AFRL Det 16 Commander Braves Cold Water and Jelly Fish to Raise Money for International Charity
By Tiffany A. Ferrell, Air Firce Research Laboratory / Published September 25, 2015
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Dayton, Ohio --
On Tuesday, September 15, Colonel Tim Lawrence, Commander of AFRL Detachment 16, stepped into the cool waters off the shore of Jersey, UK with one purpose: to compete in an 800-meter swim relay and raise money for war-wounded servicemen and women. The event which takes place annually in Jersey--a small island located approximately 100 miles south of mainland Britain--sees dozens of service personnel and distance swimmers come together in support of Holidays for Heroes, a non-profit organization that provides disability supported vacations to Jersey Island at no expense for members of the armed services injured in the line of duty.
Typically the swim relay known as the Nautilus Trust Round Island Swim takes place off the coast of Jersey and is a grueling 42-mile, open water, long-distance competition that has historically taken most teams nearly 10 hours to complete. Unfortunately, due to high winds and towering waves, the event had to be modified this year and moved to the sheltered waters of Bouley Bay. That didn't dampen the spirits of Col. Lawrence, though, or those of his team which consisted of Capt. Justin Day (a Pentagon analyst with HAF/A9), Capt. Kai Yamashiro (an AETC instructor pilot at Laughlin AFB) and Capt. Spencer Butt (an AFOTEC F-35 test analyst at Edwards AFB).
"The Holidays for Heroes Jersey charity is fantastic, and it was an honor to be asked to bring a USAF team to participate. The water was pretty cold and the jelly fish got us a few times, but it was all worth it," said Col. Lawrence. "My team and I even got the chance to give an AF outreach talk at a local high school on the island since the event was shortened. The Captains were rock stars--they had videos and music for their presentations which thrilled the kids. I just showed space plasma bubble power point charts."
Despite the reduced length of the event, participants still raised enough money to sponsor 32 vacations for war-wounded. "That's double what we raised during the last round island swim I participated in," stated Col Lawrence.
At one point in the morning, the American flag was hoisted next to the Union Jack. "It was a great moment," Col. Lawrence recalled, noting opportunities presented because of that comradery. "I've been asked by a Royal Air Force space communications squadron to come and share a day out and explain AFRL's mission with them."
"It's such an inspiring event. I hope to be able to bring a US team with the same Captains, plus a few more, to participate again next year."