Bob Smolen’s legacy now lives on amongst the sea life in the pacific ocean off the beautiful Hawaiian coast of Oahu.  He wound’t have had it any other way and neither would the Smolen Family.  I have been documenting all events to our Hawaiian trip from the beginning to end (You can read about the first part HERE).  We’ve all had a sense of closure when the memorial was completed on Feb 11th, two days after Bob’s birthday. We were relieved that everything went as perfectly as we had hoped.  This was a valiant effort by all parties involved, all the way from the creation of the memorial to placing it in its final resting place.  It was such a collaborate effort and it truly was a beautiful thing to witness and document for those who couldn’t make the trip.

I think its fair to say that we all hope when its our time to go, we are loved by as many people as Mr. Smolen was.  This memorial ceremony brought 25+ family and friends together from all over the nation; from Alaska to Florida, and everywhere in between. Most of the people who participated in this memorial were friends that Bob made throughout his life.  In true Bob fashion and spirit, we all came together in paradise to place his living reef into the ocean, what he felt as being the closest thing to heaven while alive.  His family put it perfectly when they said, “he is now building his own underwater community.”  We are all certainly looking forward to going back and visiting, to see ocean life flourish and grow all around his new resting place.

DSC_6348 DSC_6344 DSC_6352 DSC_6349 HawaiiMemorial10 HawaiiMemorial11 DSC_6372 DSC_6376 DSC_6381 DSC_6383 HawaiiMemorial12 HawaiiMemorial1Map of the location, but we renamed it General Smolen’s Crater 😉

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The gang is all here! DSC_6458

A HUGE thank you to the divers/crew of Island Divers who were with us all week throughout our dives, got me certified, and were instrumental in getting this memorial, not only safely to the bottom of the ocean, but for allowing it to happen at all! You guys rock! HawaiiMemorial13 DSC01662-2 DSC01672-2 DSC_6524 HawaiiMemorial14 DSC01665

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HawaiiMemorial16The coins that are placed on either side of the reef is Bob’s final military coin, which he and Robby (his son) designed before his passing.  The coin reflects his most recent career and passions.  His passions (picture below on the left) USAF, black labs (his 2 favorite furry children named Angus and Phoebe), diving, and Steelers (raised in, and spent a large potion of his life in Pennsylvania).  The other side of the coin shows Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, his last job, after retiring from the Air Force as a Major (2 Star) General.


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DSC01769Bob’s wife, Adriane placing a traditional Hawaiian floral leis around his neck

IMG_0129_2Family, always and forever



The underwater photos are not mine, I had enough trouble just focusing on breathing 😉 Thank you to Dave (and for the amazing videos!), Mike, and Eileen for your underwater photography skills! I thought shooting above ground was a challenge, underwater photography is a whole other game and art form! I hope to one day “dive” (pun untended) into underwater photography after I gain more experience and improve my scuba diving skills.

If you’re ever in Oahu and want to visit General Smolen’s Crater while scuba diving, here are the coordinates: 21.269659,-157.723575

© Melissa Desjardins Photography 2015 | Wedding and Portrait Photographer | Central VA and Destinations Worldwide

March 22, 2015

Living Memorial Reef | Oahu, Hawaii | Personal

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