Lt. Col ALLEN B. WEST joins Dive Pirates in Cayman to Dive with Injured Veterans
Decorated serviceman Lt. Col. (US Army Retired) Allen B. West will meet and dive with recipients of the Dive Pirates Foundation during its 2016 tour to Cayman Brac dive trip this June, with 20 adaptive divers and others who support these divers as instructors and adaptive dive buddies.
“We are honored to have Col. West join us on our 12th year of offering the mobility of SCUBA diving with our friends who have mobile disabilities, especially our men and women who have served our nation in the armed services and have since lost some of their mobility,” said Dive Pirates Foundation President and Co-Founder Barbara Thompson. “He truly understands what these men and women experienced in combat and as a master SCUBA diver he appreciates what it means for someone in a wheel chair or with an amputation to experience the freedom of diving.”
Among others West will be diving with Retired Captain Marlene Krpata, a 2011 recipient of the Dive Pirates Foundation who suffered severe injuries after a mortar attack on her base camp. She endured numerous surgeries; the last of which was the amputation of her leg. Krpata is returning on her fourth trip with the Pirates.
“Physically, nothing hurts when I’m underwater, I feel natural, when I’m diving I’m just like everybody else, “Krpata mentioned after her first dive trip. “And mentally, because it’s so peaceful down there, it helps me to calm down and relaxes me.”
Krpata, along with other divers, is excited West will be joining them to share the uniqueness of this experience that has created lifetime friendships around an activity that affords them mobility.
“We have two things that tie us together, one is we have to learn to live with a disability, the other is the love of diving and water; so there is a respect there that binds us, it creates that esprit de corps, that family of brothers and sisters, people you trust all around you. I have developed some great bonds, so a week of diving stress free with this togetherness, around meals, around the pool, fills me with something I really miss from being in the military.”
Krpata will be on the first voyage June 11-18, 2016 joining seven new recipients and two other returning recipients to enjoy a week at the Cayman Brac Beach Resort and Reef Divers II. A Second group will arrive June 18-25, 2016 with five new and three returning recipients.
“This is the first time we have done back-to-back trips, as we had a number of recipients who needed a resort accessible to those in wheelchairs,” continued Thompson. “The Brac Reef Beach Resort has been very accommodating and we are looking forward to a great two weeks, and Col. West being with us is the icing on the cake.”
During his 22-year career in the United States Army, Lieutenant Colonel West served in several combat zones and received many honors including a Bronze Star, three Meritorious Service Medals, three Army Commendation Medals and a Valorous Unit Award. In 1993 he was named the US Army ROTC Instructor of the Year.
Currently West is the Executive Director of the National Center for Policy Analysis and also serves as the Vice Chairman of its Board of Directors. He is well known for representing Florida’s 22nd District in the United States Congress, a Fox News Contributor and author of Guardian of the Republic: An American Ronin’s Journey to Family, Faith and Freedom.