About the Foundation
Who We Are
Invest in America’s Veterans Foundation was formed by Ralph A. Santillo in Cape Coral, Fla. in 2009. Ralph, along with the foundation’s first president, Stanley Weinberg, intended for the foundation to be a “clubhouse” for Veterans of all ages who were seeking Veteran camaraderie, fellowship and quite simply, a place to hang. Initially operating out of a small storefront on Del Prado Boulevard in Cape Coral, Fla., Veterans soon began bringing their military memorabilia for safekeeping and the clubhouse quickly transformed into what is now the Southwest Florida Military Museum & Library. Fast forward to today and IAVF continues to host those same roundtable gatherings in addition to providing essential support like housing assistance, job placement and counseling, steadfast to helping Veterans get back on their feet armed with the necessary tools and skills needed to be successful in civilian life.
Invest in America’s Veterans Foundation’s mission is to provide affordable housing and supplemental services to ALL Veterans in need and their families. Our team has assembled a group of dedicated Veterans and civilian volunteers who donate up to 4,000 hours per month of their time to create a positive impact on our nation’s Veterans. It is our goal to help every generation of Veterans transition to a healthy and wholesome civilian lifestyle and we couldn’t do this without their selfless dedication and support.
If you’d like to get involved in our mission, please consider sponsoring a Veteran. Each donation goes directly to life changing support for our heroes.
A Short Story from Stanley
Here’s an interesting story of an event that occurred during my time in the service:
I was a navigator on the USS Dace submarine at the age of 19. The USS Dace, SSN 247, was a Thresher class diesel powered fleet sub, stationed in Perth, Australia during WW 11. From there it patrolled the South China Seas with its partner, the USS Darter, SSN 227.
In October 1944, the submarines Darter and Dace encountered a major task force of the Imperial Japanese Navy en route through the Philippines to attack the Americans. A massive force was bound for Leyte Gulf, totaling 32 warships, including the largest battleships ever built: The Yamato and Musahi.
Early in the morning of October 23, 1944, the Darter and Dace were patrolling around Palawan Island in the southwest Philippines when they discovered Admiral Takeo Kurita’s Center Force, the most powerful of three separate surface groups comprised of cruisers, heavy cruisers, a destroyer escort, and five battleships, including the Musashi and Yamato.
Maneuvering to the front, the enemy, the Darter and Dace launched spreads of torpedoes just before dawn. Four “fish” from the Darter shredded the heavy cruiser Atago, Kurita’s flagship and the first in the formation. Ten minutes later, she pumped a brace of torpedoes into the Takeo (Atago ‘s sister ship). Fifteen minutes after that, Dace pumped four torpedoes into the heavy cruiser Maya and damaged another. Then Dace torpedoed two more enemy warships.
During the night, both the Atago and Maya were sunk, and the Takeo would limp towards safety. The Darter then unexpectedly ran aground. Resting high and dry on the reefs, the submarine had to be quickly abandoned. Rescued by the Dace, the Darter crew scrambled to safety aboard the Dace while the Japanese navy, just a short distance away, searched for the two American submarines.
This was the first time that these two Fleet subs encountered a huge Japanese fleet, did considerable damage and got away. Both the Darter and the Dace survived the war. The Darter went for scrap, while the Dace was sent to a Russian base in the Aleutians (Cold Bay) where it was used as a training ship.