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Honor Veterans and First Responders with Unique Burial at Sea

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: . Donations are also gratefully accepted to help the foundation continue its important work.

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