CAMP CASEY, South Korea – Some soldiers join the Army to face their fears and accomplish goals they may have walked away from as a civilian.
First Lt. George Edward Smith who is currently serving as the operations officer for C Battery, 1st Battalion, 38th Field Artillery Regiment, 210th Fires Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division failed out of pre-scuba before he was commissioned. Today the artillery officer enjoys exploring the waters around the peninsula.
“I have been diving for six months, and I am currently working on my rescue diving,” said Smith. “The biggest thing I am worried about is my mask coming off while I’m down in the water. That was one of the hardest events for me while I was attending training and it still haunts me to this day.”
The Madison, Fla., native had to overcome his personal barriers before gaining the confidence to become a diver enthusiast. Now he tries to dives at least two times a week while the weather is warm. Smith said he travels to beautiful locations across Korea and Southeast Asia to enjoy the deep blue sea.
“I have been to the Philippines to dive and Jeju Island here in Korea,” he said.
Smith wants other soldiers to try diving because it is an activity that teaches them discipline.
“For me scuba diving is more than just overcoming a fear,” said Smith. He explained that some people are afraid of being under water for a long period of time and running out of air to breath.
“But scuba diving teaches you how to be calm [and] learn how to control your fear by learning how not to panic when something goes wrong,” he said.
Interested soldiers may be afraid of the cost.
“Everyone thinks scuba diving is expensive, but it’s really not,” said Smith. “You can rent everything you need.” He further explained that most of the organizations have payment plans for individuals who want to give it a try.
“But the company that does it for [U.S. Forces Korea] has broken down the course into three segments and has a payment plan of $200 for each segment,” said Smith.
According to Smith, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, one of the major organizations who certify divers, is the world’s leading scuba-diving training organization. PADI has issued millions of scuba certifications worldwide.
To become certified, a swimmer must go through necessary training.
“Certified diver training is really easy,” said Smith. “You will have to do a one- day session in the pool where you will learn basic skills like removing your mask and equipment and then how to put everything together. Next students will spend a weekend on the east coast where they do four training dives in the actual ocean and refine the skills learned in the pool.”
Smith flexibility enabled him to bounce back to face and defeat his fear and demonstrated what it means to be resilient.
The 210th Fires Brigade integrates this type of resilience for its soldiers to endure cultural changes as well as, build, strengthen, maintain and assess total soldier and family health. The brigade also assesses fitness, individual performance and unit readiness. For more information, please contact Russell W. Krogh at 010-2289-9024.