“Our stay at Wyndham Royal Sea Cliff was nothing short of magical. Our stay at the resort was a gift for my family from my parents.

It was a last family vacation before I was deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

I can honestly say that our nine days in Hawaii made the memories that I was able to cherish on my six-month separation from my family. The resort provided hours of entertainment for my family and I, especially our four children. Whether we were splashing in the pool, playing foosball, or searching the bushes for a wayward tennis ball, we had so much fun.

Our kids got their first snorkeling adventures at the Kahaluu Beach Park, just a short drive from the resort. The kids still talk about the amazing, colorful fish they saw and of course the sea turtles.

We visited Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Our family took selfies in front of the steam vents and we marveled at the vast size of the lava tube as we explored its depths. Standing there at the edge overlooking the crater, while the boys had a rock-throwing contest, was awe-inspiring and familiar at the same time. Realizing the wonder of nature and the plain fact that ‘boys will be boys.’

My favorite part of the trip was a snorkeling adventure to the famous Captain Cook Monument. Despite their mom’s anxiety for them, the kids had a blast riding the boat at high speeds through the ocean. Our seasoned boat captain told us of the rich history of the cove.

In the water it was a whole new world of discovery for our family, and I was able to see generations coming together as I watched my children swim with their grandpa. It brought to my memory the many times that I swam beside him discovering the wonders of the ocean for the first time.

To top off the amazing snorkeling adventure, our departure from the cove was escorted by a pod of spinner dolphins. Seeing those creatures speed through the water only to leap into the air spinning 360 degrees was the end of an already amazing day.

Our trip to Hawaii will always be in our hearts and memories. I anxiously await the day that we can return. Our vacation will always hold special meaning for me as the source of memories that got me through my deployment, providing me with the resolve to sacrifice my time away from my family to serve this great country.”

John Cleaves

Oceanside, California