Published Dec. 14, 2011

Not long ago, two Florida brothers, Ralph Brown, 50, of Spring Hill and Robert Brown of Merritt Island, crossed the Atlantic Ocean in a Suzuki-powered Intruder Flats boat, a 21-foot boat that Ralph's company, Dream Boats, designed and built.

The feat earned them praise and recognition - a world record for the smallest powerboat to cross the Atlantic and a Congressional Distinguished Citizen Award.

The trip was made in honor of the men who died in Operation Eagle Claw, Aug. 24, 1980.

At that time, Ralph was in the Marine Corps, and although he wasn't sent to Iran to help free the hostages in the U.S. Embassy, he vowed then to make sure the men who died would not be forgotten.

The voyage was the beginning of the new Wounded Hero Program, Project Gratitude, established in their honor.

The Browns set sail on June 27, 2009, from Tampa and traveled to the Limehouse Marina in downtown London, setting the record.

The trip, which took 76 days to complete, was sponsored by I Am Second and Interstate Battery.

Ralph Brown's company, located in Hudson, is currently building the Oceans Quest Intruder Express, a 58-foot catamaran designed to bring home to the United States the world speed record for circumnavigation that for many years belonged to the U.S. Navy. It is currently held by the New Zealand-built Earth Race.

Brown is in negotiations with several companies interested in helping to raise $3 million to fund Project Gratitude to help veterans find jobs.

For information, visit

* * *

Note of thanks

Kindness is not dead in Hernando County. On Nov. 16, while shopping at Publix supermarket in the Lakewood Plaza on Commercial Way, I was lucky to meet two caring people.

While buying dog food, I discovered I was $1 short, and the nice couple in back of me gave the cashier that extra dollar. I did not think about getting their name at the time.

So I would like to say thank-you so very much, and I hope to see you again. There are still caring, unselfish folks around.

Claire Dokoupil

Spring Hill

* * *

We need your news!

Hometown Hernando is devoted to everyday life in our county, whether it's snapshots from your family reunion or a few lines thanking someone for a job well done. Call Hometown Hernando news coordinator Jean Hayes at (352) 848-1438, fax (352) 754-6133, or