A veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, Rudy served with distinction as a member of the United States Marine Corps illustrious 1st Reconnaissance Battalion and played himself in HBO’s Generation Kill, a miniseries based on the bestselling book by Rolling Stone reporter Evan Wright. A graduate of the Marine Corps Combatant Diving, Scout/Sniper and Search, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) schools, Rudy has worked as a counter-terror contractor for the Department of Defense, trained African wildlife preserver rangers in anti-poaching techniques and, most recently, appeared in National Geographic Channel’s Ultimate Survival Alaska. Rudy is the author of Hero Living, which chronicles his warrior philosophy and teaches others how to follow it.
Master Sgt. Roger Sparks has served within the military as both a Recon Marine and an Air Force Pararescueman for over 25 years. Sparks was the recipient of the Silver Star, the nation’s third-highest award for valor, in a ceremony on July 11, 2014 for his actions during a fierce firefight with insurgents in Afghanistan’s Watapur Valley on Nov. 14, 2010. His citation reads: “Despite continued enemy fire and with no concern for his personal safety, Sergeant Sparks immediately performed lifesaving measures for nine wounded soldiers.” Roger struggled with post-traumatic stress in the year after that five-month deployment, during which he turned to tattooing. “I couldn’t shake the catharsis of it, like how healing the experience was to be serendipitously tattooed right after that,” he said. “It’s a metaphysical thing of attempting to master yourself through experiencing the pain of tattooing but through virtuous symbols. The pastime took on greater meaning as he began tattooing fellow veterans. Sparks is currently transitioning from a career of special operations into the civilian world as an artist, author and speaker.
Will served as an E-5/Sergeant 5 years in the Marine Corps. He is the recipient of the Iraq Campaign Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Humanitarian Service Medal, Navy and the Marine Corps Achievement Medal. He was also a security contractor in high threat areas overseas. Will is also a very accomplished athlete and trainer. He was a competitive swimmer and distance runner in high school, teaching Special Olympics and giving swimming lessons as his high school job. His beliefs in fitness as a form of physical, mental and spiritual health led him to start a CrossFit affiliate at the Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan – the first of its kind at an Embassy anywhere in the world. He ran that for three years in Kabul before leaving to launch Huron River CrossFit in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Jon was born and raised in Durban, South Africa – surf mecca and shark hotspot. His education was not in a classroom. As a young man he was as a safety kayaker on the Zambezi River and worked for whitewater rafting companies in Victoria Falls. After 911, Jon had an illustrious military career with the Royal Marines, including multiple deployments into Afghanistan and as a training officer at the Commando Training Centre. As a civilian he has supported science and research trips onto the coral reefs around the British Indian Ocean Territory and the Chagos Archipelago. In 2010, he founded Blue Ventures Belize marine conservation organization operating in Sarteneja and Bacalar Chico.
In hopes of fulfilling a dream of becoming a Navy SEAL, Geoff joined the military after college. After several advanced training schools and having earned the coveted SEAL “Trident,” Geoff reported to SEAL Team 10, helping commission the new team and becoming a “plank owner.” Upon returning CONUS, new orders took him to the Navy Parachute Team, “Leap Frogs”, where he performed dynamic parachute demonstrations into stadiums for Major League Baseball, National Football League, NASCAR, horse races, high schools, and X-Game events nationwide. Geoff took his determination and moved to Los Angeles where has worked as an actor and host, and can be seen in numerous movies, television commercials, webisodes and video games. Some of his credits include Transformers and Iron Man.
Following his service in the US Army, Nathan finished his BA and became a certified Flight and Tactical Paramedic. A full-time nomad, Nathan travels around the world professionally as well as a volunteer – working in Thailand after the tsunami and Haiti after the earthquake. Nathan is an EMS instructor for groups such as Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, US Special Operations, and Doctor’s Without Borders, teaching at Dartmouth, the Smithsonian Institute as well as courses in Nicaragua, Haiti, and Kenya. His love for the ocean has led him to become a Freediving, Diving, and Sailing Instructor as well as a USCG Captain, sailing across the Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Pacific.
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 in Danbury, CT and raised in Cupertino, CA, Jon is a former Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technician, who served from 2008-2014, with a combat deployment to Afghanistan in 2012, where he defused IEDs and helped train up the local counterparts. Beyond his combat deployment, he saw a lot of the country and other parts of the world supporting the United States Secret Service, traveling ahead of the President, Vice President, and various foreign dignitaries, helping ensure their safety during their diplomatic missions
After separating from the Navy, Jon found a new a passion within the sport of Natural Bodybuilding. He began competing in 2013 with the International Natural Bodybuilding Association (INBA). He turned Professional in 2014, in the Men’s Physique category, and has competed regularly ever since.
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.
Master Chief SEAL(Ret) Steve “Gonzo” Gonzalez served with distinction for 34 years in the Navy, retiring in 2016. He is a combat veteran with multiple deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Joint Guardian, Operation Desert Shield / Desert Storm and numerous operations around the world. His awards include 2 Bronze Star for Valor, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for Valor, 5 Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals and various other Campaign Medals and Awards.
Gonzo is a native of New Orleans, LA and currently resides in Virginia Beach, VA with his wife and daughter. He is currently the Director of Operations for the SEAL Veterans Foundation and is currently pursuing his Masters of Arts in Strategic Studies as Norwich University.
Matt served with distinction for 22 years as a Navy SEAL, retiring in 2019 as a Command Master Chief. He is a combat veteran with multiple deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn. His awards include the Bronze Star for Valor, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, 5 Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals and the Army Commendation Medal.
Matt is a native of Virginia Beach, VA and currently resides in Islamorada, FL with his wife and three sons. An avid waterman and licensed Captain, he owns and operates Islamorada Coastal Adventures in the Florida Keys.
U.S. Army Special Forces (18A/18D) / USAF Special Warfare (PJ/CRO)
RJ Casey U.S. Army Special Forces (18A/18D) / USAF Special Warfare (PJ/CRO)
RJ has 30+ years of Special Operations experience with the Department of Defense and other government agencies. He has multiple combat tours in countries including Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Pakistan, the Philippines, Somalia, and Syria. RJ is still serving while consulting for corporations, feature film/TV, and other organizations. Like every member of Force Blue, RJ donates time to 501(c)(3) non-profits to help fellow veterans and is committed to the conservation of our amazing oceans.
Suze served over 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, Suze broke from the traditional retirement to contractor route and took a lifelong hobby of diving, and decided to become an instructor. She is an active NAUI, PADI, 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.
Jeff grew up in the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania and attended University of Central Florida majoring in Business Management/ Entrepreneurship. In July 2007 he enlisted in the U.S. Navy to attend Basic Underwater Demolition/ SEAL (BUDS) training in Coronado, California.
After two years of SEAL training he graduated from Class 272 and checked into SEAL Team Five. After his first deployment to Fallujah, Iraq, he was selected for the Navy SEAL Breacher and Sniper Schools and worked with the Secret Service on a POTUS mission for a month in Hawaii.
His second deployment took him to the United Arab Emirates with the Crisis Response Element, and upon returning home he began teaching Combatives and Prisoner Handling to SEAL trainees. As the Lead Petty Officer, Jeff helped develop the Combatives Instructor Course to train SEALs how to lead Combatives training for their platoons. He also traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark for two weeks to help the Danish Frogmen stand up their own Combatives program.
In 2015, he began his transition out of the Navy by participating in The Honor Foundation’s 120 hours of Executive Education at UCSD Rady School of Management. The program inspired him to launch his own swimwear line partnering with 2-time ESPY award-winning adaptive athlete, Kyle Maynard, called Sunga Life.
The company is focused on achieving double bottom line goals of purpose and profitability, where 10% of profits go to veteran charities — specifically those that benefit wounded and amputee Special Operations Forces. Jeff transitioned out of the Navy in June 2017, traveled the world for a year, and is now attending the UCLA Anderson School of Management with a focus on Entrepreneurship.
Kaj Larsen was born in Santa Cruz, California, and graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz with a degree in Political Science. At Harvard University he received his Masters degree in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government. At Harvard, Kaj was awarded a fellowship from the Shorenstein Center for Press, Politics, and Public Policy. He was also a joint fellow at Tufts Jebsen Center for Counter-Terrorism studies. His focus includes international security policy, media politics, and political affairs.
Kaj is an award winning filmmaker and correspondent. He is the creator and executive producer of the Netflix original series The Business of Drugs which debuted as the number 1 streaming show in America. He was the Senior Correspondent and Producer for Now This News. He previously hosted the Emmy award winning series VICE on HBO. At VICE Kaj has produced documentaries on conflict and national security issues. He is the only journalist to be embedded in the Nigerian fight against Boko Haram, and conducted the first exclusive interview with the architect of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation program which became the feature film The Torture Report. Prior to Now This and VICE Kaj was a correspondent at CNN as a member of CNN’s Special Investigations and Documentary unit. His on-camera career began in 2005 when he covered the war in Afghanistan for Current TV. At Current TV Kaj helped develop the Emmy Award winning Vanguard Journalism series. He was the first journalist to bring the issue of waterboarding to the public by having himself waterboarded on TV. He broke the media silence on Somalia by being the first western TV journalist in Mogadishu in over a decade. He has since gone on to report from war zones and conflict spots around the world, in places such as Pakistan, Yemen, Cambodia, Colombia, West Africa, and Latin America. His feature documentaries have covered topics ranging from the drug war in Mexico to the devastating floods in Pakistan to Wikileaks. His reporting is distinguished by his in-field and in-depth examination of difficult and dangerous topics around conflict zones, national security, and criminal justice.
Kaj’s intrepid reporting and powerful filmmaking has put him at the vanguard of a new broadcast journalism. He frequently appears on other media outlets such as ABC, NBC, MSNBC, and the Huffington Post. He was the senior correspondent and host of The Current Election, a daily show about politics and public policy. As a producer Kaj has created hit television series such as US Navy Pirate Hunters, a one-hour special for Spike TV, and LOCKUP the highly rated show about life in American prison for air on MSNBC. He was Aaron Sorkin’s private consultant on the hit HBO series Newsroom. His work has earned him critical acclaim including an Emmy nomination, a Peabody nomination, two Telly awards, and several Golden Cine awards.
Prior to his work in television, Kaj spent five years on active duty serving as a US Navy SEAL. As a Lieutenant he led a team of special warfare personnel in covert operations overseas deploying as a detachment Commander in support of the Global War on Terrorism. He continues his service as a SEAL reserve officer assigned to US Special Operations Command.
Kaj is a two time national champion open-water swimmer, and placed third in the Escape from Alcatraz duathalon. Kaj has lived extensively overseas, including Thailand, where he studied Muay Thai boxing. He is a practitioner of Brazilian jiu-jitsu and frequently competes in mixed martial arts competitions.
Kaj used his pay from the service to help launch The Mission Continues, and served on the Board of Directors for five years. Kaj also serves on the Boards of Advisors to the Veteran service organization Team Rubicon Global. He has deployed three times in support of Team Rubicon to render Humanitarian assistance in Pakistan, the Philippines, and the US.
Cory Zillig is 20 year veteran of the SEAL Teams. He has trained, led, served alongside and under some of the most talented and professional souls in special operations. During his tenure, he completed 12 successful deployments, hundreds of combat missions, and was an instrumental figure in several strategic and historical operations. Throughout his career, Cory was known for his leadership, aggressive commitment to high standards, integrity, and creativity. His awards include; Silver Star, Bronze Star with Valor, Joint Service Commendation medal with Valor, 2 Navy and Marine Corps Commendations with Valor, 4 Presidential Unit Citations and numerous other medals and awards.
After retiring in 2017, Cory now serves the Air Force Research Laboratory, advising on subjects ranging from strategic and tactical planning to innovation and focus in classified technical programs. His experience, leadership skills and creativity have helped numerous companies, government entities and academia focus efforts and field essential equipment.
Despite being born in the middle of America, he has great love for the ocean and loves giving back to her. Cory currently lives in Virginia Beach, VA with his wife of 16 years and their 2 wild and wonderful children. They love to fish, play games and spend time outdoors with each other.
Raised in St. Augustine, FL and a graduate of the University of Florida, Brent is a former Navy SEAL officer, who served from 1997-2004. While on active duty he served at SEAL Team Two, Special Boat Unit Twenty and SEAL Team TEN and conducted 3 overseas deployments.
After leaving the Navy Brent founded and continues to lead a training and consulting company that prepares operators for some of the security challenges they face while deployed. He currently resides in Sarasota, FL with his wife, daughter, and son.
Dan Henderson is a retired US Army Special Forces soldier (Green Beret) with over 20 years on active duty and numerous combat deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and operations in multiple locations throughout Asia. Throughout his career he attended multiple military schools to include Ranger School, Sniper School, Military Free-Fall school and numerous others. Dan attended the Special Forces Combat Diver Qualification Course (CDQC) in Key West and was assigned a Combat Dive Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA). While assigned to the ODA he dove in every environment possible throughout Asia and the US. His last assignment on active duty was at his units Divers Life Support Maintenance Facility instructing the units Pre-Scuba, physically and mentally preparing unit members for CDQC, and assisting dive teams in training and operations.
Dan became a NAUI Instructor and before he retired and began teaching recreational diving in his down time. In September of 2021 he opened his own dive facility in Washington State, Ranger Sport Scuba. Dan working with other Combat Divers, has a unique approach to training that has taken off in the Pacific Northwest. He also works with other non-profit’s teaching disabled veterans scuba diving. One of his top priorities is giving back to veterans and their families.
He is now a NAUI Course Director and the Lead Scuba Instructor at the Divers Institute of Technology in Seattle Washington where he instructs future commercial divers.
Dan has been married to his wife Sarah since 2003, they coach CrossFit together in their downtime. They have one child, Daniel who is an Advanced Open Water diver.
Gavin has over 12 years of Special Operation (SOF) and over two years experience with private contracting. Gavin 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 over 12 years rising to the rank of Master Sergeant (January 2022). During this time in service, Gavin 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.
Adam 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. Adam 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 Adam 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, Adam graduated from Devry University with a bachelor’s degree in Electronics Engineering Technology. Adam works as a GORUCK cadre and enjoys following, trading, and investing in the markets. He currently lives in NJ with his wife and two children.
A combat veteran and Former Navy SEAL, Machine Gunner, Point Man, Sniper and Scout Sniper Instructor, Dale is now the President & CEO of Special Tactical Services, LLC (STS) in Virginia. After 9/11 and the subsequent operational and training events that followed, Dale provided professional, fully licensed, highly trained, Armed Security Teams to counter the worldwide security threats in numerous countries. Under Dale’s leadership, those Armed Security Teams have successfully completed hundreds of high-risk operations without injury, loss or unfavorable publicity. Dale has also consulted on several productions to ensure the accurate portrayal of industry related professions.
During his service as a member of the 212th Rescue Squadron (Alaska Air National Guard), 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. 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”.
“It feels good to actually take the training that we had and implement into real world use. That was one of the things I loved about the military. We had mission. We had purpose. There was something that we were doing every day and there was reason behind it.”
GEOFF REEVES, NAVY SEAL
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