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HSL-37 Sailors go above, beyond.

Sailors at Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 37 recently went above and beyond the call of duty to help disabled Hawaii residents enjoy the Hawaiian waters in a safe and secure environment.

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HSL-37 Command Master Chief Jim Lyle, Logistics Specialist 3rd Class William Kueffoua and Aviation Electronics Technician 3rd Class Jason Flicstein volunteered at White Plains Beach as part of Access Surf's "Day at the Beach" program. Access Surf is a non-profit organization that provides safe beach access and assistance free of charge to anyone with physical and mental disabilities on the island of Oahu.

On the first Saturday of every month, the volunteers arrive early on White Plains Beach and begin setting up equipment.

"Access Surf is ecstatic about the services that the Navy provides, in particular for setup and teardown," said Lyle. "Their President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Marble used to call up a whole bunch of individuals to set up, and we've removed that burden from him totally."

When the volunteers finished setting up, they donned board shorts and rash guards and escorted people in and out of the water using adaptive wheel chairs, surf boards, life jackets and other special equipment.

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"They just like being in the water," Lyle added. "Some of them have disabilities, so they can't go out by themselves. We just want to show them how fun surfing is."

Flicstein took a surf board out and assisted with water safety. As the surf instructors and the participants were paddling out and riding the waves back to the shore, his job was to make sure everybody was safe.

"I'll paddle out on the rescue boards, just sit out there and make sure that if anybody falls off--any of the surfers--I'll put them back on their board with the surf instructor behind them and just make sure everything is safe," said Flicstein.

Lyle first heard about Access Surf from his wife approximately two years ago and has been personally involved for more than one year. He has since inspired others in his command to volunteer their time for this cause.

"They're afforded a great opportunity here to give back to the local ohana [community]," said Lyle. "It's an excellent opportunity and they'll have a story to tell working here with these participants."

Mark Marble expressed gratitude for Lyle's support and all the contributions the volunteers from HSL-37 bring to the organization.

"He saw the need for us to set up all the equipment early, to transport all the equipment and then to set it up, tear it down, brush off everything," said Marble. "It's physical work and to do that with a handful of volunteers that are sometimes here and sometimes not, it was very hard for the first few years, so when we met Jim and his team, it's been a godsend."

Marble explained Access Surf's impact on the local community can be seen on the faces of its participants.

"They leave with the biggest smiles on their faces and a changed heart," he said.

Kueffoua, a regular volunteer, described one such experience.

"I remember two months ago when I helped a lady with disabilities. She doesn't walk. She told me she really liked the program; she liked the way we helped her swim. Actually, she never swam in her life.

"Now she can swim like many others," Kueffoua explained.

"It means a lot to me. Actually, a lot of my own ideology is that life is all about helping others. I feel happy; I feel my value when I help."

Honnick is assigned to Navy Public Affairs

Support Element West, Det. Hawaii.

Story and photo by MC2 Paul D. Honnick
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Title Annotation:Voluntoorism; Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light at Access Surf Hawaii's program
Author:Honnick, Paul D.
Publication:All Hands
Geographic Code:1U9HI
Date:Sep 1, 2010
Words:612
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