By the Bay

Remembering veterans lost at sea

judysalamacha@gmail.comMay 26, 2013 

Hooah! Dedication Day is here.

For the record: Memorial Day, May 27, 2013 — The Cayucos Lost at Sea Memorial will be dedicated today at 2 p.m. at the Cayucos Memorial Veterans Hall as the permanent monument for all those lost at sea. At 3 p.m., the 2013 Lost at Sea Ceremony will commence, including the traditional walk to the end of Cayucos Pier.

Roll Call! Let the 2012 permanent committee stand tall and be recognized: U.S. Navy veterans Bill Houston, Tom Madsen, Ron Janney, Jim Scott and John Lindsey; U.S. Air Force veterans Donna Archer and Dan Costley, who also represent Cayucos and Morro Bay Rotary; Army Veteran Dan Hathcock, who represents the Military Order of the World Wars; Chuck Stoll, who represents the Cayucos Lions; and Trudy O’Brien, who carries the rose-laden memorial wreath for the Morro Bay Commercial Fishermen’s Organization.

Sealed for the record books: In 2000, Joe Eyraud, “Atascadero Joe,” called Bill Benica at Bill’s radio talk show and planted the idea for a memorial ceremony for those lost at sea. Joe’s promise, “I’m the thinker, you’re the doers.” Bill and Nancy Benica began a series of meetings with Joe, Dave Congalton, and Pastor Doug Carroll to plan a Lost at Sea Ceremony. They met at Café Roma, where Gus’ patio became the fundraising site. One event was scheduled for Oct. 21, the anniversary of Admiral Horatio Nelsen’s victory in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. In 2001, the planners diverted the funds raised to help the victims in New York City after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11.

In 2002, the first Lost at Sea Ceremony was held on Memorial Day at Cayucos Pier Plaza. Joining the original planners were Madsen of KVEC-Radio and CDR Houston, a retired Navy Chaplain. Benica, a Navy Vietnam War Veteran, served as master of ceremonies until 2009. Madsen then took over. Soon after the first ceremony Pastor Doug Carroll obtained a vintage World War II bell, which has been used in the ceremonies since.

Planning began for a permanent memorial site to be positioned on Cayucos Pier. Morro Bay architect Stan House designed the monument. Plans were accepted, but funds and final decisions were put on hold after 2005.

Established in 2012, the permanent committee pushed forward with final plans and fundraising by February. They sold 12 opportunities to ride in a C47-DC3 housed at the Estrella Warbird Museum of Paso Robles during the Missing Many Fly-by that will occur during today’s ceremony.

The memorial is an etched granite obelisk inscribed, “Dedicated to those Lost at Sea” beneath a bell enclosed by a laurel wreath. Pastor Doug’s bell will be used during the ceremony forevermore.

Indeed, hooah!

Judy Salamacha's column is special to The Tribune. Reach her at judysalamacha@gmail.com or 801-1422.

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