Four Marines—who served together and bled together in our country’s wars overseas—reunited under a peaceful banner in Costa Rica this past November, as part of the Freedom Alliance Offshore Experience.
Justin is a Marine infantryman who fought in the invasion of Iraq with First Battalion, Second Marines. He then served with Force Reconnaissance and deployed to many of the hotspots in Iraq over the next six years. Derrick and Joe are both active-duty Marines, who have deployed and served diligently over the last 13 years. Tim is a Marine veteran from Montana who deployed four times to Iraq.
Freedom Alliance volunteer John McLean met the four travelers at Juan Santamaría International Airport in San Jose. Justin jokingly described his first several hours in Costa Rica like this: “From the minute we landed, our fine taxi/tour driver John, who’s heavy-footed driving reminded me of NASCAR mixed with a touch of demolition derby, showed us up and down the countryside of Costa Rica… His prowess of backroad shortcuts and the lack of road signage proved true that this adventure was sure to be once in a lifetime.”
As with most of our participants, after arriving at the Los Sueños Resort and Marina, the men were pleasantly shocked at their new digs. Their lodging, which consisted of two top-floor condos, overlooked the landscaped resort and world-class marina. The condos are owned by Gerald and Virginia Lindholm, who have long supported Freedom Alliance. The Lindholms treated the newly arrived Marines to dinner at Al Fresco, an open-air restaurant located alongside the resort’s sprawling pool and beach area, where they enjoyed their first of several Costa Rican sunsets.
The next morning, the Marines invaded the marina, following the docks to the 51-foot G&S yacht Brown Eyed Girl. Owner and Georgia native David Ball was in the cockpit with Captain Curt Lind to greet and welcome our guests onboard in true southern fashion—with a breakfast of grits and eggs. David not only provided breakfast, but generously donated two days of fishing for the four Marines!
As Captain Curt steered the boat out of Herradura Bay, the guys chatted with first mate Sean Harris and deckhand Rafa. As the hum of the engine surged with the cruising speed, the men soaked in the beautiful morning sun, which graced the coastline of mountains and jungles, as well as the sea.
Over the next two days, the men caught sailfish and mahi. Joe caught his first pelagic fish, so as soon as the yacht returned to the marina, Justin good-naturedly tackled him into the water. In a show of solidarity (which we would expect no less from the Marines), the others jumped in too and posed for a group photo, while performing a Marine Recon swimming technique of staying afloat with both hands out of the water.
The following day, the men boarded the 55-foot Kitchell Boatworks custom-designed catamaran, the Costa Cat. Owner Jim Kitchell donated their tickets for the Costa Cat Cruises Isla Tortuga Tour—a full day’s event that includes a short ride out to Isla Tortuga to enjoy the white sands, blue water, and lush palm trees of the island. The Marines enjoyed snorkeling together and riding the banana boat float—some of the included tour activities. Toward the end of the day, a howler monkey showed up to charm us.
That evening, Los Sueños donated a meal at Bambu, an Asian bistro known for their delicious sushi.
After returning home, Justin wrote Freedom Alliance: “The healing powers of Brotherhood are unexplainable, and when you add an environment like Los Sueños, all of the special folks that made it possible for the four of us to be together and rekindle our flames of camaraderie, the results are fruitful and lifelong.”