A former marine wants to make sure local soldiers cherish their two-week leaves from Afghanistan and Iraq. Captain John Bunch, of Saint James City, had an idea: get businesses to donate services… from rounds of golf to fishing trips—even a wedding on the Gulf! Then, let soldiers and their families enjoy themselves. Dubbed “Operation Open Arms,” Captain Bunch says the idea is taking off… more business owners are donating products and services.
“We want to set a model in Lee County as perhaps the best place to be from if you’re an American serviceperson back on a specific leave. When you come home here, you and your family can go to restaurants. All you have to do is show your military ID, your two week specific leave papers, and you’re treated with open arms from all the angels that have involved themselves in this program.”
Captain Bunch is a fishing guide and host of a local fishing television show. The idea for “Operation Open Arms” came to him when a young Army soldier recognized him… and expressed an interest in going fishing while he was home from Iraq. Bunch obliged… then realized the concept had more potential. The concept has apparently caught the attention of Governor Jeb Bush and Congressman Connie Mack. The website—for soldiers and interested businesses—is virtuallyparadise.com.
Tuesday, 26 April 2005 01:00