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Our Mission

To increase awareness of law enforcement officers, other first responders and military service members who died in the line of duty, as well as raise funds to provide relief to their surviving family members

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About Us

Operation Deep Blue is an annual long-distance sea kayak expedition conducted to increase awareness of law enforcement officers, other first responders and military service members who died in the line of duty, as well as raise funds to provide relief to their surviving family members. 

Over an eight day period, the Operation Deep Blue team paddles approximately 225 miles from Fort Mott State Park in Pennsville, NJ to Washington, DC.  In addition to honoring all law enforcement officers, other first responders and military service members who died in the line of duty, each Operation Deep Blue team member selects an individual hero, who made the ultimate sacrifice, to honor throughout the expedition. 


In preparation for the expedition, the team trains year-round to include paddling throughout the winter in sub-freezing temperatures.  During the expedition, the team’s skills, physical endurance, mental toughness and commitment to honoring our fallen heroes are tested as they paddle as many as 10 hours each day in a variety of challenging and rapidly changing conditions. 

The 2021 Operation Deep Blue expedition is scheduled for September 4th - 11th.  The team is comprised of active, retired and former law enforcement and military personnel from various federal, state, county and local agencies. The Operation Deep Blue Board of Directors and team members serve in a 100% volunteer capacity, receiving zero compensation, and invest hundreds of hours each year in preparing for and participating in the expedition.

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2020 Honorees


Vicky O. Armel


Fairfax County P.D. (VA)

End of Watch:  5/8/2006

Age:  40

Years of Service:  17


Michael J. Goble

Sergeant First Class

U.S. Army Special Forces

End of Watch:  12/23/2019

Age:  33

Years of Service:  15


Breann Leath


Indianapolis Metro P.D. (IN)

End of Watch:  4/9/2020

Age:  24

Years of Service:  3


Kenneth G. VonRonn


U.S. Army

End of Watch:  1/6/2005

Age:  20

Years of Service:  2

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Richard Mark Bremer

Police Officer

Frederick City P.D. (MD)

End of Watch:  10/23/2008

Age:  39

Years of Service:  5


Alex Graham

Firefighter Technician

Washington, DC Fire & EMS

End of Watch:  10/27/2019

Age:  48

Years of Service:  17

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John J. McKenna IV

Captain - U.S. Marine Corps & Trooper - NY State Police

End of Watch:  8/16/2006

Age:  30

Years of Service:  8 USMC & 1 NYSP


Kevin Joseph Welsh

Police Officer

Metropolitan P.D. (DC)

End of Watch:  8/4/86

Age:  34

Years of Service:  7


Mary Ann Collura

Police Officer

Fair Lawn P.D. (NJ)

End of Watch:  4/17/2003

Age:  43

Years of Service:  18


Waldis Johnson

Police Officer

Detroit P.D. (MI)

End of Watch:  5/31/2020

Age:  48

Years of Service:  17


Stephen Matthew Mills

Chief Petty Officer

U.S. Navy SEAL

End of Watch:  8/6/2011

Age:  35

Years of Service:  14


William G. Fearon


New Jersey State Police

End of Watch:  12/28/2016

Age:  49

Years of Service:  22


Vincent A. Julia

Patrol Officer

Delaware River & Bay Authority P.D. (DE)

End of Watch:  2/9/1996

Age:  27

Years of Service:  2


John Charles Samra

Police Officer

Clifton P.D. (NJ)

End of Watch:  11/21/2003

Age:  41

Years of Service:  15


Michael E. Garbarino

Master Police Officer

Fairfax County P.D. (VA)

End of Watch:  5/17/2006

Age:  53

Years of Service:  23


Philip Joseph Lamonaco

Trooper II

New Jersey State Police

End of Watch:  12/21/1981

Age:  32

Years of Service:  11


Joseph Alan Seals


Jersey City P.D. (NJ)

End of Watch:  12/10/2019

Age:  40

Years of Service:  18

2019 Honorees


Vincent Brock


Paramus P.D. (NJ)

End of Watch:  11/22/1993

Age:  39

Years of Service:  12


Eric O. Meier


Crawford P.D. (NY)

End of Watch:  9/17/2015

Age:  51

Years of Service:  26


John G. Coughlin


New York City P.D.

End of Watch:  9/11/2001

Age:  43

Years of Service:  18


Tamby Yagan

Police Officer

Paterson P.D. (NJ)

End of Watch:  4/22/2018

Age:  41

Years of Service:  13


John M. Falcone


Poughkeepsie City P.D. (NY)

End of Watch: 2/18/2011

Age: 44

Years of Service:  18


Joseph Franklin


Roxbury P.D. (NJ)

End of Watch:  5/11/2016

Age:  57

Years of Service:  25

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Christopher Goodell

Police Officer

Waldwick P.D. (NJ)

End of Watch: 7/17/2014

Age: 32

Years of Service:  6


Board of Directors

 Thomas G. Hauck

Thomas G. Hauck is the founder of Operation Deep Blue and currently serves as a federal law enforcement executive with over 21 years of experience. Prior to his law enforcement career, Thomas served in the United States Marine Corps as an enlisted infantryman and intelligence officer. 

Guy Shields
Executive Board 

Guy Shields retired from the U.S. Army as a Colonel, after more than 26 years. He had multiple deployments to Central America, Africa, the Balkans and the Gulf Region, as well as hurricane and forest fire relief deployments in the U.S., as both an Infantry Officer and Public Affairs Officer. After retiring from the Army, Guy spent seven years directing external communications for a major defense contractor, followed by establishing the communications function for a non-profit that provides financial assistance to Army soldiers and families. Guy is an avid boater and a credentialed USCG Master. He has more than 15 years serving on boards for both the Army Public Affairs Association (Chairman) and the Capital Yacht Club (Commodore). In the past two decades he has been instrumental in establishing two 501(c)(3) charities; The Army Public Affairs Association and the Capital Yacht Club Community Chest.

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 Charlie Atie
Vice President 

Charlie Atie began his law enforcement career in 1991 with the Prospect Park (NJ) Police Department and retired as the Chief of Police in 2020.  Throughout his career, Charlie was the recipient of many honors and awards.  Charlie obtained Bachelor of Arts and Master of Administrative Science Degrees, focusing on Leadership and Management, from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Charlie proudly served as President of the Passaic County (NJ) Police Chief’s Association.  Charlie also participated in the NJ State Association of Chiefs Of Police (NJSACOP) International Executive Leadership and Advanced Professional Policing Programs globally where he attended workshops with various Law Enforcement Executives in over seven countries.  

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 John B. Mandrafina
Executive Board
John B. Mandrafina retired from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as a Supervisory Special Agent after over 26 years of service.  John has lectured on the use of sophisticated investigative techniques at the International Law Enforcement Academy in Budapest, Hungary and represented the FBI at several international conferences regarding use of the undercover technique.  John is credited with having overseen the planning and execution of dozens of successful criminal, counterterrorism and counterintelligence undercover operations.  Upon his retirement, John founded Twilight Investigations, providing investigative services to several Fortune 500 Companies and prestigious law firms in the New York metropolitan area.   
 John Spinato
Secretary & Treasurer 

John Spinato began his law enforcement career as a United States Air Force Security Policeman and continued with the New York Air National Guard and Division of Military and Naval Affairs. John pursued his civilian law enforcement career with the Town of Crawford (NY) Police Department where he retired in 2015.  In 2019, John joined the Town of Shawangunk (NY) Police Department where he continues to serve as a Police Officer.


Expeditions & Events

Expeditions & Events

2020 Expedition

2019 Expedition


Training Photos

Manhattan Circumnavigation

Manhattan Circumnavigation

Navesink River, NJ

Manhattan Circumnavigation




Contact Us

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Please join Operation Deep Blue in honoring our law enforcement officers, other first responders and military service members who made the ultimate sacrifice by making a donation.  Your contribution will ensure our fallen heroes are never forgotten and provide relief to their surviving family members.

Operation Deep Blue is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization registered in the United States under Employer Identification Number (EIN) 84-3140657.

To donate electronically, please click below:


To donate by check:

Please make payable to Operation Deep Blue Corp.

and mail to:

Operation Deep Blue Corp.

P.O. Box 783

Ramsey, NJ 07446-0783

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Thank You!