On Sunday, Nov. 11, the Florida Keys will pause to honor veterans’ service to our country. Some are homegrown who have returned to the Keys and picked up the threads of work and family. Others have chosen to move to the Keys and start a new life. Thank you for your service.
Join local veterans on Sunday, Nov. 11 for the annual Veterans Day Parade. Participants will line up at 20th Street (former entrance to Boot Key Bridge) starting at 10 a.m. The parade will begin at 11 a.m. and travel north on U.S.1 turning left on 107th Street and left again on Aviation Blvd., ending at the DAV building. The public is encouraged to enter a vehicle/float or come out to watch. For more details, please call the American Legion Post 154 at 305-743-4783 and leave your name and telephone number.
Corbin Hradecky, 29
Hometown: Beaver, Pennsylvania
In the Keys: since 2013
Corbin Hradecky can be found usually in his patrol car all over town as a deputywith Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, but before he called the Keys home, he traveled to Afghanistan, Latvia, Romania, Ireland, Germany and Australia as a corporal in the Marines. “But my favorite place to hang out would be Sparky’s Landing,” he said. “Hats off to owners Matt and Carolyn Anthony; great people and very supportive of our armed forces.” He enlisted at 18 and cherishes the brotherhood and the bond he formed with his fellow squad mates and service members.
Jean E. Prosper, 37
Hometown: Miami, Florida
Family: Married with four kids
Jean Prosper works in the beautiful city of Marathon for the fire department and loves his B-shift schedule. He was honorably discharged in 2008 after enlisting at 18 years old. “I traveled a lot within the United States,” he said, “and deployed to Vicenza, Italy.” He stays in contact with a few of his brothers from service, and “enjoyed the friends I made and the teamwork it took to accomplish missions.”
“Working with the finest men and women our nation has to offer” is what kept Marathon City Manager Chuck Lindsey in the U.S. Coast Guard for 24 years. He was stationed from Alaska to the Keys, Central America, the Middle East, Africa and Japan. Now he enjoys fishing with his son Bosun, 6, when not at City Hall.
Jim Griffith, 52
Hometown: Tampa, Florida
Branch: Coast Guard
Family: A daughter
In the Keys: since 1991
When Jim Griffith isn’t working at public works, he spendshis time mostly on the water, fishing and diving. He spent time at several stations around the U.S. and all over the Caribbean and as far as Columbia and Panama on Law Enforcement Detachment. He enlisted at 17 for five years and loved handling the boats and being deployed on U.S. Navy ships performing drug interdiction operations. He and his crew also handled search and rescue cases.
After graduating for Marathon High School at 18, Mike Card enlisted with the 75th Rangers of the 39th “Rat Patrol,” where he quickly added “hooah.” For four years, he gained confidence in what he could and couldn’t do. Things like jumping out of airplanes came easy to him. “It pushed me to unbelievable boundaries,” he said. “It was a great place to start as an 18-year-old.” When he isn’t at Marathon Fire Department, he can be found on the water with his wife Brandi, having fun fishing and diving the beautiful waters of the Caribbean.(He lost his military pictures when he lost his house in Hurricane Irma. “They are somewhere in the canal,” he said.)
Tom Wright, 68
Hometown: Toledo, Ohio
Branch: U.S. Navy JAG Corps
Family: wife Barbara, and three children, David, Courtney, and Natalie
In the Keys: since 1976
Attorney Tom Wright is one of Marathon’s “Few Good Men”and he got his start in law with 29 years in the U.S. Navy JAG Corps. His first orders to Key West in January 1976 solidified that the Keys would one day be his permanent home. He’s been called to Newport, R.I., Norfolk, Va., Seattle, Japan and many other places, and keeps in contact with many of the friends he has made over the years.
Birthdate: May 24, 1972.
Hometown: Key Largo.
Family: Wife and four kids.
When did you move into the Keys? December of 1983.
Where do you spend your time in the Keys, or where can you be spotted around town? Lately, tirelessly volunteering at the VFW.
Service branch: Marines.
Rank at discharge: Major.
Unit: Special Ops training group III MEF.
Years of enlistment: enlisted for a year and commissioned officer for 20.
How old were you at enlistment? 24.
When did you return home? Returned January of 2017.
What places, near and far, did the service take you? Thailand, Okinawa, Guam, Saipan, Korea, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq, Kuwait, South Korea, Hawaii, Midway Island, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan.
What happened while you were away? A lot of folks moved away. Parents and parents’ friends passed away. A lot more houses have been built.
What do you remember the most? Friendship and camaraderie and adventure.
Do you keep in contact with anyone you served with? Yes.
Birthdate: November 11, 1944.
Hometown: Royal Oak, Michigan.
Family: Sister in North Carolina who was a school teacher in Key Largo for 13 years. She retired from the school system in North Carolina.
When did you move into the Keys? I came here on a visit on February of 1971. Had a new daughter and a new wife and came here and ran out of money.
Where do you spend your time in the Keys, or where can you be spotted around town? Behind a cement truck.
Service: Joined Marines November 10, 1965. Served in Vietnam in 1966-67. Had two birthdays in Vietnam, 22 and 23.
Service branch: Marines.
Rank at discharge: Corporal E4.
Unit: Headquarters Squadron First Marine Air Wing.
Years of enlistment: November of 1965 until November 1971. Active three years, three years reserve.
How old were you at enlistment? 21.
When did you return home? I don’t think I have yet.
What places, near and far, did the service take you? Southern California, Southeast Asia, Malaysia, and back to Southern California.
What happened while you were away? The country changed. There were major changes during the years of 1967 and 1968. That’s when the riots started and rebellions.
What do you remember the most? My friend recently asked me the same question. He and I had the same answer: The smell.
Do you keep in contact with anyone you served with? Yes, only for the last few years. It was 20-something years before I could contact anybody.
Birthdate: July 30, 1948.
Hometown: Long Beach, N.Y.
Family: Wife and three sons, five grandchildren.
When did you move into the Keys? Back in 1990 when I built my house.
Where do you spend your time in the Keys, or where can you be spotted around town? A lot of times the fire department; it’s a big part of my life.
Service branch: Army.
Rank at discharge: Sergeant E5.
Unit: 100st Airborne Division, team leader.
Years of enlistment: 1968-70.
How old were you at enlistment? 19.
When you returned home? 1970.
What places, near and far, did the service take you? Bien Hoa and Phu Bai.
What happened while you were away? I saw a lot of mistrust for the soldiers from the American public. I came home and was treated like I was a baby killer.
What do you remember the most? Doing my job, anxious to get home and counting the days. You marked off the days and you knew how many days you had left.
Do you keep in contact with anyone you served with? No.