Friday, April 7, 2017

Palm Beach Social Diary: Bang! Bling! Pow! Boom!

Medal of Honor recipient Navy SEAL Senior Chief Edward C. Byers Jr. and his wife Madison were guests at the Palm Beach Navy Seal Evening of Tribute benefit held at Mar-a-Lago that raised $1.5 million to aid the Naval Special Warfare community, their families, the fallen, the wounded, and the veterans. Special Chief Byers has eleven overseas deployments and nine combat tours, awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Commendation Medals, Combat Action Medal, and a Good Conduct Medal. He is the 11th service member to receive the Medal of Honor for bravery in the Afghanistan conflict.
Bang! Bling! Pow! Boom!
Mar-a-Lago hosts Navy SEAL benefit

By Augustus Mayhew

With Palm Beach bracing for the POTUS45 and President  Xi Jinping summit meeting on South Ocean Boulevard, more than 700 staunch supporters of the Navy SEALs began the countdown before road closures, detours, and the like, by attending Monday night's Third Biennial Evening of Tribute held at Mar-a-Lago. On what was the warmest April 3 in more than 50 years, guests honored the dedication and sacrifice the SEALs and their families make in defending our nation. In appreciation, members of the elite corps and their combat-trained dogs staged a multi-dimensional demonstration with Mar-a-Lago as a backdrop.  The SEALS enactment of a sniper shooting included a descent rappelling from a helicopter and SEALs arriving from the Intracoastal Waterway with their working dogs, complete with boom-booms, bang-bangs and clouds of smoke. Rebecca Williams and her co-chairmen put together a significant event, superbly choreographed and executed. Bravo!

The 2017 Navy SEAL Evening of Tribute's most generous donors included: Martha and Peter Morse, Jeanne and David Rosow, Karen and Elliot Hershberg, Heidi Greene and Michael Kluger, Kathryn and Rush Limbaugh, Mac and Mary McCormack, Margie and Steve O'Neil, Carroll Carpenter, Vic Damone, Lotsie and Rick Holton, Michelle and Howard Kessler, Cathleen MacFarlane Foundation, Gisele Coutinho and Lawrence Moens, Matthew and Tracy Smith Foundation, Susan and Dom Telesco, Nancy and Bob Wildrick, Jane and Dean Woodman, Elaine and Ken Langone, and Peggy and Dudley Moore.
Proceeds from the event benefit the Navy Seal Foundation and the National Navy Museum/Trident House. The foundation provides immediate and ongoing assistance to the Naval Special Warfare community and their families. Its work is focused on five goals: warrior support and family services, educational opportunities, tragedy assistance, and survivor support. These programs strengthen the force and family, offer comfort in times of adversity or loss, provide care for our wounded and their caregivers, and help veterans transition to civilian life.
Rebecca Williams, chairman.
Bob Wildrick and Nancy Wildrick, co-chairman of the benefit.
Marjorie McCloskey-O'Neil, co-chairman of the event, and Marie Deppen.
Jane Woodman, co-chairman of the event.
Mar-a-Lago Club, embroidered logo.
Cocktail Reception
Great Lawn at Mar-a-Lago
Guests gathered on Mar-a-Lago's Great Lawn along the Intracoastal Waterway.
Standing guard.
As guests arrived, local Navy ROTC, young Marines, ROTC, and Sea Cadets formed a reception line.
Guests motored down to the Great Lawn.
There was a diverse range of transports.
Active Navy SEALs joined guests for the reception.
View from the Waterway looking east toward Mar-a-Lago's lakeside elevation.
David and Jeanne Rosow.
Toni and Bob Garrison with their son Brooks Garrison, left.
Danielle Moore, president pro-tem of the Palm Beach Town Council.
Jeff and Carly Spengler.
Bill and Patt Sned.
Cynthia and Richard Callahan.
K. K. and Joe Sullivan.
Peggy Moore and Hillie Mahoney.
Julie and Mike Connors.
Cathy Duemler.
Michelle Henry and Gary Lickle.
Sarah Fabrizio. Barbara Kaiser.
Tony and Annette Dowell.
Melinda Hassen. Jeanne Tisbo.
Local cadet corps provided support for the Navy SEAL event, keeping guests safe.
Ken Lee, president of the Navy League-Palm Beach Council, and Jan Yang. Guests wore an array of accessories.
Major-General Wayne Jackson and his wife Lahoma Jackson.
Peter and Jane Elebash.
Tim Johnson and Fernando Wong.
Susan Keenan, Bob Wright, and Derrick Davis.
Rhoda Kleid and Dick Kleid, three-term president of the Palm Beach Town Council.
Guests sought respite from the record-breaking heat.
Vice-Admiral Robert S. Harward, Jr., SEAL (Ret.) and Lt. Jason Redman, SEAL (Ret) were special guests.
The helicopter pad for POTUS45 is at the ready.
Following the cocktail reception, the SEALS prepared for their demonstration.
A Navy SEAL preparing for the demonstration.
"Working dog. Do not pet."
Presentation of the Colors
Local Navy ROTC cadets introduced the presentation of colors.
Guests gathered for the Pledge, the National Anthem and the Retiring of Colors..
Saluting the colors.
Navy SEAL Demonstration
Great Lawn at Mar-a-Lago
Dean and Jane Woodman underwrote the SEAL's exhibition staged on the Great Lawn during the Evening of Tribute.
Ready to descend from the chopper.
The SEALs entrap the sniper.
Back-up troops on the way.
Supporting forces arrive from the lakefront with their combat dogs.
The dogs are well-trained.
Guests have iPhones at the ready.
The SEALS capture the sniper.
Palm Beach society's frontline gains a close-up of the simulated skirmish.
Dinner
Ballroom at The Mar-a-Lago Club
The staff set up the ballroom as guests gathered on the Great Lawn.
The Missing Man Table was set up in the center of the Ballroom Lobby, recognizing a place of honor for the fallen, the missing-in-action.
Mar-a-Lago Ballroom Lobby, mirror.
The cadets formed a double line at the entrance to the Ballroom.
Gerry Goldsmith and Rita Okun.
Guests were greeted in the lobby before entering the Ballroom.
Mar-a-Lago Ballroom, east windows.
Mar-a-Lago Ballroom. Guests found their tables.
Sarah and Bernard Gewirz. A pleasure being seated next to Washingtonians Sarah and Bernard. Also, at table, Susan Keenan, Bob Wright, George and Susan Cohon, and Michelle Henry and Gary Lickle.
Mark Kendall served as the evening's master of ceremonies.
Derrick Davis sang God Bless America.
The Ballroom features ample light.
The length of the 20,000 square-foot Ballroom, looking east.
Navy SEALs stood and their service was acknowledged.
Dick Robinson received a special commendation for his longtime support.
Table centerpieces were globes with lights representing where the Navy SEALS are an active presence.
The benefit was the largest in the group's history. "Our duty tonight is to let them know of our deep appreciation for their service, to honor their valor, and to express our gratitude for their dedication protecting us and the Country we love." – Rebecca Williams, chairman.
During dinner National Medal of Honor recipient Edward C. Byers Jr. proposed a toast to his fallen brothers and Gold Star families.
"The deed is all; not the glory" For further information contact The Navy SEAL Museum and The Navy SEAL Foundation.
Photography by Augustus Mayhew.

Augustus Mayhew is the author of Palm Beach-A Greater Grandeur