Memorial Message from the Prez
Updated: Jun 6
"Memorial Day Celebration of Gregory Nolan Millard"
First and foremost, I hope that all of you are good in spirits, you and your family are healthy and everyone enjoyed the early and most welcome South swell that recently graced our beaches here in San Diego.
As well, I hope that all of us appreciate how truly lucky we are to live where we live, surf where we surf, have the family that we have, are alive and thus far have survived this truly horrible pandemic.
Just a short while ago, it seemed as if our beaches would never be open and our beautiful waves would be out of our reach forever. Thank goodness we are, once again, able to surf and together, enjoy our truly amazing lifestyle.
Regardless of now being able to take full advantage of our natural waterparks, It still, somehow feels different, not the same as it did a short while ago. Like most, if not all of you, I miss the way it was. I miss being able to park and hang out at the Lot or at Tourmaline. I miss paddling out and after a session, coming back in and connecting with all of you, my brothers and sisters. When and if, we are able to gather and bath in the warmth of each other’s company, without fear of going viral in a bad biological way, then, I will feel, once again that our lives are back to a “normal’ that feels comforting and familiar.
In truth, we all know that we will all have to embrace a new “normal” and find the silver linings in the aftermath. I am looking to all of you to point the way forward!
As I reflect on the Memorial Day that just passed, I am reminded by our collective losses of what this day actually means.
Yes, Memorial Day is the unofficial/official first day of summer. Yes, it is a day where family and friends gather, celebrate, play, BBQ, eat, drink, golf and of course surf.
But in Truth, Memorial Day is a Federal Holliday set aside to honor and mourn the loss of our Nation’s men and woman who died while serving in The United States Armed Forces.
I believe, this Day should be extended, to include and recognize those who returned home from battle, but due to emotional and psychological injuries, lost their personal war at home.
I know we all have our own way of honoring our fallen family members and friends. For me, every year since 2007, I join Gold Star family the Millards at National Cemetery Fort Rosecrans, to honor their son, Gregory Nolan Millard, AKA “Shorty”, who was killed in action in Samara Iraq on May 26, 2007. Even though, due to COVID, there was no official memorial service at Fort Rosecrans this year, we had a heck of a celebration at Shorty’s final place of eternal rest.
Another tradition, is to bike up to the Cross and hang out for a while at the plaque that honors US Army Corporal and Past Windansea Surf Club President, Jeffrey Junkins. I can’t say enough good things about Jeff who was about as good a friend to many of us you will ever have. Jeff passed away on May 14, 1999.
In the words of Jeffrey’s good friend Bill Decker: I was asked by Bill Brazil, President of the Windansea Surf Club, to say a few words about Jeff Junkins. Growing up in La Jolla you meet a lot of memorable people. None more ‘bigger than life’ than Jeff Junkins. Jeff was the kind of guy you could depend on, he always had your back. After graduating from La Jolla High School in 1964, Jeff enlisted in the army and became one of the most elite soldiers in the armed forces, the Green Beret. Jeff was assigned to the Studies and Operations Group, SOG, which conducted some of the most dangerous and daring missions carried out in the war in Vietnam. Jeff came home a different person. He was still quick to laugh, but he was damaged from what he’d witnessed in Vietnam. He often spoke about how difficult it was for him to convince the VA (Veterans Administration), that he was not well. PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), at that time, was not discussed. On several occasions when he and I were hanging out, just the two of us in the Windansea parking lot, he’d say, “Hey Decker, let's go back to Vietnam and finish up the fight”. And, I’d laugh and say, “No fucking way”. As I look back, the war was never finished for Jeff. It became the voice in his head that was never silent. Bolting upright in bed in the middle of the night, dripping with sweat, he relived the horrors of what he’d seen. It became too much for him to bear. But then, on May 14th, 1999, the war finally ended for Jeff. Jeff Junkins loved La Jolla, loved Windansea, loved being with his friends, adored his mother and Jeff loved his country. Jeff Junkins was a PATRIOT.
I would like to recognize our Club Members who served our Nation, and thank them for their sacrifice and their service.
Thank you Jeffry Junkins – US Army Deceased: https://www.lajollalight.com/lifestyle/sd-cm-ljl-junkins-20190503-htmlstory.html
Thank you William Decker-US Army Infantry Alive and still sharing one liners
In Bill’s own words: Billy asked me to say something about my army experiences. Surfing was the blame for me being drafted and going to Vietnam. I was attending San Diego State and had a 2S Deferment, which you could get by having a study load of 12 units or more. Well, that was great until the surf got good in the spring semester. So, I went surfing and didn’t go to class. By the time the semester was over, I had only two units, lost the deferment and got the draft notice. The government sent me to Fort Ord and Fort Lewis for infantry training. And, I was assigned off to Vietnam in 1968, where I was later assigned to the 199th Light Infantry Brigade operating in the Mei Kong Delta, where I earned my Combat Infantry Badge, finished my tour of duty, came back home and went surfing.
Thank you Billy Caster- US Army Deceased
Speaking on behalf of Billy Caster is his daughter Heidi: While our dad didn’t serve oversees he was drafted by the Army and served his time. Dad was a man who was always willing to sacrifice for others. He was not only giving of his time to help others, but I remember being aware that he would pay his employees first before himself, and of course he gave to his family. Blessed to have a dad that was so honorable and giving. He is missed every single day! *Photo of him on his birthday where he was stationed in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Jason Tuschen – 27 Year US Navy SEAL shredding Windansea and any break he wants!
In Jason’s words: The military is full of all walks of life. All races, religions, genders, sexual orientations, educated, GEDs, wealthy, middle class, and scratch-dirt poor are all represented within its ranks. Not all, but an overwhelming majority all work together with a common, core ethos in respecting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all people at home and abroad. That belief is so strong that they are willing to risk their lives for each other and the innocent (and even not-so-innocent) in defense of that belief. As we watch the unrest unfold throughout our nation this week and the hatred coming from all sides, it would be good to remember that core ethos and treat everyone with respect and treat them the way you want to be treated. If we don’t, we let down the memories and sacrifice of all those who paid the ultimate price.
If I have left anyone out, it is not intentional! If I have, please let me know who, so we can add them to the list of Windansea Surf Club members who served our country.
The Windansea Surf Club is a non for profit, a 501(c)3 and that means as an organization we must stay away from supporting or referencing any political or religious thoughts, beliefs, ideas, campaigns, etc.
With that in mind, my closing remarks are in no way shape or form, from or about the Club or me representing the Club in any manner. It is simply a thought from an old surfer, Bill “Brasil” Fitzmaurice who has been an American citizen for 66 years.
I close this message with The Pledge of Allegiance.
In light of the what our country is going through I hope that all of us take a moment to ponder the words and I pray, think about what they mean and how they should apply to “We The People”. Leave in, or take out the Word “God” that is entirely up to you but please leave in “With Liberty And Justice For All”.
I Pledge Allegiance To The Flag Of The United States Of America
And To The Republic For Which It Stands, One Nation Under God,
Indivisible, With Liberty And Justice For All.
Make no room for hatred, racism and inequality!
Mahalo and Aloha