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Diving Marines in Hawaii

Last Memorial Day, a group of Marines based in Hawaii honored their fallen comrades with two scuba dives.

Marine Corps aviation mechanics and air crew work long hours to ensure that their aircraft stay in the sky. When they are not on the clock, some diving Marines in Hawaii spend their free time underwater.

Based out of Marine Corps Base Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, Marine Aircraft Group 24 (MAG 24) Dive Group began as a way for Marines to participate in family-friendly, alcohol-free weekend events.

MAG 24 Dive Group

Since last January, the group has grown to 85 members, said Danielle L. Sodergren, III Marine Expeditionary Force embedded prevention specialist and MAG 24 Dive-Group Coordinator. Members include military personnel, DOD workers and family members that belong to MAG 24.

“We actively hold classes through our divemasters and local dive shops to train and certify new divers every other month,” says Sodergren. “We work with them to offer specialty classes and advancement certifications as well.”

Last Memorial Day, the group went on two dives in honor of fallen Marines from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463.

“It was a good time, and I was glad that I could make it to honor our fallen Marines, especially my friend Sgt. Semolina, whom I had shared the experience of recruit training with,” says Sgt. Timothy A. Chancy, a MAG 24 Dive Group member. “Our first dive was at the Sea Tiger wreck off the coast of Honolulu, between 100 and 120 feet deep, depending on what part of the wreck you’re exploring at a given time.”

Once they surfaced, the group headed over to a site called Nautilus, a shallow reef dive at around 40 feet.

“We all swam around and checked out the coral and fish for about 45 minutes,” says Chancy. “On that dive, when we approached the coral, we saw a few whitetip reef sharks darting in and out of the coral. Ten minutes later, I came so close to one resting beneath a coral shelf that I could nearly touch it.”

The group has helped build relationships by bringing divers in the MAG together a few times a month to plan dives, adds Chancy.

“It gives all of us a chance to meet new people within the group who aren’t in our company or squadron, as well as take the rank off for a while and simply have a good time,” he says.

The group has helped build bonds between its members as well. Their Facebook page, MAG 24 Dive Group, works with other units to set up group dives.

Children age 12 and older can get certified, so these dives are family events, says Sodergren. Divemasters take suggestions on where to dive next from the group. Then they work with local shops to secure reduced rates so that diving is affordable for everyone. Whether a dive is conducted in honor of fallen soldiers or just for a fun day out, they provide active servicemen and women a way to unwind and check out some of Hawaii’s underwater wildlife as well.

By guest author Corporal Nathan Cray