As the sun came up very early over the San Francisco Bay last Saturday morning, a sleek 113 foot Sailing Schooner named Eros quietly slipped her moorings and raised her sails once again carrying a National Treasure aboard her historic decks.
Five severely wounded members of our Armed Forces enjoyed the day for some much needed R&R aboard Eros, one of the "Little Ships of Dunkirk" who was used decades before to rescue the wounded and injured from the beaches of Dunkirk as Hitler's Army smashed through France in early days of World War 2.
On this day Eros had aboard her decks a new generation of injured Veterans. There was Navy Ryan Sykes injured in Afghanistan suffering a traumatic brain injury, United States Marine Brian Vargas who suffered a gunshot to the face, US Army Ranger Dominic Annechuci who suffered a gunshot to the head just a few months ago, US Army Doug Connor and US Army Ranger Jason Deitch with equal unseen and hidden injuries.
In perspective to be able to spend the day sailing and talking , more importantly listening to them tell about how far each had traveled in their journeys of selfless service to our Nation, sustaining severe wounds, long rehabilitations and their individual plans and progress towards achieving success in their careers was inspiring.
The owners and Skippers of Eros, Bill and Grace Bodle who graciously provided Eros for the trip, masterfully piloted Eros from Point Richmond around Treasure Island underneath the Bay Bridge past Admiral Chester Nimitz's former home, down the waterfront of historic San Francisco, passing the Golden Gate Bridge back around Angel Island to her home port of Sugar Dock in Richmond Harbor for a great day of sightseeing.
I left at the end of the day thinking to myself, I wish we could do this every day for every Veteran and that all of us who owe such a huge debt of gratitude to these special members of our Armed Forces need to do more than just say "Thank you for your service".
I also left very proud to be able to personally know each of these Veterans. In reality our Veterans really never stop serving our Nation and communities. They truly are our National Treasure.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Mike Conklin is chairman and chief executive officer of the Sentinels of Freedom organization, which has its headquarters in San Ramon.