DESTIN, Fla. (WMBB) — Scuba divers from across the country are in town for Memorial Day weekend.
Sitting five miles off the coast of Destin is the memorial reef.
“Memorial reef is a rock that we have down at 85 feet and then we place a flag down there,” said Greg McGrath, dive instructor.
Emerald Coast Scuba in Destin created the site in 2018. Every year, divers take an American flag to fly underwater for 365 days.
“It’s great for divers. All our divers are going to be veterans. So all the flags signify important meanings and we only put flags down that whole important values have been in countries or on caskets,” said McGrath.
In 2022, the flag for Army Soldier Jesse Dietrich was placed at the site. Dietrich was killed in action in 2011 in Afghanistan. This year the flag was brought up with new life growing.
“It looks like they’ve been down there for about 10 years, so they hold very good life on it, including the reef as well. The memorial rock holds good life on it. The flags just come up like they’ve actually been through something so it’s really awesome,” said McGrath.
On Memorial Day 2023, 38 divers including two gold star families will head to the site to place a new flag to fly.
“This new flag was flown over a C.O.P. in Afghanistan, where they had about 10 K.I.A’s, so it holds a lot of value for a lot of military members around the area and it just signifies that we still support the troops,” said McGrath.
Emerald Coast Scuba partners with Task Force Poseidon to host the dive free of charge to veterans.
Task force Poseidon works with military members to become scuba certified around the panhandle.