Staff SGT Donald Wayne West, Jr., enlisted in the United States Army National Guard on September 11, 2001. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Company A of the 150th Combat Engineers served active duty Aug 29, 2004, until Dec 30, 2005. SSGT West returned to college in January, 2006. He married Lauren Ritchie June 9, 2006, at Seaside, Fla., and they have three children. SSGT West completed military service at Camp Minden, LA on Aug 23, 2009.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Day 280 - Flipper Bay and Magnolia Springs

The American flag at the end of our pier has been replaced by a red flag, warning beach bathers of a moderate risk of rip currents today. Serious shell seekers still combed the beaches this morning, searching for sea treasures deposited in sand redistributed by recent hurricanes. My fondest childhood memories are moments like these--waking up to the sound of the surf, smelling the salt air and watching the sun rise over the sand and the waves.

Red flags didn't stop the dolphins from running with us yesterday as we motored around Wolf Bay in a 50-foot navy patrol boat, just outside Foley, AL. Captain Ritchie Rusell of Dolphin Express Cruises tutored us to the tunes of Bob Marley and Jimmy Buffett, teaching us the ways of our water mammal friends. The dolphins must have liked us, too. According to the Captain, our cruise not only produced more dolphin sightings than normal, but it also provided many more jumping dolphins than usual.

Before dancing with the dolphins, we stopped in Magnolia Springs, home of Magnolia Springs Bed & Breakfast. Owner David Worthington is purveyor of classic southern hospitality in this 100-year old home which operated as the Sunnyside Hotel during the 1920s and 30s.
Just up the street is Moore Brothers Village Market, located next door to the former Post Office. The old fashioned neighborhood store was run for 62 years by two Moore nephews: Bill, over the meat market; Jesse, in the store. Longtime residents revere the Moore's longtime traditions of dependability and generosity until the store finally closed in 1993.

Magnolia Springs native Charlie Hauser moved back to his hometown in 1996, after having bought back the family place in 1987.

"One of the Moores co-signed a $500 loan for me to go to college," he recalls. "I never forgot that."

Charlie Hauser re-opened Moore Brothers General Merchandise under the Village Market name in 1998. What started as a meat market expanded to include Jesse's restaurant when the old Post Office property became available. During lunch yesterday, Jesse's was packed with people who have already discovered the elixer of 'love on a platter' served up by the loyal staff at Jesse's.

Having enclosed the space between the market and restaurant, Hauser is now expanding his waiting area to include seated and standing bars, plus five indoor and five outdoor tables for even more casual dining.

Last night's casual dining for our group of journalists was hosed by Chef Greg Buschmohle, owner of Bayside Grille. Before dinner, Alabama Gulf Coast CVB's Public Relations Manager, Bebe Gauntt, presented a gift for Wayne 'in aprreciation for his military sacrifice and service on behalf of the United States.'

"Please tell Wayne how much we value what he is doing, and thank him on behalf of all of us here on the Alabama Gulf Coast," she said. "Congratulations to him and his fiancee on their upcoming marriage, and tell them to come see us soon!"