Friday was a historic day for anyone who’s ever been involved with the US Navy’s diving programs. About 600 guest gathered at the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center Friday afternoon to see the unveiling of the Mark V monument set to honor all graduates of US Navy Dive School.
Navy divers past and present say the Mark V Monument, named Jake, is a perfect addition to Naval Support Activity Panama City.
"Everybody who's ever been in the Navy, especially a naval officer goes up and touches the lone sailor for good luck,” said retired Navy diver Michael Zinszer. “Well here we have Jake, who's the equivalent to that here in Panama City for Navy divers. I've always considered Bay County to be the hub of diving and ocean research. So for Jake to be here - it only makes sense."
"It kinda represents all the guys who've gone before us, guys like myself who are here now, and any guys that are going to come to the school in the future,” said Seaman Adam Coon. “Just what it takes to be a diver, you know, that's a harsh world that hopefully I will be working in and all the divers that worked before me."
Those who took part in the creation of the project say the term “Jake” refers to an old Navy diving suit. Captains would stuff the suit with materials to create an imitation diver that was propped up in their offices.
Organizers worked for 7 years to make the monument a reality. They created and sold 300 17-inch replicas of the statue.