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ASF EXP 1 A
ASF EXP 1 B
ASF EXP 1 C
Cocoa Beach
121 Scrub #1
121 Scrub #2
STS-121
ASF EXP 2 A
ASF EXP 2 B
ASF EXP 2 C
ASF EXP 2 D
ASF EXP 2 E
STS-116

ASF Expedition 1

Exploring Pillars Reef
These photographs document ASF Expedition 2.
Photo Credits: Les, Mary, and mine
Linn prepares for egress
Linn steps out for a giant stride
Linn prepares for egress at Pillars Reef
Linn steps out for a giant stride
I step off for my final giant stride of expedition 2
My final giant stride during ASF Expedition 2
My plunge into the water
I plunge into the water
Send in the Marines
Send in the Marines!
Al, me, and John at Pillars reef
Al, Me, and John float in an alien world at Pillars reef
Sea life at Pillars Reef
Sea life at Pillars Reef
John explores the pillars
John explores the pillars
A moray eel inhabiting a coral at Pillars
A moray eel that has taken up residence in Pillars Reef
Lexie, Dee, and Mary snorkel in the distance
Lexie, Dee, and Mary snorkel off in the distance
Mary enjoys the snorkel view of Pillars Reef
Mary enjoys the view of Pillars Reef
Lexie snorkels under the surface at Pillars Reef
Lexie cruises beneath the surface at Pillars Reef
Al Worden relaxes after another successful day of diving
Al Worden relaxes at the end of ASF Expedition 2
The last dive of the expedition was targeted for a dive site known as "Pillars Reef".   Lexie and I had also been on this reef back in April.  This was one of the few dive sites in the world to feature pillar corral.  Lexie was still having equalization problems.  She asked Les what she should do.  Les told her that if it hurt, she should stop.  Lexie followed his recommendation and chose to snorkel on top.  At this point I felt proud that she was able to make that call and not force herself into something that would hurt her.

Linn, John, Al and I did our giant strides into the water.  I was feeling pretty comfortable at this point.  I tried to concentrate on keeping my legs straight.  I also focused on breath control.  I had no fears under the sea at this point.  I was relaxed and focused on  become more efficient with my swimming.

The pillar coral had to be one of the greatest things that I had seen underwater.  I felt like I was on another planet.  Who could ever imagine what sights lie beneath the sea.

My biggest problem during these dives was when someone would stop to look for an eel.  I was Okay as long as we were moving.  When they stopped, I found it really difficult to stay in the same spot.  I was really afraid that I would bump into the coral and erase decades of growth.

I also found on this dive that my mask was getting more water in it than it had on previous dives.  I wasn't sure what caused this.  I didn't panic though; I followed the procedure to clear it.  It really was no big deal.

Once again, Al came over to check my pressure gauge.  I found that I was again down to 800 PSI. It was time to head back to the boat.  Al came up to the surface with me.  I wished that he would have stayed with Linn, John, and Les.  I knew that I could get back to the boat at this point.  With a dive buddy though, you should never go off alone.

I located the boat and finned my way towards it.  Al followed behind me.  We got to the boat and I climbed back on board.  Al chose to stay down below for a while and explored the area directly underneath the boat.

In some respects, I was saddened that this would be my last dive on this trip.  In other ways, I was relieved that it was over.  For someone of my swimming ability it takes a great deal of courage to attempt something like scuba diving.

Mary, Lexie, Dee, and Marilyn were off snorkeling.  I was glad that they were having as good of time on the surface as we had down below.   After a while, all of the divers returned followed shortly afterwards by the snorkelers.

We doffed our gear and made ready for the ride back to port.  Mary, Lexie, and I were sitting on one side of the boat with Al sitting across from us.

At one point, Al said to me, ‘Jerry you are amazing.”  I was confused; I had no idea what he was talking about. At first I thought he was referring to taking Lexie on all of these trips.  I had to ask him what he meant.  He answered, “For someone who was unable to swim, to do the things that you do underwater now is just amazing.”  I was flattered.  I probably turned red from embarrassment.  I didn't think my accomplishment was any big deal.  I didn't do what I did to impress people.  What I did, I did for me.  I did it for the experience.  Although, I must admit that it made me feel really special  to receive this compliment from someone who had flown to the Moon.

About this time John came up.  He told me “Jerry you have the second biggest cajones of anyone that I have ever met.”  This meant a lot coming from John.  John was a former Marine Recon Diver One.  This was Marine equivalent of the Navy Seals.  For him to tell me that was the ultimate compliment even though I am not worthy of that praise. Nobody faces greater dangers than the Navy Seals or Marine Recon One.  I have the utmost respect for people who serve in our armed services.

John then explained that the only other person he had met with bigger cajones was someone he knew in the Marines.  This person had bluffed his way into airborne training without any prior airborne experience.  The night before his first parachute jump, this Marine received instructions from his experienced buddies on what he needed to do for a jump.  The next day with that meager amount of training this Marine jumped out of the airplane.

I was blown away by their comments.  Most people would probably call me insane for doing what I did.   Al and John were just impressed.  With gaining the respect from those peers, it just does not get any better.

That night our adventure crew met up for dinner at Coconuts.  It was a restaurant where we had dined with Scott Carpenter just a few months before.  Al and his wife Jill were in a little bit of a rush that night.  Ohio State and the University of Michigan had big football games that night.  They wanted to get back to the room to watch the games.

Later we caught up with Al.  He was watching the University of Michigan on the big screen television in the hotel lobby.  It didn't matter to me who won the games that night.  I knew that no one would experience a bigger victory than we did with our diving experience.

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UPDATED : June 11, 2008
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