The Soldiers Undertaking Disabled Scuba Dive Team.
North Carolina, August 17-19, 2012
From left to right; Danny Facciola-Instructor, Charles Stringer, Brett Graveline,
Preston Kaplan, Marc Robledo, Dave Lewis-Instructor, Matt White-(not shown)
Olympus Dive Center was honored once again to have received some of the men from Soldiers Undertaking Disabled Scuba on August 17-19, 2012 and I had an even bigger honor of being the one to take them diving on board the Midnight Express. (Learn more about SUDS in my previous Blog Report, SUDS & Subs from 2011.) Accompanied by SUDS instructors Danny Facciola and Dave Lewis the men were in good hands for the entire long weekend.
If there is a group of men who can instill feelings of pride in your country it is these guys. Seeing them participate in scuba diving after overcoming grievous wounds received in battle is inspiring to watch. I think of people like this when I catch myself complaining about trivial matters in life and it places things in proper perspective for me since I have never heard one of these service men complain about anything on board my boat, except maybe when instructor Dave Lewis snores too loud.
With a warm up 60' dive on the wreck of the Indra on Friday the men were off to a great start. Visibility was a bit low around 10 feet, but it helped sharpen skills and prepare them for coming dives. On Saturday, we headed to the wreck of the Caribsea to check out the sand tiger sharks that have been loitering around all summer at this premier NC dive site. The visibility on the bottom at 90 feet was a little on the murky side, as it usually is, but with the bulk of the shark population hovering in the blue mid water, it did not matter; the guys had a blast. Many stayed within eye shot of the boat in 40' of water and watched the parade of sharks by the dozens march by as well as the thick schools of spanish mackerel, little tunny's and amberjacks that made the scenery all the more exciting.
Due to responsibilities on the boat I was unable to dive with the SUDS guys, but I did manage to jump in during surface interval and capture some video of my buddies, the sand tigers. As usual, I had a great experience swimming amongst these awesome marine creatures and used a few clips from this dive in the video below.
With the coming of Sunday, it was time to head south out of Beaufort inlet and head on over to one of the hottest shark lounges in North Carolina, Club Aeolus. If you have not heard of any of the stories or seen any of the video from this wreck dive you are missing out. Sharks have been hanging out inside this wreck all summer long and their numbers seem to be growing as the weeks pass by. The Aeolus on this day was a pleasant 40-50 foot of visibility and the SUDS guys got to see what all the hubbub was all about for themselves.
Once again I did not get to dive with the SUDS team but I did video this clip below after they all returned to the boat and I had my chance to dive. Click play and see the action for yourself.
August 18, 2012
Once the guys had there fill of sharks, we headed over to the USCG Cutter Spar to log a dive on this top notch wreck site. This time I managed to steal away from the boat and jump in with the SUDS team and shoot a quick bit of video and still images. The team had already been down for about 10 minutes before I managed to get in the water so I had to move quick to capture the moment on video. As I headed down to the wreck I quickly caught sight of the SUDS team led by Danny and Dave, hanging about the watch tower on the Spar. Danny spotted me right off and immediately began gathering the team up for a group photo shoot atop the wreck. By the time I arrived on the scene, these well trained men were all in position for a fantastic group video and photo shot. Without further ado why don't you watch this short video tribute clip below.
Diving with these guys has once again been a great pleasure and honor. I feel that the training these men received and the diving they do is a small way of thanking them for the service and sacrifices they have made. I can say for sure they deserve this and much much more.
Great video tribute mike! these brave men have been thru hell, and it's only fair that they get the chance to experiance the heaven that is diving. Hats off to suds for the training, and to guys like you and bobby at Olympus for helping to make this happen.
It's efforts like this that remind me how great our sport and it's people involved in it truly are.
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