Former Lance Corporal Kenta Otawa, USMC
Kenta began his military career right out of high school and after basic training studied at a Marine Corps culinary school. During the 2011 Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, he was deployed to the island nation and supported the humanitarian effort by coordinating food service for his fellow Marines. It was during his time in Japan that he received awful news following a physical; something was wrong with his eyes. The problem was later diagnosed as retinitis pigmentosa, a rare degenerative eye disease that fills the retina with splotches of pigment.
For Kenta, the disease has caused tunnel vision, night blindness, and loss of visual acuity, resulting in a medical discharge from the Corps in November 2011. Following his discharge, Kenta was left in a state of shock and a loss of direction in his life. He had hoped to serve 20 years in the military, but that was no longer possible. Not one to be put down for long, Kenta enrolled in a community college in 2012 part-time while working in noodle manufacturing. He has recently relocated to San Francisco State University to pursue a major in business.
Today, Kenta is at a crossroads in his life; his vision is worsening each year and his brain struggles to compensate. Though he still retains central vision his peripheral vision has given way to an ever-growing darkness.
But Kenta won’t let that deter him from wanting more, and through an old friend in the Marines, he made contact with the Dive Pirates Foundation. His few times snorkeling left him wanting to dive deeper and explore the ocean. He hopes that training as an adaptive diver will give him a whole new world to experience and explore. His brother, Daiki, is his adaptive dive buddy and they trained in San Diego with Instructor Paul McQuigg of the Waves Project.