Morro Bay Maritime Museum: After 20-Plus Years A Dream Becomes Reality

Editor’s Note: This was published in Biz Matters September 26-27, a product of Simply Clear Marketing & Media. Exciting for this reporter to be part of the later developments of this project. It remains open free to the public on Saturdays and additional days as volunteers are developed to be there. It is definitely worth the stop-by to see for the entire family. 

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Just one of the many models showcasing the Maritime History of the Central Coast. This one is a replica of the Dive Boat owned by Harold Biaggini created by master modeler Ken Foran, now a resident of Morro Bay and member of the Morro Bay Maritime Museum. 


Meandering northwest towards Morro Rock in Morro Bay, visitors are attracted by the protruding nose of a submarine just south of the power plant stacks. A stop to take a photo of the DSRV Avalon becomes a must. They discover three historic vessels on display at California’s newest museum, the Morro Bay Maritime Museum.

Saturday, September 29 the public was invited to a grand opening of MBMM’s first interpretive center at 1215 Embarcadero. Saturdays are now open with free admission at least through December 31 to thank and celebrate 25 years of visitor and community support as the concept developed from dream to opening.

The festivities include proclamations from Morro Bay’s Vice-Mayor Marlys McPherson and San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Bruce Gibson. Local Historian and Tribune’s Times By columnist Dan Krieger will offer anecdotes about SLO County’s maritime history, the Salinan Tribe will conduct a blessing of the grounds and Jenna & the Funky Fellows will entertain before the public is invited to tour the building’s interpretive displays.

The following weekend PG&E’s John Lindsey launched a full-sized weather balloon to celebrate the sponsored weather station, one of the interior displays. Additional Central Coast’s social and maritime history displays include Native American roots, the early years of merchant shipping, World War II’s Montebello incident off the coast of Cambria, plus the commercial fishing, abalone diving and recreational industries.

 Memorial bricks are dedicated to fisherman, area families and organizations and an anchor monument honors Bertha and Dean Tyler and the 43 charter members that helped fund MBMM.    

Looking back long-time president of the board Larry Newland shared how it all started. “It’s 1988 and I am sitting in my kayak alongside my friend Brent Roberts who is sitting in his kayak at Coleman Beach on the Morro Bay waterfront. Brent is telling me about his dream for a maritime museum for the town. He mentions all the history of the fishing industry, the abalone divers, and even the Navy.

 “We need to preserve that and have it available for the public,” he says. As we paddle out into the bay I look back at the waterfront and in my mind’s eye I can see the past; fishing vessels tied up to the docks, divers working in the rich waters, and even that time during World War II when Morro Bay became a Navy town.  “Yes, I think, we need a Morro Bay maritime museum.”

 Thus, began the Central Coast Maritime Museum Association (dba: Morro Bay Maritime Museum). “Early members have worked over the years to bring to life Brent’s dream. Artifacts and photos were displayed during every Harbor Festival.”

The mission statement of the Central Coast Maritime Museum Association is to provide an easily accessible educational venue for maritime history, science and technology. “CCMMA brought the Endeavour, a magnificent tall ship replica from Australia, to Morro Bay. We were the first to arrange for these sailing replicas to come here and because of that hundreds of school children as well as adults had the opportunity to learn about maritime history.” In 2015 MBMM hosted San Diego’s Maritime Museum’s maiden voyage of Cabrillo’s San Salvador. Each visit more than 10,000 toured with volunteers acting as tour guides and docents. “The public obviously has a real interest in the culture of times past.”

The tugboat Alma was one of the first donated in 1995 by the Kelsey family, owners of Sylvester’s Tug Service. It was built in 1927 in San Francisco and is typical of the small wooden tugs that worked in harbors along the west coast during the first half of the 20th century.

“When World War II was thrust upon this country, vessels that plied the coastal waters were anxious about possible attacks from Japanese submarines. Such an occurrence happened on December 23, 1941 when the Union Oil tanker Montebello was hit by a Japanese torpedo and sunk off the coast of Cambria. The Alma was anchored off Cayucos and upon hearing explosions went to investigate and found survivors from the tanker in lifeboats. They rescued 22 men from those boats.”

 Newland indicated that a grant from the Hind Foundation provided the funding to restore the ALMA. Two additional vessels being restored are part of the fleet to be displayed. A locally crafted small submarine and the Spindrift, built in 1933, is the only surviving Monterey style boat used from the 1920s through the 1960s.

 “Once the city (Morro Bay) was on board momentum began to fast-track,” Newland commented. A slice of the power plant parking lot was designated and the fleet moved to their permanent location 1215 Embarcadero in 2015. Also on display is a 30-foot Coast Guard Surf Rescue vessel and the 50-foot Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle Avalon.  Many people don’t realize that Morro Bay was a naval station during World War II, so obtaining a vessel like the Avalon for the museum fits our purpose.”

 On loan from the U.S. Navy the Avalon arrived in Morro Bay in June of 2012. “It is one of only two rescue submarines built for the Navy and was designed to rescue crews of downed submarines. It was used for research and conducted training with Naval operations around the world. More than $10,000 was raised to obtain the vessel and bring it here. Many volunteers were involved in the process including Congressperson Lois Capps and Morro Bay mayor Bill Yates.”

“Brent Roberts passed away in 2005, but I am sure he is watching the progress of the Morro Bay Maritime Museum,” concluded Newland.


Never Too Old to Paddleboard – Morro Bayan Cheryl Bariel Learned at Age-72.

Editor’s Note: This article was published in the “Biz Matters” section of publications printed by Simply Clear Marketing & Media in 2018. If you haven’t met Sandi Twist, you’ll enjoy her philosophy to teach anyone their style of paddle boarding on Morro Bay In Central California. Sandi is also Vice-President of the Board of the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce and Ken Twist is on the board of the Morro Bay Maritime Museum. 


Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.” Living on the Central Coast offers abundant opportunities to live playfully – and even work playfully. Case in point: Cheryl Bariel never intended to inspire her SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard) friends, but she did, including her instructor, Sandi Twist, co-owner with husband Ken of The Paddleboard Company of Morro Bay.


In 2017 Cheryl Bariel relocated from Santa Rosa. She already practiced a disciplined routine to maintain a healthier lifestyle after successfully battling uterine cancer in 2014. Morro Bay offered her many scenic areas for daily walking, but she wanted more. I’m 72 years old and have learned my limits, but overcoming cancer gave me confidence to believe I could try anything,” she said.

Fellow paddler Bert Tibbitts said, “I met Cheryl when we were both taking “SUP Works,” an introductory paddleboarding class conducted by The Paddleboard Co. in conjunction with Fitness Works of Morro Bay.  After we had taken only a few sessions, Cheryl and I were talking about a paddleboard race planned in Morro Bay and she said, ‘I am going to do that.’ I said ‘Whaaat…the race is several miles long and only a few weeks off.’  She entered the race and completed the course.  And now, once again she displays her amazing attitude when she took on another challenge paddling every day for 31 days.”


“I wanted more lessons. I like figuring things out – how to overcome obstacles,” Bariel said. “There was so much to remember. I was determined to become self-sufficient at it.” She decided to commit to seven days to “get my system down.” When she finished seven she added another seven, then fourteen consecutive days. She’d still be racking up the days beyond the 31 if her doctor hadn’t advised she stay out of the water after an unrelated hand injury. “It Is best to take a lesson – at least Sandi’s (Twist) Quick Tips to learn about the tides, the wind, how to load and unload the board.”

Twist added, “It’s a process…and often a show-stopper for some thinking it is too much work, too hard to handle. There are few health or physical excuses that can’t be modified by one of our company’s certified trainers and yet I always hear I’m too old, not healthy enough, bad knees, hips — THERE IS NO AGE LIMIT. Cheryl is such an example at 72.” One qualifier she says, “For safety reasons, you must be under 280lbs.”

“It’s best to go out with a buddy,” advised Bariel. “When I’d been paddling about three months — eight days into my personal challenge, a friend couldn’t make it, so I decided to test it out by myself. My confidence was high. I thought — I’m prepared. I’ve learned what to do to be comfortable with what I know and what’s around me…I just need to do it.

“I was out by Bayside (Restaurant) when the fog rolled in. I couldn’t see Morro Rock then I couldn’t see the Embarcadero. I got nervous when I couldn’t see the boats around me. The tides changed and luckily took me near Tidelands Park. I was able to find a place to get out and walked the board back to the Embarcadero until the fog lifted then I got back in and finished my paddle.” She noted it was her wake-up call to “learn your escape routes and always carry a phone.”

About Day 14 she met another challenge — loading her equipment by herself after a paddle. Once she mastered the tricky maneuver of loading and unloading, she now enjoys helping others.

Bariel, Twist and Tibbetts are regular members of the Tribe, a SUP social group that paddles Thursday mornings from the dock behind The Paddleboard Company. Several paddlers meet up on the bay from various launch points. Twist said, “It started slowly last winter. Many had learned to paddle then purchased boards over the winter. Anyone can come. They don’t have to be in a class or have taken a class from our company. The only criteria is that they must already know how to paddle.”

What’s the next challenge for Bariel? She announced to an amazed Twist she planned to enter the Rock to Pier Paddle. Twist explained, “We paddle along-side the runners who run the beach route. You must be an experienced paddler since we go outside the bay.” She said the paddlers usually get to Cayucos for all the festivities about the time as the runners. For more information and to register at


The Paddleboard Company owners, Ken and Sandi Twist met at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She had visited Morro Bay while attending Cal Poly Pomona studying engineering. Visiting her sister university by the bay, she had to wonder why she was in Pomona. “Once I transferred and met my husband it was all history. We have a passion for the sport and we personally love doing it. Paddling Morro Bay is always fun, always challenging, always a new experience — a mystery with constant change — a puzzle to manage. The Paddleboard Company is our way of sharing it.”


The Paddle Board Company is located at 575 Embarcadero in Morro Bay and offers a variety of private or group lessons by certified trainers; scheduled water activities, including fitness programs and Paddleboard Yoga, plus high quality paddleboards for sale, rent or even loan to test out during sessions.

Maybe a New Year’s Resolution? If you live on the Central Coast, why not try paddle boarding with Sandi Twist? Or if you are visiting, make it a must-do on your list while in Morro Bay. Time or age is not an issue!!














Merry Christmas Len & Midge: Keep Sailing on Morro Bay


Living the dream is not the same as living on easy street. Just ask Chef Leonard and Midge Gentieu, owners of Morro Bay’s luxury dinner cruise yacht, the Papagallo II. “From ten-years-old I wanted a boat. We were seven kids and couldn’t afford a rowboat. My dad said if I didn’t drink or smoke until I was 18 he’d buy me a boat. I didn’t, but he died when I was 14.”

Gentieu’s other dream to become a chef was not favored by his father. “But he gave me words I always try to live by whatever I do in life – he said ‘If you want to be a cook then be a cook, but be the best cook.’”


Documented in his autobiography Chasing the Heat 50 Years & a Million Meals, Gentieu graduated with honors from New York’s Culinary Institute of America in an era when you had to earn your stripes as a chef. He literally earned those stripes while serving two three-star generals in the U.S. Army. During his career, he has also owned and operated five restaurants and has been an executive chef for restaurants, resorts and clubs throughout California.

He models “the guy that does the work gets the knowledge” and believes the restaurant business was his perfect apprenticeship to survive and thrive for ten years navigating guests circumventing Morro Bay. Then there are the times he must travel outside the bay for regular U.S. Coast Guard and Morro Bay Harbor Patrol requirements.


At age 56, Gentieu found his “boat” while working as executive chef at Linn’s Restaurant in Cambria.  During time away from the kitchen, he’d park dockside in Morro Bay and plan – or dream – about his future business. “I’m a fan of motivational books like Zig Zigler’s. I’d see my yacht docked instead of three fishing boats. I started saving. Midge and I would plan travel around checking out yachts for sale. When I found the Papagallo, the broker asked me what I was moving up from. He was not impressed when I said a kayak, but the owner Ernie Gabiati, the founder of Gallo Salame, liked that I wouldn’t change the name and we wanted to offer quality entertainment on board. Midge was not too excited, but sometimes you have to believe and take that calculated risk.”

Once sailing their new yacht on San Francisco Bay Midge said, “I could get used to this,” but the 19-hour cruise to Morro Bay made them question their sanity.images

Along with several other chapters of challenges and successes, their first cruise home to Morro Bay is one of 24 “day(s) from hell” chapters he recounts in his debut book – readable as if audible with him standing behind his fully stocked bar serving a favorite Central Coast wine and musing about the life and times of Chef Leonard Gentieu, a life well lived.

What’s next? Gentieu is visualizing a B&B yacht with several berths offering the good life with cuisine on deck viewing another somewhere along the Pacific Coast.

Meanwhile, small group charters are available on the Papagallo II.  Contact or call (805) 771-9916. You’ll enjoy booking with Midge and cruising with the Gentieus.


Editor’s Note: That being me!! If you haven’t travel with Len and Midge, you are missing a treat. Cruising Morro Bay, hearing a Chef Len tale — not tall tale, but adventures with Chef Len — is worth traveling to Morro Bay, CA. And besides, he and Midge are good people, good neighbors and active citizens making a difference in their community.

Thanks for your ideas, insight and support of the newly opened Morro Bay Maritime Museum — located at 1210 Embarcadero almost directly across the bay boulevard from where the Papagallo II is docked.

This is reprinted from the San Luis Obispo By the Bay Monday column featuring people and activities of Morro Bay, Cayucos and Los Osos, CA in San Luis Obispo County along the Pacific Ocean Coastline written for years by Judy Salamacha.



AAUW Garden Tour Sends Girls to Explore Science Careers

TechTrek2017From left to
Theona Hadjiyane, Reagen Garcia, Leona Moylan, Fiona Stevens, Claire Haslett, and Anika Velasquez.
Note: This was the 2017 class of AAUW Tech Trek Summer Camp Teens. i post now because the Central Coast members of AAUW (American Association of University Women) will be looking for gardens to showcase in the spring to earn the funds to send future Teens to Camp. This was published in The Bay News, Morro Bay and Coast News, South County, San Luis Obispo and archived at

It is never too late – or too early — to invest in our youth. For example, annually the Morro Bay-based American Association of University Women (AAUW) produces a Garden Tour. For a mere $15 ticket five home owners in Morro Bay, Cayucos and Los Osos open their uniquely designed gardens offering tips for planting, pruning and general landscaping.

The event takes place on a Sunday typically in April. It is self-guided gleaning gardening tips and ideas knowing your investment has helped invest in the future of young women entering eight grade. Proceeds help fund scholarships to attend Tech Trek, a week-long immersion summer camp focused on science, technology, engineering and math at the University of California at Santa Barbara. The program, developed in 1998 by California AAUW member Mary Wolback, has consistently proven to open future goals and dreams  inspiring students with possibilities never considered possible. It is documented Tech Trek alumnae surpass the national average in most advanced math and science courses.

During the summer of 2017, four young women from Los Osos Middle School, Leona Moylan, Fiona Stevens, Claire Haslett and Anika Velasquez passed an extensive qualification process that included an application, an essay, and a personal interview.  Additionally, AAUW coordinated attendance at camp for Theona Hadjiyane and Reagan Garcia funded by the Cayucos Lioness Club. The young scientists’ interests ranged from the search for a cure for Type 1 Diabetes to renewable energy sources and filtration systems to provide potable drinking water.

Notes of appreciation and a presentation at a Fall AAUW general meeting followed their Tech Trek Camp experience. After six months into their final year at middle school I asked the question, “Did summer camp continue to influence your education – and goals for your potential future careers?”

Theona Hadjiyane explained, “I have done a little better in my math and science classes since attending Tech Trek…my attitude has not changed because I have always liked learning new things in school and I will always want to be a teacher. Camp reinforced my plans for the future and reminded me of the great things I will do.”

“The highlight of camp for me was definitely the social aspect,” Anika Velasquez said. “There were so many girls and they were all wonderful people. I remember one night in our dorm all of our girls gathered around my roommate’s bed and I did impressions for them. The smiles on these amazingly intelligent girls’ faces and hearing them laughing was the best part of my trip.” Anika also enjoyed the boat trip. “It’s awesome that we get to experience something that is specific to our area and a big part of the Central Coast.”

”I enjoy math very much,” added Reagan Garcia, “but if it hadn’t been for my math teacher, I probably wouldn’t have ever even known what Tech Trek was.  After hearing about the camp, I decided to apply because I knew I wanted to go to college and wanted to find inspiration from other women who are in STEM careers.”

“The biggest surprise was that all the girls there had huge dreams and were all ready to chase them!” said Claire Haslett. “My dreams to become an endocrinologist have become more real. I absolutely love math and science, but this camp taught me to love it even more. My dreams for medical school will come true!”

Fiona Stevens first heard about Tech Trek from her older sister, Natalie, who constantly “…talked about (it) for two months.” Fiona was interested in STEM courses. Aerospace Engineering was her favorite. “We spent hours each day learning and doing fun activities, like making hot air balloons, rockets out of liter bottles, and making paper airplanes…definitely the best part of my core class was learning about rockets…no lift, a little bit of drag, weight is going down, and thrust is going up.” She determined, “I have always enjoyed attending school, but I never really thought about my future career until Tech Trek. I was introduced to many inspiring women who have careers in science and math, that have pushed me to believe in myself and have directed me towards some future careers, like being a Biomedical Engineer, or an Electrical Engineer.”

Anika has applied everything she learned and improved her study habits. She summed it up for all involved. “Tech Trek taught me that even though I am a girl, I can achieve anything I set my mind to, which helped reinforce my plans for college and life’s career by planning out high school, and getting me involved in my interests, such as space, medicine, and the ocean.”

Indeed, worth a $15 investment enjoying a Sunday afternoon Central Coast Garden Party. Tickets are available after April 1 each year at Volumes of Pleasure Bookstore, Coalesce Bookstore, and Farm Supply in San Luis Obispo or from any AAUW Morro Bay Branch member. Missed it this year? Check it out next April. Of course, want to invest more to help a girl find her career at Tech Trek? You can also underwrite the cost of a girl to attend camp so AAUW can send a larger class to Santa Barbara from the Central Coast. For more information,













Trading One Paradise for Another

What drives folks to move to the Central Coast? The slower, but active lifestyle? The Mediterranean climate? The ease of making friends in a smaller community where one can make an impact by just getting involved? Living near the beach for many means living in paradise, so what would make one trade it away?

ChablisMorroBayViewRick and Claire Grantham say they will miss Morro Bay, but they have decided to exchange one paradise for another – Paulsbo, Washington. “We found a little piece of heaven,” said Rick as he pulled out the pictures of their new dream home. He was particularly impressed with the mini-theater room perfect for watching movies with the grandkids. Indeed, being closer to their son, Greg, and daughter, Jennie, was the motivator to plan a move in January. While their current view is the Pacific Ocean, he concluded, “Our view will be the Hood Canal.” He pointed to a picture he caught of submarines sailing by with a Navy escort.

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Not this submarine which is actually featured in the new interpretive center for the Morro Bay Maritime Museum, but Rick spied an escort!!

Recovering from a second back surgery, Claire explained since she retired in 2015 they’ve had wonderful times traveling to various places in the United States in their motorhome, but this past year was tough. They lost close family members and had personal health issues. “During one of our visits with son Greg, he pulled me aside and said, ‘Mom, I’ll always take care of you.’ That’s when Rick and I got serious and realized we wanted to live closer to children and grandchildren.” They have another son in Oceanside, but knew they could enjoy motorhome visits south to Morro Bay, Oceanside and, of course, occasional — maybe even regular — L.A. Rams games.

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Rick in his RAM Room. He’s been attending and saving RAM collectibles since the team began. When they returned to LA he was first to purchase season

In 1992 the Granthams were newlyweds when Rick accepted a Senior Medical Tech position at the California Men’s Colony (CMC). They were relocated from Southern California to San Luis Obispo. Claire was hired as Nursing Director for a new rehabilitation unit at Sierra Vista where she ultimately would lead the hospital’s Infectious Prevention program for seventeen years. Rick would enjoy volunteerism and community service after he retired from CMC in 1995.

When they settled into Morro Bay, they didn’t know a soul, but by getting involved each have made lifelong friends. And since they’ve done it once before, getting involved in Paulsbo community life is their plan. They know their kids are excited they are moving closer, but also know they will be busy with their own lives.

Claire says the friends she’ll miss are like a patchwork quilt coming from a variety of activities they have been involved in. She served on the SLO County Community Health Commission and Emergency Medical Corps, but it was a quilting class taught by Becky Rogers at The Cotton Ball that linked her with many of the friends she still enjoys today. “I will miss my friends, warm weather, and the only home we’ve shared as a couple,” she said. “But we still have our water view and a mountain view of Mount Olympus.”

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Greg was a Sophomore at Morro Bay High School when they first moved. He played several sports so they volunteered to work shifts at the snack-bar where they met a different set of friends. Although they actively participated together forming the Morro Bay Police Volunteers, Rick credits Claire for most of the organizing especially when former Chief Joe Loven retired and dubbed the Granthams as the new leaders for the annual Thanksgiving Community Dinner. They built a crew that cooked and served the dinner – some joining them annually for the fourteen years they chaired the event with annual support from Carla Wixom.

They would open their home for events like Caroling Cops and several Morro Bay Rotary functions. Rick was president of Morro Bay Rotary 2002-2003, but always remained active and intends to join a club in Washington. They also shared interests in San Luis Obispo County Veterans Outreach and Combat Services – he as a Vietnam Veteran and she from her healthcare interests.

Claire loved her job at Sierra Vista. It allowed her to get out into the community giving flu shots and providing information about preventable diseases. But she also became a sought-after friend, a medical advocate, for many as issues that would trigger questions and hospital visits.

Rick stated his “biggest honor” was serving on the Morro Bay City Council. “I would check in every day with every department and developed great relationships.” He was proud the Harbor Walk and the Morro Bay Blvd. Traffic Circle were completed during his two terms.

And not only because Washington is where his kids grew up, but Rick also recalls his first exposure to Washington was in Kingston, which is nearby Paulsbo. He was stationed there as a military medic. “It was a small town with only about 100 in our unit. In a way, it feels like we are moving back home.”

Thanks, Rick and Claire, for your military, law enforcement, government, community and career nursing services. Morro Bay will miss you, too.


Thank You Thank You Thank You: Central Coast Honor Flight Says It For Us!

Image 12-12-18 at 10.21 AMMajor Jim Murphy of Los Osos retired from the United States Marine Corp after 20 years of service, including tours in Korea and Vietnam. He’d visited Veteran’s memorials in Washington, D.C. several times before, but last June his 3-day tour with 49 other Honor Flight Central Coast California Veterans and Guardians was different. In his never-hold-back style, he remarked to members of a sponsoring group, the Rotary Club of Morro Bay, “Any Veteran who doesn’t sign-up and go is a darn fool.”

Tony Weizneiwski of Cayucos served in Japan with the 97th Army Anti-Aircraft Artillery during World War II. He met his new friend “Murph” on the same June tour and agreed. “It was very emotional,” he said. “Everywhere we went there were people of all ages thanking us.”

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Honor Flight board member Janice House explained, “Our heroes are transported to D.C. three times a year – two in the fall and one in the spring. We want to make sure every Veteran has the chance to visit their memorial. Top priority is given to the senior Veterans, World War II survivors, and other Veterans who may be suffering from a terminal illness.”

The first Honor Flight took place in May, 2005 with six small planes taking twelve World War II Veterans from Springfield, OH to Washington. The list quickly mushroomed to warrant expanding to commercial airlines. American Airlines stepped up as corporate sponsor and community partners donated to make the trips happen for more Veterans. The founding organization, Honor Flight Network, approved a Central Coast California regional hub to serve San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties. The first flight took off May 13, 2014.

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House added, “We’re scheduling Korean War and WWII Veterans now. But it is important for everyone to get on the list. Things happen with schedules — why a Veteran might not be able to attend so we’ll call someone else on the list to take their place.”

“My most vivid memories will be greetings everywhere we landed,” said Murphy. “There were cheers, flags, thank you signs, and sincere, interested questions by children and their teachers. Two monuments stood out for me this time – the Navy monument and Fort McHenry in Baltimore. My guardian — although I didn’t need one — was my red-headed daughter, Molly. Coming home I’ll treasure the coin Under-Sheriff Tim Olivas gave each of us when we landed at the San Luis Obispo Airport about 10:30 p.m.“

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Weizneiwski’s guardian was his brother. “I was most impressed with the Korean Wall that had fresh flowers on display every day. They were brought by Korean-Americans living in the DC area.” It is notable that his younger brother by 15 years served in Korea and Weizneiwski still brings his wife flowers from his garden daily.

Honor Flight requires a guardian accompany the Veteran and they don’t have to be family. House explained, “They need to sign-up, time flexibility helps, be in good health — and strong enough to push the Veteran in a wheelchair. We do a lot of walking. The guardians pay their own way of $1,500. The Veterans are fully funded.”

Morro Bay Rotarian Jack Keely encouraged others to also become guardians. His fondest memory was meeting with a school group. “The teacher introduced us by saying to her class ‘Meet the people who saved the world.’”

The group always stays together as a unit. There is a meet-up lunch before the tour and after realizing the bonding that is created during the trip, a post-reunion was added to the festivities hosted by Tolo Winery of Paso Robles.  Both Murphy and Weizneiwski were particularly stunned by the water-bridge created by the fire department as the plane went airborne.

Murphy said, “First we went to Arlington to pay respects at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. After his duty, the soldier came over and told us about his responsibilities.” Fort McHenry was also memorable. “They played our National Anthem inspired there by Francis Scott Key (Battle of Baltimore, War of 1812). As it played a curtain opened to view Fort McHenry across the bay.”

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The Veteran duo agreed their time together allowed them a chance to reminisce the past while building new friendships with similar life experiences. Why it was asked does it seem PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) happens to younger Veterans.

Murphy answered, “I have taught servicemen all the ‘dirty tricks’ of war and I’ve been told by younger men what I taught them saved their lives. I was never spit upon when I returned home. I was offered the chance to transition back into regular society.”

On a lighter note, he directed the conversation back to the benefits of Honor Flight. “You’re crazy not to go. You always get prime parking! People of all ages offer you a thank you for your service and all I had to buy was the drinks I ordered from a bar.”