Author Archives: Brenda - Admin

Operation Open Arms Presents USMC Fallen Hero Medallion

On Saturday May 26, 2012, OOA Founder Captain John Bunch presented the United States Marine Corp Fallen Hero Medallion to Mr. and Mrs. Murray at the Pink Shell Resort on Fort Myers Beach. Captain Bunch wrote:

“It was my honor and privilege to present the USMC Fallen Hero Medallion to the parents of Cpl Brandon Jeremy Murray of Cape Coral at 10AM this morning. Corporal Murray was a highly decorated US Marine who had distinguished himself as a brave and trusted warrior. 5 US Marines who served with Brandon in Afg were there to pay tribute. A part of me was taken away with Brandon today. God bless him, his family, and the USMC. Semper Fi”

Fort Myers Weekly Bestows “Best Of’ Honor to OOA

From the Fort Myers Florida Weekly, May 2012 “Best Of 2011” List

OOA Founder Best Do-Gooder

Fishing guide and Capt. John “Giddy-up” Bunch’s seven-year effort to give troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan weddings, honeymoons, vacations, fishing trips and joy at no charge — a form of thanks — is unprecedented. Now also a licensed pastor, these days Capt. Bunch can perform weddings himself by land, air and sea (and why not? He’s a former Marine Corps officer, after all). More than 150 businesses in the region support his effort, but more support is always better support. You can find him at

Not Your Usual “Best Of” List

Typical “Best of” sections in local newspapers require merchants to buy ads to have their names placed on the ballot. No ad, no chance to win.

That’s not their style here at Florida Weekly. They created a Best of Lee County that was fun, entertaining and untainted (for the most part) by commerce. They set out to create a list that captured the character or our unique area with the kind of flair you’ve come to expect from that publication. Read the full best of list winners here.

Parrot Key Grill Helps OOA Recover from Arson’s Fire

From the Fort Myers Beach Periodical the Sandpiper January 2012,
Parrot Key Caribbean Grill and Big Game Waterfront Grill Give a Helping Hand to Operation Open Arms

Parrot Key Caribbean Grill and Big Game Waterfront Grill of Fort Myers Beach gave a helping hand to Operation Open Arms this week by donating $1,000 in gift cards to be used in assisting service personnel. Operation Open Arms had been storing their donated items at the Pine Island Chamber until a recent fire that completely destroyed the Chamber office.

“When we learned of the fire last week we called Captain John Bunch, the head of Operation Open Arms and offered our donation”, said Justin Hall, Operations Manager for the two restaurants. “We are proud to support Operation Open Arms and give back in to our U.S. Troops who are visiting our area. I would encourage all of the restaurants in the area to participate with us in this worthwhile endeavor!”

“Parrot Key is a great place to come and enjoy the waterfront view, have a fantastic meal and leave the real world behind for a short time! We feel honored to share a little piece of our paradise with these service personnel and their families”, says Brian DeMartinis, General Manager at Parrot Key.
Operation Open Arms, a nationally acclaimed military outreach program founded in 2005, is a network of business owners and individuals in Florida who work to provide eligible service personnel and their families with a no cost combat leave vacation. Local businesses have worked with Operation Open arms to help over 2,000 service personnel here locally and have donated the goods and services for 90 weddings. “The thing that makes Operation Open Arm such a success is a core group of 100 businesses that have joined together to support this cause and Salty Sam’s is one of our largest contributors”, said Joseph Fossella, Advisory Board Member.

Display The Operation Open Arms Badge!

Help us spread the word and let your online visitors know you are making a difference for active duty service men and women at the same time. We invite you to post an Operation Open Arms Badge on your web site and link back to us.

Just right-click to download this OOA support badge and link the image to or add a text link to us on your web site anywhere you please.

Thank you for your continued support!

Operation Open Arms Provides Local Couple a Romantic Beach Wedding

Thanks to Pink Shell Resort and many other local contributors, Operation Open Arms was able to provide a local couple a free sunset wedding on Fort Myers Beach this past weekend. This celebratory event for Mr. and Mrs. Lopez was also a celebration of Operation Open Arms’ 90th free wedding.

Gabriel’s beautiful bride was working in an area Publix when she ran into Operation Open Arms founder, Captain John GiddyUp Bunch.

He gave me his card, told me to call him to get a charter fishing trip together when my boyfriend gets home from Afghanistan, instead he gave us a wedding.

View the Fox 4 News Coverage of Gabriel and Caitlyn Lopez’ wedding here.

Read the Cape Coral Breeze Article on this Fairy Tale Wedding here.

Mourning a Loss: Daniel Beougher

The family of Daniel Beougher mourns his loss during a press conference on Monday, Dec. 10. Lauren Beougher shares thoughts on the loss of her husband, Army Sgt. Daniel Beougher, who lost his life in a Dec. 8 hit-and-run accident.

Following the death of an Iraq war veteran who died in a hit-and-run crash in North Fort Myers, Captain John “GiddyUp” Bunch was determined to strengthen current state legislation, making it a misdemeanor to lend a vehicle to a person with a suspended driver license. He approached Sen. Burt Saunders, R-Naples, asking that a one-year license suspension, with the possibility of jail time, be added to the law.


Operation Open Arms and Pink Shell Resort Host 6 Weddings

Veteran’s Day, 11-11-11, and Six Weddings on Fort Myers Beach, Florida

Operation Open Arms and the Pink Shell Resort hosted six weddings on Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2011.  Fox 4 News reports on the joyous occasion in this video link.



Operation Open Arms Wedding, September 2011

Operation Open Arms received this letter from a local military Mom and we are gathering donations and contributors for this service family wedding in Southwest Florida. The wedding will be early September, 2011. Please help us help this military family now – click here to donate.

My daughter living in North Carolina has no support system. Leaving her home sick and her husband has been deployed to Afghanistan until August. She has been feeling extremly stressed since he left and we hope that a trip back home would destress her. Unfortantly we don’t have the money to send her back home. She has expierenced finical hardships and unable to find a job she needs a break. Bringing her back her back home will help her catch up with her bills and provide time for her to be with her family.

When she’s back here she would like to plan her wedding. With that in mind she would like an outdoor wedding surrounded by trees, away from the beach, and she would prefer the reception at home. She would like to have the reception at home so no one would worry about losing the reception hall or things not going according to plan. We also don’t know what the exact date he would come home, since we don’t know the exact date.

For her honey moon she has no ideal place she would like to spend it as long as it is quiet.

Kevin is stationed at unit
CLB 8 TS Co.
Unit 73762
FBO AE 09510-3762
His unit is from Fort Lejeune.

Thank you, Elke Quinn

US Marines Land on Fort Myers Beach – Operation Open Arms Sponsors Retreat

From the Fort Myers Beach Talk, July 30 2011

Operation Open Arms has done it again. Since 2005, Founder John “Giddy-Up” Bunch has enabled U.S. service men and women visiting Southwest Florida to received benefits during their combat leave or return from foreign duty.

Besides countless weddings, OOA has reached out to area businesses in Lee County and helped provide R&R to those who protect this great country of ours.

That was the case last week with three Marines who refer to each other as “life brothers” -Doug Meyer from Cape Coral, Jose Isa, who grew up in Tampa, and Mike Piro, a native of the Bronx, New York.

The three “team leaders” had just returned from eight months spent in “mud huts” where they were stationed in the “middle of nowhere” in the same platoon in Afghanistan. All three were riflemen in an infantry battalion.

Meyer was on his second tour. His first was in Iraq.

“We got helo’ed (helicopter) in, stayed in mud huts, then we moved around four times and pushed the Taliban back and out of the area and set up location from there,” he said about his recent experience overseas.

Meyer almost lost his life when Taliban forces shot at him. A bullet ricocheted off his riflescope causing cuts and bruises.

“We were fighting for about an hour that day on one of my last missions. I came around the corner with my rifle up when a bullet hit my scope. I guess it curved just enough to go right past my face. All the shrapnel from the scope peppered my face,” he said.

Luckily, Meyer was wearing protective eyewear. At first he thought he was hit in the face. When he found out he wasn’t shot, he got up and started firing again.

“It didn’t blind me, and all I had was a couple of scratches. The scope pretty much saved my life,” he said.

Meyer admitted to never having heard about Operation Open Arms before his mother told him about the organization, its founder and benefits military personnel have received while back overseas deployments.

“My mom told me that he loved the fact that we were infantry men,” said Meyer. Bunch, a professional fishing guide based out of St. James City, is a former Marine as well.

“These three kids are the real deal,” he said. “They were 75 to 100 yards away from the fighting. They are quite exceptional young men.”

Cape Coral’s Kim Meyer first heard about OOA when she was registering her son’s license at a division of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

“When I was renewing his tag, someone mentioned OOA does things for military personnel when they return from deployment. Shortly after I saw an article about a wedding OOA had done. So, I looked online, saw a great website with person after person relating what a great program it is, and I contacted (Bunch),” she said.

Kim said she didn’t have anything specific to set up and just relayed information about her son and his two friends. Bunch asked about their interests and recommended the Beach.

“He had a great idea and went with it,” she said. “For the past month, we have been in constant contact. He has been so supportive and so positive. It’s given me something to focus on. He’s just been great.”

That’s when OOA’s family of sponsors came to bat once again.

During their Beach hospitality, the three Marines enjoyed free resort stays. From July 24-26, they stayed at Pink Shell Resort. It was followed by three days at Silver Sands Resort.

“The Marines also enjoyed a fishing trip with Captain Kenny aboard the Sea Trek at the docks of Bonita Bill’s Waterfront Cafe on Tuesday, July 26. The inclement weather didn’t slow them down, either, as they reported to catch grouper and snapper during the trip.

“I grew up around boats, but I haven’t been fishing in a long time. It was a great time. It brought back a lot of memories,” said Doug.

After dining at LeeRoy Selmon’s Restaurant in Fort Myers earlier in the week, the Marines were treated to dinner at Matanzas Inn Restaurant and Parrot Key Caribbean Grill. They also threw out the first pitches at a ballgame as guests of the Fort Myers Miracle.

Throughout the week, Meyer was in constant communication with Bunch.

“He’ll text me and tell me, ‘this is your next mission,'” joked Meyer. “Then he’ll let us know where we should meet. He has everything planned out, and he speaks in military time.”

Bunch hopes more businesses will open up their hearts to these brave young men. While some businesses do provide a service, OOA has to chip in so that other family members can enjoy the benefits with them. It’s hard to say “no” sometimes.

“We really have to watch our pennies during these tough economic times. I hope the organization’s account doesn’t dry up,” said Bunch.

The benefits have not gone unnoticed.

“It’s so nice that they think about these men. They are really proud of our guys,” said Kim.

Now that their oversees tours are over, the three Marines will be stationed in the states. Meyer will be at Marine Base Camp LeJeune in North Carolina for training purposes to finish his military career.

“Everyone has made us feel really appreciated here,” said Doug. “It’s a great feeling to come back and know that people care and want you to relax, kick back and have a good time. We appreciate it a lot.”

NBC Today Show Features OOA’s Unique Approach to PTSD