(l-r) Mike Mirabella, 77, and Bill Schultz (74) pose before they set sail on a 780-mile adventure in the Semper Fi. The pair has been fast friends since they both joined the Marines in 1961. (Photo: Richard Simms)
It was a small crowd gathered at a Tennessee Riverpark dock Monday morning, but it was clear something special was happening. Family and friends gathered to say farewell as Bill Schultz and Mike Mirabella set off to "live their dream" - a 780 mile voyage from Chattanooga to Mobile, Ala.
Bill Schultz, 74, has dreamed of making such a trip for more than 30 years. The spry senior, with just a little resemblance to Gilligan, was clearly excited as his dream was about to become reality. He said his boss, Mike Simmons at A1 Towing, provided the inspiration to finally pull the trigger on the trip.
"For seven years Mike's been telling me I need to get on with this trip. He said, 'You're not getting any younger so you need to go on and do this.' That's one of the biggest encouragements I've had to live my dream and get this off my bucket list."
Then Schultz's voice cracked and quavered with emotion ...