This summer FORCE BLUE will be putting six (6) recruits through two weeks of intensive training under the tutelage of some of the brightest minds in the fields of marine science, coral restoration and PTSD counseling.
A Veteran Air Force Special Operations Combat Controller, Dan served in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Niger, and Haiti in multiple theaters of operations ranging from combat deployments to humanitarian missions. An avid health and wellness advocate, he has also excelled in the competitive sports arena as a four time CrossFit Games Regional Competitor, Strongman National Competitor, and Spartan Ultra World Championship Finisher.
Dan entered the civilian world pursuing the path of entrepreneurship where he owns Evolution Athletics, a human performance optimization company and is the Co-Founder of the Spring Lake Outpost, a kayak and canoe riverine adventure center. Dan’s business endeavors highlight the overarching theme in his life of constant human and environmental improvement. His military experience as an Air Force Combat Diver has allowed him to continue pursuing the great unknown, one of which is the Deep Blue.
Maj (Ret.) Jay Casello served 24 years in the United States Air Force as a Combat Rescue Officer culminating with 7 years at the 212th Rescue Squadron in Alaska. As a Team Commander Jay led Pararescue (PJ) teams in multiple combat deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq and civilian search and rescue missions in Alaska ensuring survivor contact, treatment, and extraction in denied, adverse, and hostile territories.
Shortly after receiving his B.A. in Political Science at the University of Rhode Island in 1994, Jay enlisted in the USAF as a Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) Specialist and served 6 years as a field training and parachuting water survival instructor. Jay earned his commission in Dec 2001 and was picked to lead his class at the Pararescue Indoctrination Course, graduated in a class with a 90% attrition rate, and continued to excel through the career field pipeline. He has graduated several special operations schools to include the U.S. AF Combat Rescue Officer course, U.S. Army Combat Dive School, U.S. Navy Underwater Egress, U.S. Army Airborne, and the U.S. Army Military Freefall Parachutist school.
Throughout his career, he is credited with innumerable rescue missions resulting in over one hundred lives saved. Among other achievements, Jay has been awarded the Joint Service Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, Air Force Combat Action Medal, Humanitarian Achievement Medal, Aerial Achievement Medal and multiple Air Medals.
Jay has been diving since 1988 and has gained vast, invaluable experience during Special Forces dive school and multiple rescue and recovery missions deployed both overseas and in the U.S.
Andy grew up on a retired farm property with this twin brother Matt in New Jersey. From a young age they treated everything like a competition. Their father had them racing go karts, dirt bikes, playing every sport they could, Feeding into the need for adrenaline and excitement. Growing up near NYC 9/11 hit their home town much harder than others. Right out of high school he started flight school thinking he wanted to be a pilot eventually for the military. But that proved to be too boring. He needed more. He needed to serve his country.
In 2009 he joined the U.S Air Force. After 2 years of training in 2011 he became a Combat controller assigned to the 23rd Special Tactics sqdn in Florida. Shortly after earning his Beret he married his wife, Anna. Then the deployments started. The lifestyle of being a special operator tested them both. The hardships of being gone all the time. Experiencing war, losing friends along the way, being severely combat wounded. He felt he was changing. He left Active duty life in 2016 and is currently a member of the 125th STS Air National Guard in Oregon.
Thomas Peck is a retired Army Warrant Officer with 22 years of service. He spent all 22 years of duty in Army Special Operations as both an enlisted soldier and Warrant Officer in either the U.S. Army Rangers, or the Special Forces Green Beret. He has logged well over one thousand dives in the waters of the Caribbean, Central America, Fiji, and the coastal regions of the United States. Tom has also worked on numerous humanitarian missions as a Commander or Assistant Commander of Operational Detachments in such countries as Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Thailand, the Philippine islands, Iraq, Sudan, and Egypt; just to name a few.
He has a Bachelor’s in Political Science from Saint Martin’s University, and is also a recent graduate of Pierce College with an Associate’s degree in the Occupational Safety & Health (OSHA) program to be a certified safety technician. Tom has found fortune in marriage to his wife Charlotte, a retired school teacher, married for the last thirty-three years. She shares Tom’s love of SCUBA diving and appreciation of natural science and marine biology.
Born and raised in Alaska, Jimmy Settle fell in love with physical outdoor activities in the rugged mountains at an early age. His time spent in the woods paid off when, in 1996, Jimmy became an Alaska State Champion for Cross-Country Running. His fitness and drive to help the planet served him well as an Air Force Pararescueman (PJ). During his service as a member of the 212th Rescue Squadron, Jimmy trained exhaustively to execute rescue missions anytime, anyplace, and in any environment. In late 2010, Jimmy was shot in the head in Afghanistan attempting to rescue an injured and pinned down Army patrol. Although the round did not penetrate Jimmy’s skull, it did lodge just beneath his scalp.
Despite his injury, and with the shrapnel still in his head, Jimmy 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 Jimmy’s injuries were not life threatening, they were life changing. Upon his return stateside Jimmy 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, as well as written a book, “Never Quit”. He still spends as much time as possible outdoors, especially the thick forests of the Pacific Northwest with his family and dogs.
A Special Operations Forces veteran from the UK, Clarke served in the British equivalent of the U.S. Navy SEAL Development Group (DEVGRU), both as a combat diver and an operator. With over 17 years operational service under his belt, Clarke spent his military career giving his all for freedoms none of us should ever take for granted.
Clarke vividly recalls seeing the attacks of September 11, 2001 on TV while on base and remembers how instantaneously he knew his life would be forever changed by them. Shortly thereafter, fighting alongside his US brothers-in-arms, Clarke began operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Through these conflicts, he, like many others, had dear friends who were wounded or never came home.
From an early age, all Clarke ever wanted to do was to serve. He never had a “Plan B”. In his years since leaving the military, Clarke has struggled to find meaning and purpose — something that would allow him to give back and to again be part of something larger than himself.
Force Blue is giving him that opportunity; a chance to do good for this beautiful, but fragile planet and to once again serve alongside those brave and special people that are our veterans.