This tattoo was owned by Bill D., a first class petty officer, Navy helicopter rescue swimmer. One of the many brave people defending our country. If you saw Maverick and Goose being fished out of the ocean (Top Gun), you understand his job. We are honored to have him as a patient, and he has become one of our many friends.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, PA. He joined the Navy at 19 years old. After basic training he tested and was selected for advanced rescue training in Pensacola, FL. After graduation the celebration ended at a tattoo shop, and that is where Bill met his reaper, who was placed on his inside right forearm.
Difficult patient from the stand point of water immersion, sun exposure, and wet suit contact. Also extended deployments to Iraq created some long periods of time between some of his treatments.
It's interesting to note the decrease in fading performance during his first tour in Iraq. Stress can take it's toll. Not all rescue missions are successful.
The next tour his fading increased dramatically. Adapt…Adjust…Modify. The majority of our troops experience normal to increased fading during deployment. The combination of heat, physical exertion, and extreme working hours, turns their bodies into tattoo removal machines. Usually resulting in 2 to 3 times the normal fading per treatment.
Bill became an American Hero by saving two downed pilots in one day. It must have been a quite a sight. This man jumping from the helicopter screaming, “Don't fear the reaper.” In heavy seas he is connected to a retrieval cable. He will swim in absolutely any weather condition to risk his life to save yours. If the helo can fly, he will swim.
It came to a point in his life that he preferred his career more than his tattoo. He advanced rapidly, but made the decision for removal in hope of increasing opportunities. His goal was to not have any visible tattoos showing in his uniform. With that being accomplished he will make a career decision at the ripe age of 27.
Bill is cross trained as an ASW anti-submarine warfare specialist. Operating the most advanced systems in the Navy. He is now stationed at HSM-41. Currently training the next generation of rescue swimmers in recovery and ASW tactics. He is being considered for Chief and stay with his team or go to Officer Candidate School. Advancing from enlisted to officer is quite an accomplishment. To those of us who have served, we often respect and appreciate these officers the most.
Wherever Bill's career leads him, it will include adventure. When he is not swimming, teaching, or training he is racing his high performance Mustang Cobra.
Thank you for sharing your story, Bill. We salute you—you are an American Hero.