‘Cacti’ share training, waves with pro surfing stars

| February 19, 2016 | 0 Comments
Soldiers assigned to 2-35th Inf. Regt., 3rd BCT, 25th ID, take a group picture with pro surfing stars before paddling out at Ehukai Sand Bar on Feb. 6.

Soldiers assigned to 2-35th Inf. Regt., 3rd BCT, 25th ID, take a group picture with pro surfing stars before paddling out at Ehukai Sand Bar on Feb. 6.

1st Lt. Zachary Farkas
2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment
3rd Brigade Combat Team                                     
25th Infantry Division
NORTH SHORE — Professional surfers Kelly Slater, John John Florence and Sunny Garcia hosted Soldiers from the “Cacti,” 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, at Ehukai Beach Park, here, Feb. 6.

This event was the second part of a community engagement program set up by 2-35th Inf. Regt.

The surfers decided to bring Cacti Soldiers to their workplace of Ehukai Beach Park, home of the fabled Bonzai Pipeline.

Lt. Col. Ryan P. O'Connor, commander, 2-35th Inf. Regt., 3rd BCT, 25th ID, presents Kelly Slater, 11 time WSL World Champion, a comanders coin and “Cacti” shirt.

Lt. Col. Ryan P. O’Connor, commander, 2-35th Inf. Regt., 3rd BCT, 25th ID, presents Kelly Slater, 11 time WSL World Champion, a commanders coin and “Cacti” shirt.

Surfing legends
Eleven-time world champion Slater, along with Garcia and Florence, met several dozen Cacti Soldiers and family members for the informal surfing clinic. Both groups made introductions on the beach, and then paddled out into the waves.

After an hour and a half surfing session, surfers and Soldiers watched the sunset and exchanged surf and war stories.

Sgt. Justin Crews, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, found that his time with the surfers was amazing. He enjoyed learning Hawaiian culture.

“Watching Kelly Slater drop in on some clean fast waves was exciting,” Crews said. “The whole experience over all was a blast and an honor for the other service members and myself that they would take time out of their schedule to show us how real professionals do it.”

The relationship between Cacti Soldiers and professional surfers began in December during Cacti’s Operation Liz Granger, a battalion air assault and situational training exercise (STX) at Bellows Training Area.

All four surfers grew up on the North Shore of Oahu, and they have been geographically close to Schofield Barracks and the surrounding training areas, but have had limited interaction with Soldiers on Oahu.

Surfer training
To bridge the gap between the surfing and military communities, the Florence brothers, Rothman and Williams were invited to participate in Operation Liz Granger.

When the surfers arrived at Bellows Training Area, they were greeted by the “Gundogs,” Delta Co., and given a familiarization of mounted automatic weapons systems. Afterwards, the surfers received an operations order brief. The mission was to execute a mounted movement to contact, followed by an attack of an urban objective with the Soldiers.

The Soldiers and the surfers were successful in their mission, but during the urban attack, surfer Rothman was assessed as a notional casualty. As part of the role-playing exercise, a medic immediately treated Rothman.

The Florence brothers and Williams then assisted the platoon sergeant in calling up a medical evacuation request. The field litter ambulance on station transported Rothman, escorted by the Gundogs, to the battalion aid station where he was treated by medics.

Next, the surfers visited the Cacti Scouts’ observation post on a hilltop overlooking the Bellows Training Area. The scouts gave the surfers an overview of their equipment and their mission requirements.

The surfers then visited Soldiers from the rest of the Cacti battalion for lunch and photo opportunities. Afterward, John Florence shared his thoughts about the training.

“I was really stoked to be able to come check this out. Everything they do for us, and the training is awesome,” Florence said.

The surfers have an open invitation to future Cacti training exercises, and Cacti members hope to continue their relationship with Oahu’s surfing community.

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Category: Community, Training

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