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by Janet Pattison

BAY COUNTY, FL – Honoring the Past, Restoring the Future. Chief Warrant Officer Joe Theodorou, a 27-year active-duty member of the US Navy, has founded a unique non-profit organization to honor the memory of military personnel, first responders, and their working dogs. The Warrior Memorial Reefs Foundation, based in Bay County, Florida, offers a special watery tribute by incorporating the cremated remains of these heroes into artificial reefs that rebuild the underwater ecosystem.


The concept of using cremated ashes to create artificial reefs was something Theodorou discovered in his travels. “14 years ago, I learned about people who put ashes into concrete to make artificial reefs,” recalls Theodorou. He saw the potential to provide a fitting memorial for those who served their country and communities, as well as their loyal canine companions. The foundation's board comprises five members who work together to make this special service available to those who qualify.


Unlike traditional cemeteries, the Warrior Memorial Reefs Foundation does not require reserving a plot. Families can contact the foundation who will work with them or their funeral home. Families will then receive the GPS coordinates of the artificial reef where their loved one's ashes have been placed. Grave markers are also installed on the reef, which can be seen while diving. Families can further personalize the memorial by placing pieces of live coral on the reef, like flowers on a gravesite, which will grow on the structure.


The Warrior Memorial Reefs Foundation knows your timeline is your own. “We understand that this is a long process, meaning that most families will wait years before planning a proper burial (whether spreading ashes at sea, favorite sporting areas, and/or other specific areas); this is just a unique way to have a known place and do something good for the environment as well”, said Theodorou.


The artificial reef structures built by the foundation are not small; they weigh between 1,500 and 2,000 pounds. To facilitate the creation and deployment of these artificial reefs, the Warrior Memorial Reefs Foundation is seeking support from community members and businesses who can assist with concrete, transport, and heavy lift equipment.


This unique and meaningful way to honor the memory of military personnel, first responders, and their working dogs has already garnered attention and support. The Warrior Memorial Reefs Foundation is dedicated to preserving the legacies of those who have served and protected, providing a lasting tribute to their sacrifices.


For those interested in learning more about the foundation or offering their support, Joe Theodorou can be contacted here: https://www.warriormemorialreefs.org/ . Donations are also gratefully accepted to help the foundation continue its important work.

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Press Release

April 29, 2024


Panama City Beach (April 25, 2024) - Man in the Sea, in partnership with Warrior Memorial Reefs Foundation, will deploy the “Military Divers Memorial” artificial reef on April 30th (weather permitting).


The deployment of the memorial will take place off of the coast of Panama City Beach, FL, and will provide future underwater burials sites to military divers. The ”Military Divers Memorial” will symbolize the final resting place for these fallen warriors, while honoring the past and restoring future ecosystems for the Emerald Coast.


The beautiful “Military Divers Memorial” is the brainchild of Man in the Sea Director, Steve Mulholland, who couldn’t be happier to see his project finally come to fruition. Made of concrete, steel, stainless steels, alloy metals and brass, the memorial weighs approximately 1300 pounds, and stands at a height of 5 feet. The top of the memorial has a brass Mark V diver’s helmet affixed to a column. At the base of the column, a brass plaque reads, “Dedicated to the brave military divers that have served this great country.”


Steve reached out to Warriors Memorial Reefs Foundation to assist with the logistics of executing the deployment of the Military Divers Memorial. We were very honored to support this great opportunity for the Military Diving Community, to continue to honor these great warriors. However, permitting for deployment of artificial reefs can be challenging, but with the assistance of Chantille Weber, Bay County’s Coastal Resource Coordinator, she simplified the process and was able to meet our tight timeframe opportunity. So, we really would like to thank her for that.” said Joe Theodorou Founder and President of Warrior Memorial Reefs Foundation.


The deployment of the Military Divers Memorial comes at an exciting time for both Man in the Sea and Warrior Memorial Reefs Foundation, who have recently partnered to help both 501(c)(3) benefit the Active/ Veteran Dive Community. This is the first of many future deployments.

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Honoring The Past, Restoring the Future


Panama City Beach, FL (April 12, 2024)- Amazing things are about to happen off of the Emerald Coast of Florida, as Warrior Memorial Reefs Foundation announces an exciting partnership with the Man in the Sea Museum. This partnership will not only be beneficial to both 501(c)(3) charities in helping reach veterans and the local diving community; but it will be essential in the deployment of artificial reef memorials.


Warrior Memorial Reefs Foundation creates artificial reefs with the cremated remains of Veterans, First Responders and K-9 Service Dogs.


The Man in the Sea Museum showcases the history and progress of diving and underwater technology.


"The Man in the Sea Museum is honored to work with Warrior Memorial Reefs. Keeping history alive includes honoring our great Veterans and First Responders by ensuring they have a proper, final resting place that is worthy of their call to duty.”, stated Steve Mulholland, Executive Director of Man in the Sea.


Joe Theodorou, the Founder and President of Warrior Memorial Reefs Foundation said, “This is a great opportunity to help advance undersea burials for military divers. I have such great respect for all of the hard work that Steve Mulholland and the staff at Man in the Sea Museum have done in preserving the history of diving; and the relationships that they’ve built within the community.”


Look for more from Warrior Memorial Reefs Foundation and the Man in the Sea, as they will have more to announce within the next few weeks.


For more information and how you can volunteer or donate please visit www.WarriorMemorialReefs.org and/ or www.maninthesea.org , or share them on social media.

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