Military Veterans Coral Reef Restoration Mission

Florida Keys, FL

FORCE BLUE Military Veterans, Students & Scientists Came Together To Save Coral Reefs in the Florida Keys With Celebration of the Sea Founder & CEO Patxi Pastor – Story Featured On Bonnier Media.

Retired Special Operations military veterans made a direct impact on saving coral reefs in the Florida Keys, where only 3% of living coral remains. FORCE BLUE retrains and redeploys Special Operations veterans to work alongside scientists on marine conservation missions. This special mission included I.CARE, an organization dedicated to restoring the reefs of Islamorada and Mote Marine Laboratory. The veterans participated in a special program designed to research and help save the coral reefs in Islamorada, Florida.

Participating divers underwent scientific training provided by I.CARE staff covering coral restoration methodology, coral species identification, and data collection. During the dives, the team transplanted corals and conducted maintenance and monitoring activities on previously transplanted corals “Coral reefs play a critical role in protecting coastal communities and economies. We can and must do more to save them,” said U.S. Congressman Brian Mast (FL-18), who along with Congressman Darren Soto (FL-09), introduced the Restoring Resilient Reefs Act to restore and conserve coral reefs by authorizing five years of directed federal grant funding for the restoration and management of coral reef ecosystems. “Restoring and conserving these reefs will promote healthier ecosystems, protect aquatic habitats and support our marine life.”

Among the most biologically diverse ecosystems on the planet, healthy coral reefs have high cultural and economic significance. “Here in the Florida Keys and throughout our state and country, coral reefs have a powerful impact on tourism, business, the marine industry and our way of life,” said Monroe County Mayor David Rice. “Our reefs are declining here because of development, climate change, overfishing and disease. What we are doing in the ocean today will go a long way in protecting them.” The training and diving generated much needed public awareness and focus on just how critically important coral reefs are in the world.

Among the FORCE BLUE divers were:

Suze MacDonald, Lt. Col, US Army (Vet.): MacDonald served 29+ years in the United States Army as an intelligence officer. She is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan as well as multiple deployments around the world. After retiring in 2015, MacDonald broke from the traditional retirement to contractor route, choosing instead to take a lifelong hobby (scuba diving) and turn it into a career. She is now an active NAUI
and HSA instructor in the Tampa Bay area and can often be seen working as a divemaster in Clearwater. She is also a family law mediator and working on a Ph.D. in Conflict Analysis and Resolution.

Gavin S. Fisher, Master Sgt., USAF Pararescueman: Fisher has 12+ years of Special Operation (SOF) and more than two years of experience with private contracting. Fisher has made seven combat deployments covering the full spectrum of special warfare operations. As an Air Force Pararescueman (PJ), he has served honorably between active duty and Air Force Reserves for 12+ years rising to the rank of Master Sergeant (January 2022). During this time in service, Fisher has executed cross domain mission sets in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Kenya, Somalia and Djibouti. His experience is hard fought, having been awarded the Silver Star, two Purple Hearts and multiple other medals and awards for valor in combat and professionalism in the joint environment.

Dan Henderson, First Sgt., US Army (Vet.): Dan Henderson is an Army veteran with 20+ years on active duty. He spent well over half of his career in U.S. Army Special Forces as a Green Beret. Throughout his career he attended multiple military schools to include Ranger School, Sniper School, Military Free-Fall school and numerous others.
Henderson attended the Special Forces Combat Diver Qualification Course in Key West and was assigned to a dive team. He has numerous combat deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan and training missions to multiple locations throughout Asia. Henderson became a NAUI Instructor in 2021 and is now a NAUI Course Director, teaching recreational diving in his down time. In September of 2021 he opened his own dive facility in Washington, Ranger Sport Scuba.

Adam “Cleve” Levine, SSGT, USMC (Vet.): Adam Levine served just shy of 10 years in the United States Marine Corps as a Force Reconnaissance Marine and led Recon and Force Recon Marines on combat deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, South East Asia and in and around the Horn of Africa. Levine was the dive team leader in his last Force Recon platoon and was also a graduate from the Marine Corps Dive Supervisor Course. After successfully completing the USMC Dive Supervisor course, Levine went on to plan, coordinate and successfully execute 20 full mission profile training dives that consisted of both open and closed-circuit apparatuses across the globe. After his honorable discharge from the Marine Corps, Levine graduated from Devry University with a bachelor’s degree in Electronics Engineering Technology. He works as a
GORUCK cadre and enjoys following, trading, and investing in the markets.

Dale McClellan, GM2 SEAL, US Navy (Vet.): A combat veteran and Former Navy SEAL, Machine Gunner, Point Man, Sniper and Scout Sniper Instructor, McClellan is now the president and CEO of Special Tactical Services, LLC (STS) in Virginia. After 9/11 and the subsequent operational and training events that followed, McClellan provided professional, fully licensed, highly trained, Armed Security Teams to counter
the worldwide security threats in numerous countries. Under McClellan’s leadership, those Armed Security Teams have successfully completed hundreds of high-risk operations without injury, loss or unfavorable publicity. McClellan has also consulted on several productions to ensure the accurate portrayal of industry related professions.

Jimmy Settle, SSGT, USAF Pararescueman (Vet.): During his service as a member of the 212th Rescue Squadron (Alaska Air National Guard), Settle trained exhaustively to execute rescue missions anytime, anyplace and in any environment. In late 2010, Settle was shot in the head in Afghanistan attempting to rescue an injured and pinned down Army patrol. Despite his injury, and with the shrapnel still in his head, Settle continued to function as a PJ for a week during the Battle of Bull Dog Bite II. His actions and those of his teammates were recognized as the “Rescue Mission of the Year” by the Jolly Green Association. Though Settle’s injuries were not life threatening, they were life changing. Upon his return stateside, Settle was medically retired from the Air Force in 2013 as a Staff Sergeant. Since his retirement he has begun taking college classes directed at his interests, and written a book, “Never Quit.”