Last June, we told you about the effort to restore a United States Army Captain’s boat and to surprise Captain David Biemer with it when he returned from active duty this fall. It was called Operation Restoration (Operation Bring Biemer’s Boat Back) and the driving force behind bringing the boat back to life was Biemer’s brother in law, Scott Hawkins.
On September 20 at the Tilted Kilt in Scottsdale, Ariz., a capacity crowd was on hand to see Biemer’s reaction when he saw the boat for the first time. “It pretty much broke me down,” said the 40-year-old Biemer. “It really restores your faith in humanity. For Scotty to go out of his way to do something like this is completely like him.”
Earlier this year, Biemer, who has been serving his country for the last 20 years in in the United States Marine Corps and the U.S. Army, had returned from deployment to Texas for his father’s funeral to find the boat that he had paid a local yard to take care of sitting uncovered under a tree.
Biemer took the 1993 Caravelle Interceptor home, pledging to restore the boat so he could use it with his wife Monica and daughters, Lola, Noella and Mila. He was deployed again so the hopes to restore the boat were put on the back burner.
Hawkins enlisted Bryan Letterly, a dragboat racer who has experience in large-scale fundraisers, to help make Operation Restoration a reality. Letterly put together an effort on www.fundraiser.com (Operation Bring Biemer’s Boat Back). They raised close to $20,000 and got a trailer from Kokopelli Trailers. Mesa Boat Restoration restored the boat’s interior, Auto Culture took care of the engine, while Brandon Larson of Bytour Custom Truck repaired the drive. Paul Gullo and Hula Products revived the exterior.
While all this work was taking place, Biemer said he got a phone call in Kuwait that his wife and girls were in an accident with a cement mixer in the family’s Dodge Durango. “I spent the next 20 hours on a plane with no knowledge,” said Biemer.
He got home on a Friday and after finding out his family was OK, he got in touch with Hawkins who had some chores for the two of them to do. Biemer calls Hawkins “a brother” and doesn’t think twice if he asks a favor. They went to Hawkins’ house and trimmed some trees away from the power lines. Biemer is an electrician by trade and the two headed out to pick up a ceiling fan for Hawkins’ patio.
Hawkins told Biemer after their errand that they were going to Tilted Kilt in Scottsdale to meet Hawkins’ dad and get some lunch. There was a large crowd in the restaurant and Biemer was catching up with old friends.
“I’m sitting there talking with Scotty and my back was to the parking lot and I could hear a truck honking and I saw the boat out of the corner of my eye,” said Biemer. “I said, ‘That’s my boat and I couldn’t believe it. I was like, ‘You’re kidding me.”
He explained, “When we deploy, we leave and go to Mars. As much as the world is connected, we don’t get a picture of what goes on back home so what we do to pass the time, we disassemble the boats and cars in our heads and what I was going to work on, the little rust spots, the paint flakes, it was like holy crap, somebody fixed that. They brought my mind’s eye and made it a reality.”
Biemer did get a chance to sit in his Caravelle in the parking lot, and he was hoping to get it out on the water in the second week of October.