Divers remember the fallen with underwater tribute

Devon Ravine

For the past few years Emerald Coast Scuba and the Destin-based nonprofit Task Force Poseidon has been taking military veterans and active-duty troops out for a tribute dive in the Gulf of Mexico on Memorial Day. This year that dive had a concrete destination, literally. 

On the Friday before Memorial Day, Emerald Coast Scuba dive instructor Jason Dodd and a group of volunteers loaded an approximately 750-pound concrete monument onto the the back of the Aquanaut dive boat. From there, the group traveled about three miles offshore to drop the monument in 80 to 90 feet of water. 

The four-sided concrete monument features laser-etched plaques bearing the seals of the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy, as well as tributes to veterans and those who gave their lives in service of the country. 

On Memorial Day, Dodd, an Army veteran himself, lead a group of veterans and active-duty military personnel on a dive down to the memorial, where they placed an American flag. 

"We have a lot of veterans, amputees and paraplegics, that we're getting in the water and certified to dive," Dodd said. "Scuba diving is what we do, and this is just a very special and unique way for us to go out and honor our fallen."