John Wayne Airport (JWA) welcomed wounded veterans from throughout the United States for a weeklong event with Operation Surf. Fourteen active-duty veterans arrived at JWA on Sunday, June 3 and were greeted by an ovation of volunteers from the Bob Hope USO at JWA, TSA agents, Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD), California Highway Patrol (CHP), local law enforcement officers and JWA staff.
Grandpa Mack, a WWII, Korean War and Vietnam War veteran arrived to lead the brigade through the Terminal to the motorcade waiting to escort them to Huntington Beach. The motorcade included officers from OCSD, CHP, and police departments from the cities of Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach and Santa Ana. Operation Second Chance graciously sponsored the flights for each veteran.
Operation Surf is a program that offers week-long adaptive surfing trips for wounded-veteran and active-duty military men and women. Each participant receives dry-land instruction, including a discussion of any technique or equipment adaptations that may be needed, and are trained in equipment and ocean safety. This is followed by several days of surfing, during which goals are set, reached, and conquered, and perceived physical limitations are surpassed. In the evenings, there are dinners filled with camaraderie, bonding, and story sharing. During the final dinner, awards are given to acknowledge each participant’s accomplishments.
“It was very emotional,” said one JWA staff member. “We are all deeply proud of these brave young men and women, and we are honored to be a part of this worthwhile program.”