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ABOUT THE BLOGGER: Tania Ortega-Cowan is a photo-journalist who grew up in Indian River County and spent many summers all along Indian River Drive in Sebastian. She remembers Capt. Hiram’s early beginnings and witnessed its soulful evolution into the resort destination it is today. Tania says, “I have focused my entire career covering positive human-interest stories and community heroes, so when my friend and Capt. Hiram’s marketing director Kimball Stadler asked if I wanted to profile some of the Veterans from the Space Coast Honor Flight’s monthly luncheons held at Capt. Hiram’s, I jumped at the chance!”


Donna Johnson was born and raised in East Gulf, West Virginia. She joined the US Air Force when she was 18 years old. I ask her what motivated her to enlist.

“I always wanted to serve my country,” she says in a soft voice. “I served from 1962 to 1965. Basic training was quite a rude awakening! The discipline. And I had to learn to do things for myself which I had never done before because I always lived with mom and dad.”

Johnson worked on base equipment. If anyone needed special equipment, Johnson made sure it got there.

“I grew up pretty fast,” she says. “I still to this day would do it all over again.”

She is hopeful one day she will be chosen for an Honor Flight.

“I am on the list,” she exclaims. “I am pretty low down on the list. I have been on there for a year now, so maybe another year! I am not giving up!”

Johnson enjoys coming to the luncheons each month.

“I love to come to Capt. Hiram’s – it is so nice,” she says smiling and looking out over the water. “Today is beautiful.”