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Navy SEALS storm Newfound Lake for military fundraiser

Sunday News Correspondent

July 15. 2017 12:03AM
U.S. Navy SEALs, both active and retired, showed off their stuff in an exhibition and fundraising event on Newfound Lake in Bristol on Friday. (John Koziol/Sunday News Correspondent)

BRISTOL — Arriving by parachute, helicopter and boat, U.S. Navy SEALs made a huge splash Friday as stars of the inaugural Swim With A Mission, a fundraiser on Newfound Lake for military charities.

The event at Wellington State Park was organized by Phil and Julie Taub of Bedford.

“We couldn’t be any happier,” said Phil Taub, adding he and his wife were extremely grateful for the assistance of more than 200 volunteers.

He pointed to the large number of participants in the 5K and 10K races Friday morning and the 1,000 or so spectators who several hours later watched the SEALs, both active and retired, show off their stuff.

The SEALS parachuted out of a helicopter and later jumped out of the same craft. They also made a waterborne landing with a dog and demonstrated the close working relationship between SEALs and their four-legged colleagues.

Although he didn’t have a final tally on Friday, Taub said Swim With A Mission (SWAM) had raised “lots of money.”

The funds will be divided among the Lakes Region chapter of Veterans Count, Bridge House Homeless Shelter and Veterans’ Advocacy in Plymouth and the Navy SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Fla.

A tri-athlete and a longtime business attorney with Nixon Peabody LLP, Taub said the idea that became SWAM began in 2016 when he observed a SEAL exhibition at the SEAL Museum and inquired about the possibility of a similar exhibition on Newfound, where he and his wife have had a vacation home for three years.

Marc Hogue, a retired Marine Corps gunnery sergeant and a member of the FROG-X Parachute Team, gets ready to splash down Friday afternoon off the beach at Wellington State Park on Newfound Lake after demonstrating a high altitude-low opening (HALO) jump during the Swim With A Mission fundraiser for military charities. (John Koziol/Sunday News Correspondent)

Retired SEAL Nix White, who as a member of the FROG-X Parachute Team, demonstrated a high altitude–low opening (HALO) jump with retired Marine Corps gunnery sergeant Marc Hogue, said Newfound Lake was “awesome.

“It’s a beautiful lake,” White said, and much warmer than the ocean off San Diego, CA., where the SEALs train.

After their jumps, White and Hogue posed for photos with Robert Wilson, 93, of Bridgewater, who had been enjoying a beachfront seat.

A native of Groveton who came to the Lakes Region “for the fishing and stayed,” Wilson wore a cap that announced he had served “four years. Never on land,” aboard the USS Houston, a light cruiser.

Designated the CL-81, that Houston was the namesake of the USS Houston, CA-80, which was sunk on  March 1, 1942, during the Battle of Sunda Strait in the Pacific.

Alex Ray, who founded and leads The Common Man family of restaurants, said his company was happy to provide food for SWAM, and said he was “blown away” with how organized it was for a “first-time event.”

He was also struck by the generosity of the public.

“We didn’t even put prices on the food,” he said, instead asking only for contributions “and we filled two buckets with money.”

“This is America,” Ray summed up, “and I’m proud of it.”

Rick Kaiser, executive director of the Navy SEAL Museum and a retired Navy SEAL Master Chief, said the money raised by SWAM “will directly benefit our Trident House Charities Program, our three-tier approach for supporting our Special Operations community.”

The Navy SEAL Museum “works tirelessly to preserve the history and heritage of our Navy SEALs and their predecessors,” Kaiser said in an e-mail. “We are greatly honored to have been chosen as a beneficiary for Swim With A Mission and are deeply indebted to Phil Taub and his hard-working team.”

A Navy SEAL team, including a canine member, demonstrates a waterborne assault on Newfound Lake on Friday. (John Koziol/Sunday News Correspondent)

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