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May 30th, 2011-The NEW RUN is 14 out Of 14 Weeks.
Waist high or better at least once a week. The Surf on Tuesday and Saturday was easily waist high.

Memorial Day 2011. An Ode To Joe

I remember the day like it was yesterday. The first time I met Joe. It was a hot humid day during the summer of 1971. I pulled up to the Wall around 10th Street to check the Surf. As I walked up to the cement wall, there was a young man leaning against the Wall. He looked to be about my age 20-21.
He had long hair, a bushy mustache and he had a necklace comprised of beads and bear claws around his neck. He was checking the surf as well. As I got closer, I looked down and saw a familiar tattoo on his calf. A black panther crawling up his leg. The claws digging deep into his flesh drawing blood. He gave me an instant look of "what the hell are you looking at?" No words were spoken. But I smiled and nodded. I had seen that tattoo before. For that tattoo was the sure sign of someone who had been to Vietnam. And more importantly, someone who had "faced the tiger". You know, combat.
It was small talk about the surf at first. I could tell this guy was not auditioning for any new friends. Slowly, the subject got around to the tattoo. I'd seen enough of them in 1969 and 1970. We both looked over our shoulders to make sure no one was listening. For you see, in those days NO ONE openly admitted they were Veterans of Vietnam. It's sad but true. In the early 70's you did not tell anyone you were a vet. Unless of course, you ran into a fellow vet and only then, it was mentioned in the utmost discreet mode.
Turns out Joe was there the same time I was there. He was Army and I was in the Marines. After a short time, Joe and I both realized how much we had in common. We were both Vietnam Vets who loved Rock and Roll and Surfing. Thinking back now, it occurred to me how the Vietnam War was the first real "Surf War". Surfing was very popular in the 60's from the West Coast to the East Coast. The whole country was into Surfing and the Surf culture.

Unfortunately, there was a war raging in Southeast Asia and a lot of those surfers got drafted. There were I'm sure, plenty of surfers who enlisted, but for the most part, they got drafted. So Joe and I were surf vets. We became very close friends in a very short period of time.
Those days were strange to say the least. Whenever Joe and I were alone we'd talk about the War, and the minute someone else would come into the conversation we'd clam up. I remember once when I was attending college in Boston. I was at a party, when a group of students found out I was a vet, they asked me to leave because "I was bringing them down". Joe and I never talked around anyone else. We knew better. There were exceptions to the rule. The young surfers like Kevin Grondin and Jeff Obst. We'd talk around them, but mostly so they'd never get any ideas about running off to join the armed forces thinking it was cool. War is not cool. And the War in Vietnam was winding down. 1971-72 was a bad time. We kept to ourselves in those days. It was better for all of us.
But, there was one thing that was painfully obvious to me, and to anyone who really knew Joe. You see, as proud as I am of my service and my fellow Marines (and anyone who knows me, knows of my love and respect for my fellow Marines) I could never hold a candle to some of the things that Joe had experienced. The more I learned about what he did in the War, the more respect I had for him. Joe was a bona fide War hero.

For the sake of time, the term "Hero" has been used many times in our lifetime. Especially in sports. However, there's a big difference between war heroes and Sports heroes. A Sports Hero does something he loves to do, is loved and admired by thousands of adoring fans, and more than likely, gets paid extraordinary amounts of money. The War hero did something he more than likely didn't want to be involved in, while only a handful of people were witness to the deed, and they got paid little. Very little.
Joe was a War Hero.
Joe Somogyi was originally from upstate New York. His father, was a survivor of the infamous Battan Death March in the Philippines during WWII. He passed away at an early age. Leaving his wife Marion,Joe and his older brother Steve. They made the most of it like most families do when tragedy strikes. Joe started surfing as a young boy traveling to the Jersey Shore and Long Island. Like any surfer, once he caught that first wave, he was hooked. That was before Vietnam.

Everything changed after that.
He enlisted in the US Army after High School in 1968 reluctantly leaving the waves of the Jersey shore. He became a highly respected Airborne Army Ranger having graduated from Fort Benning GA Airborne course in March of 1969. Shortly after he was sent to Vietnam arriving in country on July 4th, 1969 and was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division. He was promoted to the rank of Spec 4. He attended the 5th Special Forces MACV Recondo School and was from that time on involved in some of the War's most dangerous covert missions.

Joe was deep into the War, that only a few would ever experience.
For starters. Photo Recon missions; when his team of 3 would be inserted deep into "Indian Country" for days on end. Secretly watching and recording entire NVA (North Vietnamese Army) battalions. Learning quickly the disadvantage of reporting enemy activity too soon would result in "Arc Light" bombings from the ominous B-52's.

"The ground would roll and shake" he'd say.
He told me first hand, how his team captured a NVA payroll officer without firing a shot. "We laid on our backs in the tall grass, waiting for hours, finally, the officer and his two armed guards came walking down the trail. We sprung up and grabbed all three men, dispatching the guards, and bringing back the shocked NVA officer unharmed." Can you imagine that? I can't. It scares me to this day, thinking how much courage something like that took.
That kind of enemy contact was sure to get him in trouble. Sure enough, during one mission they were attacked by a large force of enemy soldiers. Joe was stabbed in the arm by an NVA soldier carrying an AK47 with a folding stock bayonet. They got out, but not before they had to deal with combat up close and personal. It shook Joe to the core.
Another time, Joe happened to be in the vicinity of a NVA rocket attack. An orphanage was hit and was in the process of burning down. Joe heard the sounds of those kids screaming and with complete disregard to his own safety, he went into that burning building and pulled those children out of there. He saved over 40 orphans that day. I like to think that some of those kids have grown up and made something of their lives. I would hope that some of them remember the Army Ranger who saved their lives.
It wasn't always intense for Joe. He used to have a photo on his kitchen table in one of the "hooches" he lived in here in Hampton. It was a picture of Joe near China Beach, outside of DaNang. He's standing there holding a surfboard. Big smile on his face. Joe had found a way to surf in Vietnam.
I would look at the slides Joe had. It was at the time, amazing to see how beautiful Vietnam was where Joe operated out of. Of course that was before we ever heard the words "Agent Orange". Turns out, they sprayed the areas he and his team worked out of pretty heavy. Now for all intents and purposes, I don't believe for one minute, that the US government knowingly sprayed their own troops, knowing that the stuff they were spraying, would cause cancer. I don't think Joe believed it either.
Joe left Vietnam on July 3rd 1970. He was awarded The Combat Infantry Badge, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal, the Pathfinder Badge, the Parachute Badge, MACV Recondo Badge, Vietnam Service Medal w/ two oak leaf clusters, the M-16 Marksman badge and a number of other awards and medals.
He moved to Hampton to start a new life and to go surfing. He quickly got a job working as a carpenter and was on his way to becoming a solid Hamptonite. He bought a house on Mill Pond Road and was the happiest I'd ever seen him. We surfed and worked our way through the years and life was good. Joe was responsible for naming a lot of the surf breaks that the kids surf today. He was constantly pushing us to ride different breaks in the area. His brother Steve and Mom would travel up to visit from New York every summer. He was proud of his nephew Eric and couldn't wait to take him surfing. Joe was a survivor and nothing could possibly go wrong.

Joe also encouraged me to play my guitar. I almost gave it up back then, but Joe made me keep playing. We both loved was great times.
Around 1977 Joe started to get sick to his stomach. We both joked about what was wrong with him. Neither one of us having any idea. But Joe paid no attention to his pain. He continued to work as a carpenter with Norm Murphy. The two of them responsible for many of the homes you see here in Hampton today. Joe was becoming part of the community here in Hampton. We were surfing and working. Joe being sick was just a temporary thing. No big deal. The war was behind us, having ended in 1975. Nothing but good times lay ahead for us.
I remember the phone call after Joe's visit to the VA hospital.
"They gave me my ticket."he said. "What are you talking about?" I asked. The ticket, was a one way ride to the next world. We were both in shock. And then, for the first time since I had known him, Joe cried. We both cried. Joe hung on for six months, but the cancer in his stomach spread too far. There was no way out of this mess. Not this time.
The last day May 20, 1978, I visited him in his room at the Manchester VA Hospital. I had moved back to Boston having started my music career.  I had not seen him in a few months. We only spoke on the phone every other day. When I walked into the room, I was not prepared for how much weight he had lost. He looked like he was 100 years old. "Pretty scary eh?" he said. I tried to keep a stiff lip and said "Not really." knowing dam well, it was in fact, very scary.  Joe was typically around 175lbs. But now looking at him, he couldn't of weighed more than 80lbs. He never lost his sense of humor though. At one point the nurse walked in and looked at his untouched plate of food. "Not hungry Joe?" she asked. "Nah, I'm on a diet." he replied. Only he and I laughed. Nam humor.
We talked for hours, about everything. Surfing, girls, work, and more surfing.  We talked about the next world. I asked him, if it was possible,  to show me signs. Let me know that there’s something else. The very last thing he said to me was, "I'm ready for a new adventure". We hugged each other and said goodbye. Forever. He passed away a few hours later. Joe was 27 years old.
As I paddle out into the surf each day during my Year long undertaking of surfing everyday for a year, I think about Molly, my mother, my father,...and I find myself thinking about Joe. In fact, every Memorial Day I think about him. Because, even though he didn't die in Vietnam, he died as a result of Vietnam. And that's what Memorial Day is all about. We honor those who gave the supreme sacrifice for their country. Joe paid in full. I still miss him. I always will.
Because, Joe was surfer, who was my best friend, and Joe was a hero.
"Surfing Heals All Wounds..."



Now for some of my Weekly Global Observances:
This is Memorial Day Weekend. Remember those who gave their lives for our country so that we can do the things we love to do. Take a moment on Monday and reflect on that sacrifice. Unless of course, you are too busy.

The Bruins are heading to the STANLEY CUP FINALS! What an amazing turn of events this week. From the heartbreaking loss to the amazing 1-0 victory in game 7 in Boston on Friday. What a great feeling it is to be a Bruins fan.

ANNOUNCEMENTS: THE RUN REDUX IS OUT! Pick one up in the shops or email me and order one directly or go to

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Anne Marie June 2nd, 2011!

Don't forget to Check the DAILY BLOG on My CATCH A WAVE FOR MOLLY. (Click
On the Banner on this page.) Started on July 26, 2010 ENDS July 26, 2011. A Wave
a day for 365 consecutive days. Just click on the banner ads on this page.

beyond Surf Pics!
*NEW PICS added each week!

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RALPH blog Section.
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Please Support ALL The photographers who contribute to Ralph's Pic Of The Week
week for the last 8 years. **Think about BUYING a Photo from any of the weeks
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Remember my friends...Surfing Heals All Wounds....
Pray for Surf. Pray for Peace. Surf For Fun.


CLICK ABOVE for DAILY "Catch A Wave For Molly" BLOG
(Below) This photo of Bobby Orr was taken in 1970 by Ed O'Connell. Ed's a HUGE Bruins fan and he's also my right hand man here at RPOTW. Ed was a medic in Vietnam in 1968 and let me tell you all right here and now (because Ed would never tell you this). Ed saved so many kids from dying over there. All the Grunts loved the Medics and Corpsmen. Those guys were the best. Thank you Ed for all that you did in the War. And thank you for all that you do today. Photo by Ed O'Connell.
Click on the photo above to see the larger version.
Today- TUESDAY May 24th, 2011 THE WALL Photos By RALPH

(Above) Kevin Gnecco at the Wall on Tuesday afternoon. May 24, 2011.
Photo By RALPH * Click on the photo above to see the Whole gallery.

(Above) Nick Miller floating a section at the Wall on Tuesday afternoon. May 24, 2011.
Photo By RALPH * Click on the photo above to see the Whole gallery.

(Above) Unknown on a longboard at the Wall on Tuesday afternoon. May 24, 2011.
Photo By RALPH * Click on the photo above to see the Whole gallery.

(Above) Sean McIsaac racing one down at the Wall on Tuesday afternoon.
May 24, 2011.
Photo By RALPH * Click on the photo above to see the Whole gallery.

(Above) Mike Stanek lighting up the inside section at the Wall on Tuesday afternoon. May 24, 2011. Photo By RALPH * Click on the photo above to see the Whole gallery.

(Above) Alex Orestis pulling in at the Wall on Tuesday afternoon. May 24, 2011.
Photo By RALPH * Click on the photo above to see the Whole gallery.

Today- May 30th, 2011- My visit to Joe's Final Resting Place.
Photos By RALPH

Last November 20th I woke up at 6AM and caught my wave. Then I drove down to Maryland to pick up our new puppy. Along the way I stopped off in Newburgh NY to visit my friends. And to pay my respects to an old friend Joe Somogyi. This is Joe's flag. His brother Steve has it displayed in his home in New York. Memorial Day. May 30, 2011. Photo By RALPH
* Click on the photo above to see the Whole Gallery.

(Above) Me and Joe's brother Steve at his grave site in Newburgh, NY.
Memorial Day. May 30, 2011.
Photo By Charlie
* Click on the photo above to see the Whole Gallery.
Today- More Memorial Day Images...

(Above) This is SSGT Daniel Strong. He was wounded so bad in the GWOT that he had to retire. He was one of the speakers at the Heroes Ball I attended on Friday night. He's such a good kid. Photo by RALPH

(Above) These are the NAVY SEALS who went on
OPERATION RED WING on June 28th, 2005 in Afghanistan. They were all KILLED IN ACTION, except Marcus Lutrell. There is a book about that mission called LONE SURVIVOR.
Photo courtesy of the USNAVY

(Above) This is NAVY SEAL Dan Healy. He lived in Exeter, NH. He was a Surfer. He was Killed during Operation RED WING on June 28, 2005 trying to rescue his fellow SEALS who were being overrun by Taliban fighters. He was married with four kids. Photo by courtesy of the US NAVY

(Above) This is me with Dan Healy's mother Nat Healy on Friday night during the Heroes Ball. This woman is a pillar of strength and determination. Photo By Cory

(Above) Our personal Hero. Our beloved late Father, father-in-law, and Grampy. We love you and think of you every day Jerry. Iraq 2005.
Today- LOCAL Hawaiian COLOR by Bernie Baker

(Above) This looks small but fun. Photo By Bernie Baker
* Click on the photo above to see LARGER Version.

Today- Week Of MOLLY's Waves May 22 thru May 28, 2011
Photos By RALPH

This is George and Barbara Boyce. They witnessed me get hit in the head by my board on May 6th... Photo By RALPH
* Click on the photo above to see the Whole Gallery.

(Above) I found out the night before that my kid sister has a large tumor behind her eye. She's going in for surgery on Friday June 3rd at Mass General. May 25, 2011
Photo By
RALPH * Click on the photo above to see the Whole Gallery.

A salute for ALL my Fallen brothers. Saturday May 28th, 2011
Photo By RALPH * Click on the photo above to see the Whole Gallery.

Today- The FIRST BIG SOUTH SWELL of The Season and The PHANTOM Was on it in FULL FORCE. Check it out!
Photos By The PHANTOM

Whoa now...the whole coast was lit up...but only the Phantom and crew scored these gems. Photo By The Phantom
* Click on the photo above to see the Whole Gallery.

(Above) It's easy to see why in this photo why the Phantom and crew love these little boats. I mean this sucker can move. And score at will. NO guest list needed.
Photo By The Phantom * Click on the photo above to see the Whole Gallery.

(Above) The Kellar boy's are sending a message to the Big Dogs. May 24th, 2011.
At the Flatbread Fund Raiser
Photo by Buck Rowlee

(Above) Raven Lundy's INSANE in the barrel view. Photo by Raven Lundy

(Above) Raven Lundy's even crazier in the barrel view. Photo by Raven Lundy.

(Above) From my buddy Tony out west. Photo by Tony Szabo

now the ESPN website too! Wow!

To see it on this site go to the Molly Page.



MEMORIAL DAY May 30, 2011

" An Ode To Joe"



Joe Somogyi was a surfer who named so many of the breaks we all surf today in New Hampshire. He was also a Vietnam Veteran. He served in the 101st Airborne in Nam in 1969-70. He died on May 20, 1978 from exposure to Agent Orange.

Joe was a Bona Fide War Hero. He was awarded the Bronze Star
with a"V" device for valor. The Combat Infantry Badge, the
Purple Heart, and many others.

He was well liked by those who knew and loved him. This clip is a bunch of footage and stills that I shot of Joe back in the 70's. There's also additional stills from other friends, and a clip from Ed O'Connell.

The music is by Jimi...Joe and I loved Jimi...

We Miss You Brother...Rest In Peace.

(Above) All Rise: 10th Street District Court of Surf Justice is now in session, the
Honorable Judge Ralph G. Fatello presiding. CASE #111 BLATANT DROP IN OF
THE WEEK- This week it's one from the Hippie Files
CLICK and SEE this Surf crime and the verdict. Photo courtesy of the Internet

Click above graphic for Daily BLOG or to DONATE to the Fundraiser.

(Above) Oh yea it's real. No photoshop. Photo unknown. COMING NEXT WEEK!

(Above) Same spot. Wanna go? Photo unknown. COMING NEXT WEEK!

(Above) Inside looking out. Photo unknown. COMING NEXT WEEK!

(Above) From the same BIG South Swell that hit last weekend in California.

*Click masthead above to read the original ISM story.

(Above) Put the cursor over the images above to see happens when you DROP in on someone. You become Invisible. Simply put the mouse over the photo to see the
original photo and then marvel at the results of what happens when the criminal
invisible.*Put the cursor over the photo to see the Real image.
Photos via the Internet

Today 2011
"Rest in Peace Brothers..."

(Above) The 2007 Vietnam Veterans Memorial Surf Paddle in San Diego, CA.
Photo by Jim Babwe

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