I could go on gushing about the Parade and each part of it, but lets just say it made us extremely proud to be a Marines.

After the colors ceremony, the playing of taps and the pass in review, we made ready to leave the Barracks and catch our bus back to the parking area. The Lance-Corporal appeared, grabbed Dad's wheelchair, and told me to follow him. We were taken to the center of the parade deck where there were four other marines and a soldier, all wounded in Iraq. We all shook hands with all of the Marines that led the Parade, and as, it turned out, we were also introduced to the two guests of honor! We met and shook hands with the Barrack's Commander, the Barrack's Executive officer, the Barrack's Sergeant Major, the Parade Leader, the two Company Commanders, the Corporal who was the Inspection "officer" for the Silent Drill Team, and with a few other officers and ranking enlisted men.

When we got to the Commandant of the Marine Corps, he thanked Dad for coming. I told the General that my father was an Iwo Jima Survivor and served with Recon Company of the Fourth Marine Division. The Commandant then got down on his knee to look Dad in the eye, and told him that he was proud to shake his hand, and thanked him for his service. When we moved on to the Secretary of Defense, he did the same thing. He got down on his knee and looked Dad in the eye and thanked him for his service. The secretary of Defense's wife, came up to me and thanked me for bringing my Dad to the Parade. Well, as you can imagine we were overwhelmed, and it was hard to keep the tears out of my eyes. The Lance-Corporal helped us off of the parade deck and out of the Barracks to the waiting bus.

Saturday, we got up, had a great breakfast at the hotel and made our way to the Museum of the Marine Corps. It was not very far away, and only took about 15 minutes to get there. We spent the next two days going through the Museum. My Dad is like me, in that he likes to read all of the signs at each display. The people who are responsible for creating and building of the museum, did a fantastic job. It was very impressive. The "real life" displays were very real looking. The museum is divided into time periods of Marine History. The largest displays are for the four most recent wars, WW I, WW II, Korea, and our favorite, Viet Nam.

I will just bore you with one or two of the displays, in the WW II area. The one on the Marshall Islands was wonderful, and of course very meaningful to my Dad as he had landed on Eniwetok, Kwajalien, then Tinian and Saipan. The Iwo Jima display was a heart-rendering one also. They have the second flag that was raised on Mt. Suribachi on display. My Dad, of course, was pleased to see the flag again. Fronting the flag display is a half-round wall that has a collar emblem for each Marine, Sailor, and Coast Guardsmen who lost his life on Iwo Jima. To see over seven thousand collar emblems on that wall, really brought the sacrifices that were made right into your face. On Sunday we went back to the Museum, and back to the Iwo Jima display to take some pictures of my Dad at the display. My camera had quit working on Saturday. It was the memory stick, so I had purchased a new one on Saturday night. Anyway, one of the volunteers was at the flag display to make sure that no one used a flash to take pictures. It was Mother's Day, and slow, so we started talking to the volunteer. He was a retired Marine and working as a guide/volunteer at the Museum. He started asking my Dad about what he did at Iwo. Dad said that every night, Recon teams would go out in front of the Marine lines and scout the Japanese pillboxes and strong points. They would come back into the lines and report the locations for the next day's operations. They did this quite often, and my Dad said the hardest part was getting back into the Marine lines because they were so afraid that a jumpy Marine would open fire and start a fire fight.

The next day, Monday, we again had breakfast in the hotel. We checked out of the hotel and drove back to Dulles airfield. The Smithsonian has opened another Air and Space museum near the Dulles airport, so Dad and I put that on our list of places to see the next time we go to DC. Dad and I flew to Atlanta together. Once at Hartsfield, I made sure that Dad got on the plane to Tampa, and I headed back to Houston.

The terrible low that I mentioned earlier happened about three weeks ago. It was near the end of May when my step-mother, Phyllis, called and told me that my Dad was in the hospital. Dad was suffering from bad headaches and a neck ache. Many tests were performed on him, including MRIs, MRAs, CAT scans, and a spinal tap. It was finally diagnosed as a small brain aneurysm. Kitty and I flew from Houston to Tampa late on the 29th of May. Pop seemed to be improving, and when he was not heavily sedated, he could recognize us, and knew who we were. He had a breathing tube inserted, so he was not able to talk to us.

Because the diagnosis was a brain aneurysm, and the hospital in which he was staying did not have the resources to deal with it, he had to be transferred to Tampa General Hospital (TGH) so a brain angiogram could be performed. He had to wait two days for a bed to open up in the TGH's Neuro ICU, before he could be transferred. On Friday morning, the first of June, a bed opened up, and he was transferred to TGH. He did not survive the move. During the transit he had a massive brain aneurysm, that herniated the brain. When he got to TGH, he had no neurological reactions. He was sent in for an immediate brain cat scan, the results of which confirmed the doctors' diagnosis. He was tested several times during the morning, but by mid-afternoon, it was firmly established that he was brain dead. All the doctors and surgeons with whom we talked were unanimous on the point that Dad's body could live on, but his brain was gone, and that his brain would never recover.

Around three in the afternoon, we decided to remove life support, and let Dad pass away peacefully. The staff at TGH said that the body could live for two or three more days, without life support, so we decided to go home and rest. The hospital said they would apprise us of any changes. When I left the hospital around 1930 Friday night, they had removed all of the life support. When I went in to say my goodbyes, he was resting very comfortably. They had the TV on in his room, and it looked as if he had just dozed off while watching TV.

The hospital called the next morning, Saturday, around 0400 to tell us that Dad had passed away, and to assure us that it was peaceful and painless. As expected, he had never regained consciousness.

There was a Memorial service for Dad on the morning of June 5th, at the funeral home in Tampa. It was beautiful, and well-attended. It was heartwarming to talk with everyone, and know how much he was loved and respected. He will indeed be missed in his community. Dad's one wish was that he be buried at the Florida National Cemetery at Bushnell, about 60 miles north of Tampa, and that was done. It was a moving ceremony, very military, with full honors, a Marine Corps Honor Guard, and rifle salute.

Pop was survived by his second wife Phyliss; myself (and Kitty); my sister, Kenean; and his four stepchildren, Cynthia, William, Kieth, and Rick. He had seven grandchildren, and six great grandchildren. He was a wonderful man, a faithful father and a true patriot

With all that has happened in the last two months, Kitty and I are giving ourselves a week off. Our birthdays are this week, and it is also a week off for me. We are going to take Dream Away down to Offatt's bayou in Galveston and hang out on the anchor for about six days. I will still be doing some boat projects and some computer work, and Kitty will still have her job to do, but we will be able to kick back and relax - cocktails in the cockpit, in the evenings . We have some good friends that are going to join us on their boat, so we will have some good social times also. There may even be some adult beverages involved. When we get back from this short cruise, I will be starting on boat projects. Have to get ready for the big race!

Will keep you updated as time goes on and we get closer to getting cruising again



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