Lely Classics Ladies Golf League ended their season on a high note. They held their final tournament and luncheon of the season on April 13 with an event themed “Salute to America”. Chairwoman of the event, Charlene Bazinet along with her committee members Elsie Miller, Marilee Sams and Ronee Gritzinger made this event a memorable one for the golfers as well as their guests of honor.
The day began with a patriotic display by a contingent of The Patriot Guard Riders motorcycle group lining the entrance to the club with their motorcycles and flags welcoming all members and guests, many of whom saluted or gave thumbs up to the dedicated riders and their beautifully decorated motorcycles. The committee presented each of the riders with a sweet treat, and a gift to show their appreciation for their attendance.
Next the lady golfers, who were all clad in red, white and blue, were entertained with patriotic music performed by the Lely High School Band which played a medley of songs including God Bless America and The Star Spangled Banner. Following themusic, an Honor Guard from American Legion Post 135 gave a moving tribute which included a twenty one gun salute.
Breakfast was served to members and guests after which the golfers lined up in their golf carts and were each escorted to their respective starting holes by the Patriot Riders.
Following the golf, a special luncheon was served with honored guests from the military, both past and present. The first introduced was Retired Master Sergeant Bill Brooks who enlisted in August 1964 and retired June 1988 with 23 1/2 years of service. His overseas tours included Korea, Panama and Thailand. He served as a medic with field hospitals and MASH units and was an instructor for five years at a Combat Medic Training Center and also served as a Senior NCO and Medical Corpsman at General Hospital.
The next military man honored was Chuck (Crazy Cajun) Winiger, originally from New Orleans, La. who served in Vietnam from 1965-1966 and was attached to the Seventh Fleet as a Coxswain on a 32 foot boat and patrolled Da Nang, Chu Lai and Cam RamBay. He currently has a foundation and golf tournament called The Cajun Classic which supports Veterans and their families and works as second in command to Captain John (Giddyup) Bunch.
Captain Bunch is the founder of Operation Open Arms (www.openarms.org) which is a nationally acclaimed military outreach program. OOA has a very simple mission statement “To provide US Servicemen/women visiting South West Florida every conceivable benefit during their two week combat leave or return home from any foreign duty station.” Operation Open Arms depends on tax deductible donations to provide extraordinary benefits such as free limo service, lodging, restaurants, fishing, charters, golf, tennis, bowling, kayaking, biking, emergency dental care and a cutting edge approach to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Another honored guest was active duty local Marine Devin Prio who is 21 years old and enlisted in the Marine Corps in May 2009. He graduated from boot camp on September 10, 2009 after which he went to Military Combat Training (MCT) in North Carolina then on to Military Occupation Specialty (MOS) training school for Field Radio Operators in Twenty-Nine Palms,CA. After graduation from his schooling and becoming a Radio Operator he then went to his first unit being RCT-1. He is now a Field Radio Operator and was deployed to Afghanistan where he is currently serving as a radio operator with RCT-1 in Helmand Province. Lely Golf Club adopted Devin and he will be flying the golf club’s flag at his field station when he returns to Afghanistan in the next week.
Lastly, Norman Meshaw of Cape Coral who enlisted in US Navy 1965 at age 17 served two tours in Vietnam aboard USS Newport News and was honorably discharged in 1968. He then enlisted in the US Coast Guard in 1976. He served in various assignments including Search and Rescue, Aids to Navigation, Port Safety and Staff assignments until retirement as LCDR in 1998 after 22 1/2 years service. He now holds a Merchant Marine Masters license and operates a charter boat fishing business.
The entire day was well planned and well attended. It was a fitting tribute to our men in service and all were moved and honored to be in attendance.