PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — The underwater memorial in Clearwater that honors our veterans was cleaned on Thursday.
Eight veterans flew in from all across the country and spent the past two days detailing the 12 life-size military statues that make up the Circle of Heroes.
“We’ve been basically cleaning the monument and helping to ensure that the reef stays vibrant and healthy,” said Joshua Grzywa, president of Deep Sea Valkyries. “We go down there we clean off some of the softer buildup of algae while allowing the healthy corals to grow.”
The Circle of Heroes, located roughly 10 miles off the shore of Clearwater at a depth of 40 feet, is the nation’s first underwater dive memorial honoring the men and women serving in the United States Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy.
“For all of us who have served in combat, it’s a humbling experience to see a statue that is a reflection of someone that gave their life and service to their country,” said Grzywa. “To go through all the work to put all these statues down there…it’s something else.”
The veterans that did the cleaning are part of Deep Sea Valkyries, an Arizona-based non-profit that helps veterans with PTSD by introducing them to activities like scuba diving.
“We had a total of eight veterans with us on this trip. My organization hosts week-long retreats where we provide trauma counseling and conduct a variety of marine-based activities,” said Grzywa. “The individuals that joined us were representative of multiple year groups of participants that all came together. So for some, this was a reunion and for others, it was an opportunity to meet other veterans from other year groups.”
To learn more about Deep Sea Valkyries, visit their website.