The Fitch Foundation and our Navy Veteran, Rescue Swimmer and adaptive athlete Bobby ‘Boog’ Powell has completed his 15 day, 224 mile swim from the Pentagon to the USS Wisconsin in Norfolk Virginia on June 17th. This PTSD and suicide awareness swim had a profound emotional impact on so many people along the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay route, that each day we spoke with families who have been affected by a loved one’s death by their own hand, two women literally collapsed in Bobby’s arms along the way being overcome with grief.
The unwavering swimmer made the swim look easy each morning as he launched, and although he was exhausted at the completion of each leg, he stood by to speak with any and every one waiting on the beach with well-wishes, concerns, and or questions, as this mission is of vital importance to him made obvious by his seemingly tireless resolve to bring awareness to his cause. Many called him a “Beast” for being able to do what he did each day, we certainly think so. His dedication to conditioning proved to be a plan well executed, especially considering the fact he has a titanium rod holding his left arm together.
The logistics involved in supporting this swim was as equally well prepared as the swimmer himself. Although several support boats dropped out, others were ready and able to fulfill the role of waterborne Sherpa.
In Dahlgren Virginia, Navy Dahlgren shut down their live fire test range as to allow Bobby to swim through. (special Thanks to Donny Preston and his crew for supporting this event by interrupting their daily routine in observance of this selfless feat.) However, we were not without our series of snafu as before he could launch that morning, Bobby’s support boat broke down en route. Navy range boats brought extra gas but to no avail as that did not fix the issue of the stalled boat. The Navy then towed the support boat to a nearby marina where it took them all day to get the vessel running again. In the meantime, Dahlgren contacted one of their recent retirees who has a boat and asked if he would stand in as safety which he did right away and Bobby was able to complete the days swim without further ado. (special thanks to Dusty Remington and Wes Jones)
Three people Bobby is directly or indirectly associated with committed suicide during the swim. One of his former Rescue Swimmer brothers told him about his Seabee (naval construction engineer) best friend who took his life on day ONE of the swim. During the second week of the swim, a teenage girl Bobby has known for the last 7 years took her life. A few hours after finishing the swim, he found out that a recent Navy retiree had taken his life a few days earlier. This mission is not over for Bobby nor us.
A special heartfelt THANK YOU to all those who lent support to any and all parts of this event!