NEWPORT, Rhode Island – Sixteen-year-old Sea Cadet Petty Officer 3rd Class Jack Dabb, from Battleship New Jersey (BB-62) Division in Camden, New Jersey, attended a Sea Cadet Leadership Training in Newport and had an opportunity to share a once-in-a-lifetime experience, Dec. 28.
The commanding officer of the training, retired Master Chief Avionics Maintenance Technician (AW/IW) Barry Crawford, realized a rare convergence of history was about to occur and saw an opportunity for Dabb to bring a little of his personal story to his classmates.
Dabb is also the youngest member of the Classic Diving Organization, LLC, and participates in deep-sea dives on historic vessels. In December 2021, just a couple of weeks before attending POLA in Newport, he had the privilege of participating in the first live dive to USS Utah (BB-31), submerged in Pearl Harbor for 80 years. Watch the historic dive: https://youtu.be/zjQipLBHohU.
“This leadership training event in Newport is held at Tomich Hall, which is where the U.S. Navy teaches advanced leadership to senior enlisted members of the military. The school’s namesake refers to Chief Watertender Peter Tomich, who posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his actions on board USS Utah on Dec. 7, 1941,” said Crawford.
Tomich and his fellow shipmates remain entombed on-board Utah. Still, Tomich is credited with saving the lives of hundreds of men through his heroic and selfless actions. For the Chief Petty Officers, Tomich is an iconic hero of our Navy’s past we reference when developing the leaders of today.”
With cooperation between the U.S. Navy and the National Park Service, the Classic Diving Organization chose Dabb to participate in this rare event. Watch Dabb on Facebook live on Dec. 28, 2021 at 1 p.m. EST, share his diving experience: https://www.facebook.com/ATCNewEngland/
“Jack was selected to participate as a crew member and safety diver for the USS Utah live dive broadcast with the National Park Service due to his vast experience with the MK-V diving apparatus,” said U.S. Navy Master Diver John Hopkins, Jr., and co-founder of the Classic Diving Organization, who is stationed at Hickam Air Force Base in Pearl Harbor.
"Jack was an important team member, and with his assistance, it made the event so much easier. This event was to bring back attention to the salvage efforts that took place after the attack on Dec. 7, 1941. This was the first live dive event for Utah, and it was the final piece for the remembrance events for the 80th anniversary of the attack."
Hopkins added that Dabb has participated with the diving organization on other events in the past.
“He flawlessly folded into our team, and all of us, including the Park Service personnel, appreciated his time, effort, and great work ethic. It is always a joy to work with Jack, and I look forward to working with him again in the future,” said Hopkins.
Crawford added that having the opportunity to present pictures and Dabb’s experience diving to USS Utah and inside Tomich Hall was amazing.
“The faculty assigned to the U.S. Navy Senior Enlisted Academy were invited to the presentation, making a rare connection to things they walk by each day at work,” said Crawford. “Chief Tomich’s Medal of Honor, citation from President Roosevelt, and relics from Utah are on the hallowed quarterdeck at Tomich Hall.”
Crawford added that thousands of Navy leaders have walked by these cherished objects and could only imagine what Tomich sacrificed for his shipmates. “And here we have this 16-year-old Sea Cadet who saw it and shared it with us. What a great experience for us and the 85 participants of POLA Newport 2021.”
What does Dabb think about all this? “Diving on the USS Utah was an experience like no other. I truly can never express what this opportunity means to me because it was so monumental. It made me realize that without history, we have no future.”
For more information about U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps, visit www.seacadets.org.