Got good surf pics?
Send em off to me directly.
(See link below) Just make sure
they're 650-700 pixels wide.
NO bigger NO smaller.

In fact if you have any questions about the
size, email me first and I'll write back.
Start shooting crackie!!
Ralph's Pic Of The Week

If you want to access the Pic of the
week from past weeks click here.

August 24th, 2008 The Wounded Warriors Blog

There are so many sayings and clichés that we hear throughout our lives, that it's hard to pay attention to any of them. One of the more popular one's is "We take so many things for granted". We've all heard it, and basically, we all agree. We do take things for granted.

Little things like for instance, walking.

How many of us take that for granted? I know I do. Walking. Forget surfing. I'm talking about rolling out of bed in the morning, getting yourself dressed and walking out to the kitchen to pour yourself a cup of coffee.

Do you take that simple act for granted?

On Friday morning at 10th Street, I along with members of POST 35, and the local surfing community, as well as other town officials and volunteers, had the distinct pleasure of witnessing a group of American Veterans, who were badly wounded in the GWOT try surfing for the first time.

It's hard (even for me) to describe what we all took away from this day. Sharing our love and passion of surfing with these truly grateful Heroes who were wounded in IRAQ. If you were there, and were one of the many volunteers, you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you were there and just happened to witness the event, you know what I'm talking about. But for those who were not, I'll try my best to describe it all for you.

But, I need to start somewhere near the beginning.

Last Winter, local Surfer Michael Taylor shot me an email and asked me if would be interested in helping him organize a day of surfing for the Wounded Warriors this summer. Now, for those who don't know who the Wounded Warriors (WW) are, they are an organization that helps introduce Veterans who have been wounded in the GWOT (Iraq, Afghanistan and the Philippines) to outdoor sports such as: skiing, snowboarding, hiking, white water rafting and...Bam! You guessed it-surfing! Although, they had never tried surfing.

Well, I answered that email, the second I read it. "Hell Yes! I'd be interested!" So, we got the wheels in motion, and went through a series of checklists. We got all the shops on board. We got the American Legion POST 35 to step up and help with food and support. We contacted all the local Hampton town authorities as well as Parks and recreation department. And, we got so many local surfers who were willing to volunteer their time to help out that we had to start turning volunteers away.

Many of the local surfers who volunteered were Veterans themselves. It's funny how many Vets are actually out there surfing with us swell after swell. Humble individuals who served our country and are surfers.

Then there were all the others, who didn't serve but just wanted to help out because, well because it was the right thing to do. And my friends, those who did not serve are no less patriotic than those who did. It was a joint effort of all. Veterans, first responders and civilians. All wanting to help these brave Americans try surfing.

These Wounded Warriors wanted to go surfing and by God, we were going to make that wish come true.

But like most of you know, you can't predict waves.

So we watched and waited as Tropical Storm Fay became Tropical Storm Fade. Still, we had back up plans for the WW crew. If there was no surf we'd provide, Stand Up Paddle boards, Kayaks, and an Outrigger canoe. We had the date Friday August 22, 2008 from 10AM-3PM.

The prospects for surf looked slim at best.

The day before was as flat as it gets. 6 inches...maybe. Oh it was glassy and clean but it was tiny. At one point Michael and I toyed with pulling the plug altogether. But the thought of a day at the beach, with all the other crafts available, we went forward.

Dam the torpedoes, we're making this happen with or without surf.

The morning of the event, a funny thing happened. The surf came up. Not the kind of surf we would like but more than enough surf for any beginner to have fun in. And the key word in surfing has always been "fun."

There was not a single cloud in the sky and...the water was warm. You didn't even need a wetsuit. It was that warm.

The vans showed up and the Vets and their families poured out at 10th Street and stood and looked over that cement wall at the surf for the first time and smiled. We all smiled. We all clapped and cheered and the rest as they history. Michael introduced the Vets to the local Surf community and we were off.

The day became a series of hoots, cheers and smiles.
It was for me personally, one of the most pleasurable moments of my surfing life. And I've had a few. Truly inspiring beyond mere words. And my friends, I was not alone in these feelings. We all felt it and shared it with each other. The buzz lasted all day and into the night, and for most of us, it's still here.

We all took something away from this day that will last a lifetime. Something born of simple goodness from our hearts and souls. And, it was all because of surfing.


I guess me writing about this day is one thing, but to hear others talk about it, is something else. But if I could quote some of those, who you know, I think you'll get a better idea. "The highlight of my summer. This went beyond my wildest expectations." Dave Cropper-Cinnamon Rainbows. "One of the best things I've ever done in my life. A beautiful day" Lenny Nichols ESA Director. "It was awesome. Unbelievable." Mike Paugh-Zaptsix. "I got chicken skin watching these Vets surf for the first time. " Jack Keefe. "Thank you for allowing me to get involved. That was a great." Kevin Grondin.

These are just a few quotes from the local surf scene.

The Vets themselves had as much to say. One of them, Mark Mix was wounded in Iraq in 2004. He was a NAVY SeaBee working with the Marines when a mortar impacted close enough to send shrapnel into his spine. He ended up paralyzed from the waist down. He sat there in his wheel chair on the sand and someone suggested that I offer him a kayak as opposed to surfing. I reluctantly asked him if he'd prefer the easy way over surfing.

He never wavered in his quick answer. "I want to surf."

I looked him in the eye and said. "You got it brother." The others were just as brave, and just as confident. All of them. The four men and the one woman. All of them having suffered serious wounds, were about to try surfing for the very first time and showed no signs of being timid or backing down. None of them.

And not a single one of them felt sorry for themselves. And they certainly didn't want any of us feeling sorry for them. In fact, before they arrived I briefed the volunteers by saying that these Vets should not be treated as helpless children. I told them to treat them, as you would anyone else.

They were all proud of their service and they were not bitter about the war. In fact, if anything, they said they'd all go back if they would let them. Imagine that.

It was impressive to hear them speak about their service.

But it was even more impressive, to see how stoked they were after surfing. And they all charged. Every single one of them. Thomas, the tall African American Army Sgt who was wounded when his Humvee took a direct hit from an IED, said he would try anything. Surfing was just another challenge for him. Same with SSgt Angel De La Cruz who was wounded by shrapnel in his upper body and face. Including losing one of his eyes. "Once you get blown up, everything is easy."

But I think that one of the truly inspirational Vets would have to be Nicollette Maroulis. She was a NAVY Dog Handler who was attached to the Marines when she was seriously wounded. She lost her dog in the blast. And she spent the next 3 years in a wheelchair. The last year she used a cane and just last week put the cane away.

She was something else.

Imagine three years in a wheelchair. The long hard months of therapy, not knowing if you would ever walk again. The daily grind must of been so hard. Yet, she never gave up. She worked hard every day, and through many many surgeries, and her constant work level, she was able to not only "walk again", she surfed!

She told me, she thinks that Surfing may be the new thing for her. So who knows what that means. But one thing's for certain, I wouldn't put anything past these guys.

For they are, TRUE WARRIORS. And they will be back next year, and hopefully this "Day at The Beach" will become an annual Summer Event.

Thanks again to all who helped out. You should all feel good about yourselves today. And you should all feel good about your local surf community, and local Vets Post as well as all the other organizations who chipped in to make this work. Cinnamon Rainbows, Pioneers, Zapstix, Flatbread, POST 35, SFOD, Brian Nevins, Ed O'Connell, HPD, HFD, Parks and Recreation, all the volunteers, and those who brought equipment and other gear to the event. A Big Thanks to Michael and Linda Taylor. Thank you all again.

The Olympics have been fun to watch.

I have to admit, I got hooked on some of the new sports I've never really watched before. Like Beach Volleyball. A friend of mine out West has a friend who's daughter is a great surfer, but just so happens to be on the Women's water Polo team. Surfing is Kami Craig's passion when she's not doing Water Polo.
My buddy Scott "Wally" Engle wanted me to give a big shout out to Kami and her Santa Barbara gang!

A congrats to all the US Olympic Competitors.

Happy Birthday today to Kai Nichols who turns 9 today the 24th. Happy Birthday
to my brother John (August 25th) And finally a Big Happy Birthday to Jessica Ritchie who turns 21 on August 27.

NEXT FRIDAY at 5PM at Cinnamon Rainbows Legendary Tube ruder Shaun Tompson will be in the shop. Then join us all as we head over to the IOKA to see Shaun's new movie BUSTIN DOWN THE DOOR. The true story of the emergence of contemporary surfing on the North Shore in the late 70's.

*Also look for the new format of this weekly blog. We are getting rid of the double scrolling.

Remember my friends...Surfing heals all wounds....
Pray for Surf. Pray for Peace. Surf For Fun.


Yesterday 1968 Vietnam. The original Wounded Warriors go surfing.
(Below) This is a photo of local Hampton surfer Tom Woods . Tom was badly wounded in Vietnam and recuperated from his war wounds at a place called Vung Tau in South Vietnam. He and a few other lucky surfers got to surf some fun waves while he was getting better. Tom ended up being a lifeguard at that
beach along with another great surfer Ron Sizemore. Together, they finished their tour of duty helping
make others feel comfortable at the beach. By surfing and other relaxing beach activities.
Photo courtesy of the Book "Between the Lines"

2008 Today-Wounded Warriors Project. August 22nd-2008 at 10th Street
North Beach THE WALL, Hampton NH.

(Above) WW project Friday morning. Briefing by Michael Taylor (left) prior to the arrival of Vets.
Photo by Brian Nevins

(Above) WW project Friday morning beach camp. Looks like surf to me. Where did that small swell come from?
Photo by Brian Nevins

(Above) NAVY CB Mark Mix being carried out to the line up by Kevin Grondin and Lenny Nichols.
Photo by Brian Nevins

(Above) WW Sgt Thomas Green first ever wave.
Photo by Brian Nevins

(Above) Tony Berardini and Dave Cropper assist a wounded Vet on the Big SUP board. The water was so warm.
Photo by Brian Nevins

(Above) Zapstix owner Mike "Zap" Paugh helping guide another first timer Friday morning.
Photo by Brian Nevins

(Above)The joy of surfing during the WW project Friday morning.
Photo by Brian Nevins

(Above) WW project Friday morning. The Gallery assembles.
Photo by Brian Nevins

(Above) WW project Friday morning. Johnny Sav was on hand with the Outrigger offering rides to everyone
and keeping the stoke and aloha spirit alive. Mahalo my brother.
Photo by Brian Nevins

(Above) NAVY CB Mark Mix's wheel chair. Mark did not need this doing what he was doing. Which was
basically catching every wave he paddled for. No kidding.
Photo by Brian Nevins

(Above) Seabee Mark Mix caught every wave he paddled for. Not bad for someone who's paralyzed from
the waist down.
Video frame grab by R. Fatello SFOD

VIDEO by SFOD R. Fatello

(Above) CLICK ON Video (photo) Frame Grab of Mark Mix a wounded Iraqi Vet being helped by Ed Buell a
wounded Vietnam Vet, with Nick Africano a Lifeguard/surfer who's going into the NAVY at the end of Summer.
Watch a clip of Mark surfing all on his own. It was a beautiful day in New Hampshire.
Video Frame grab by R. Fatello SFOD

(Above) WW project Friday. What an amazing day.
Photo by Ed O'Connell

(Above) Mark Mix wave number 100!
Photo by Ed O'Connell

(Above) Nicolette Maroulis setting up for a green, glassy, fun sized wave, with Mom Laura on left.
Photo by Ed O'Connell

(Above) Triumphant Nicolette Maroulis after riding all the way to the sand. Nicolette spent 3 years in a
wheelchair after being wounded in IRAQ. They said she'd never walk again. Ha!
Photo by Ed O'Connell

(Above) HFD were a tremendous help. Thank god they were here. They helped SSGT Thomas Green after
he took ill after swallowing too much saltwater. Thanks guys!
Photo by R. Fatello SFOD

(Above) Two major pillars in the community. Brian Warburton left, and Steve Benotti right, were big
supporters as was the HPD and town of Hampton Officials.
Photo courtesy of R. Fatello SFOD

(Above) We could not have done this without these two Hampton Lifeguards. Chris and Nick. Thanks guys!
Photo by R. Fatello SFOD

(Above) POST 35 Veterans. These guys have given me so much crap for surfing over the years until this
day. Now Big Handsome Commander is hip! Honestly, I love and respect these guys so much.
They are my brothers and comrades. Carry on gentlemen. As you were.
Photo by Kim Grondin

(Above) There's a good reason why Nicolette is smiling. It's called surfing.
Photo by Ed O'Connell

(Above) Angel lost and eye to an IED blast. He told us that nothing can keep him down. We believe him.
Photo by Ed O'Connell

(Above) More scenes from the best day of the summer.
Photo by Ed O'Connell

(Above) Sgt Thomas Green shoots by Brian Nevins as he shoots his experience with the thrill of surfing.
Photo by Ed O'Connell

(Above) Wounded Warriors and other Veterans converge on the Wall.
Photo by Ed O'Connell

(Above) Nicolette Maroulis prior to dawning the rubber suit and fiberglass board.
Photo by Ed O'Connell

(Above) Got canoe?
Photo by Ed O'Connell

(Above) Getting ready, while talking shop and war.
Photo by Ed O'Connell

(Above) Line em up.
Photo by Ed O'Connell

(Above) Nicolette Maroulis was so stoked after a day of riding waves. She's married to an Army Ranger
who's shipping out to IRAQ next month. Her brother also served two tours in IRAQ. Thank you all for
your service.
Photo by Ed O'Connell

(Above) A day at the beach? You bet it was.
Photo by Ed O'Connell

(Above) Jeff Shapiro and Jimmy Dunn hung around all day and had a blast.
Photo by Ed O'Connell

(Above) Nicolette Maroulis was a Dog Handler in IRAQ. Her dog was killed in the blast that wounded
her. She kept a photo of her dog near her bedside. I'm sure the spirit of her canine friend helped her
get through those difficult days. Nicolette is not bitter. She's proud of her service and what they've done
in Iraq. And she's pretty dam proud of the fact that she could stand up on a surfboard her very first time.
Photo by Ed O'Connell

(Above) Helping Nicolette get into some fun waves will stay with me forever.
Photo by Ed O'Connell

(Above) Watching Mark Mix catch a million waves and push his body up to get a better feel for the ride
will forever be an inspiration to all of us who witnessed it.
Photo by Ed O'Connell

(Above) Zikera was a natural on a surfboard.
Photo by Ed O'Connell

(Above) Jay Gould and Johnny Meehan from Flatbread donated 10 Flatbreads. I only got a few slices
because Nicolette wanted to keep surfing! Jay showed up with his boat and the banner and flags say it
all...Thank You.
Photo by Ed O'Connell

(Above) Mark Mix yells at Mackey V to get out of his way. Look at this wave. It was flat the day before
and flat that morning.
Photo by Ed O'Connell

(Above) Really, look at this wave. Another WW sampling a North Beach burger.
Photo by Ed O'Connell

(Above) Sgt Thomas Green was hit by and IED and his Humvee flipped over landing on top of him. He
broke a bunch of bones. Yet he was here to try surfing.
Photo by Ed O'Connell

(Above) Tony Beradini and Dave Cropper cheering Thomas on.
Photo by Ed O'Connell

(Above) Prior to the first go out. The briefing on the beach. These guys paid close attention to everything
we said. Like Mark says..."We follow orders pretty good."
Photo by Ed O'Connell

(Above) What? You didn't think any of them didn't eat it did you? Hey, we all eat it.
Photo by Ed O'Connell

(Above) Mark said he'd go back today if they'd take him.
Photo by Ed O'Connell

(Above) Ralph and Ed Buell. Ed was wounded in Nam in 67. He and his son Aaron were there to help
out on Friday. Thanks for all the help guys...and Semper Fi Ed.
Photo by Brian Nevins

(Above) Michael Taylor and myself after the long glorious day.
Photo by R. Fatello SFOD

(Above) Big Handsome Daddy The Night Before playing Voodoo Chile Slight Return.
Photo by C. Fatello SFOD

Today 2008 More Summer Images from New England

(Above) The Annual SFR party for all Surf Families.

(Above) Drew Cropper surfing with his dad Mike Cropper last week. Looks like the Cropper Goofy
Foot Trend continues.
Photo courtesy of Mike Cropper

(Above) Brian and Samantha went on a hike yesterday. This is what Brian shot.
Photo by Brian Nevins

(Above) Samantha and the waterfall. It's not just surfing. It's life.
Photo by Brian Nevins

(Above) Samantha at the Falls.
Photo by Brian Nevins

(Above) Brian opening a new chapter to the Ansel Adams world of B&W.
Photo by Brian Nevins

Today 2008 PARTING SHOT Wounded Warrior Switchboard Technique

(Above) SSGT Angel decides he wants to ride the other soft top, and attempts a midair exchange.
Photo by Ed O'Connell













































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Click On Wave to Go Back to The Top.