Soldiers treated to Brac hospitality

There were some life-changing moments for wounded US soldiers visiting Cayman Brac as part of the Underwater Warriors Foundation inaugural trip recently.

The four men and a woman were part of a programme developed by the US-based charity foundation, which promotes health and healing through diving.

Underwater Warriors programme

Soldiers in the Underwater Warriors programme pose with the crew from Indepth Watersports on Cayman Brac. In the first row is Sgt. Brian Price (in the wheelchair). Second row from left are soldiers Lauri Hill, Eric Roberts and Robert Shrode, Craig Burhart (Indepth Watersports owner), Soldier JD Greer, Debra Allen (singer) and Nancy McPhearson (president and co-founder of Underwater Warriors).
Photo: Submitted

Upon their arrival at the Gerrard Smith Airport, the soldiers were welcomed by more than 300 cheering residents including over 60 members of the Cayman Brac Cadet Corp and the District Commissioner, Ernie Scott. Accompanying the soldiers were singer/songwriter Deborah Allen, renowned underwater videographer John Chatterton and Jarod Rogers of CBS (Nashville affiliate).

First elected MLA for the Sister Islands Ms O’Connor-Connolly, was proud to be part of the delegation that welcomed the heroic soldiers to the island.

‘I wished them a wonderful and relaxing time on Cayman Brac and felt confident they would experience the great hospitability of our people as they embarked on their week of healing,’ she said.

Minister responsible for District Administration, Kurt Tibbetts was pleased to donate $7,000 from his ministry to sponsor airline tickets for the soldiers.

District Commissioner for the Sister Islands Ernie Scott said ‘Mr Tibbetts and our ministry recognise the benefits that wellness tourism can bring to our economy and we’re eager to support these soldiers in their recovery. Cayman Brackers are a warm and welcoming people and by making these heroes feel at home I’m certain our islands will reap rewards in the future.’

Melissa Wall, programme director was pleased to finally bring the soldiers to Cayman Brac.

‘It was just meant to be. The private, public sector and the island came together to make this the most successful and unforgettable event in the lives of these soldiers,’ she said.

MLA Moses Kirkconnell echoed Ms. Wall’s comments by saying ‘this programme proved once again the wonderful things that can be achieved when private and public sector partners join their efforts together for the betterment of the community on a whole.’

During the week-long visit the soldiers had their faces moulded to become a part of Cayman’s Lost City of Atlantis, sampled the local food, dove in the cobalt blue waters off Cayman Brac and spent time with many Brackers who enjoyed the experience as much as the soldiers.

‘The only way to describe my time here is awesome. This has been the most fun I have ever had in my life. I got certified in the Brac and will be a part of its great history by having my statue in Atlantis,’ said Bryan Pryce.

‘It has been amazing, wonderful and more that I ever expected. I appreciate the way the island welcomed us,’ said Erik Roberts.

‘The people here have been nothing short of fabulous and the food was delicious. Being in the water has been inspiring and it gives us hope despite the wounds we have suffered,’ said Lori Hill

‘I have had the time of my life and have been enjoying every moment. It’s like no place I have ever been before,’ said Robert Shrode.

The hospitality we have experienced here is fabulous. I am taken back by the unity of the island and the foundation couldn’t have chosen a better place,’ said JD Greer.

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