Navy Lt. Snyder Swims to Gold One Year After IED Blast

Navy Lt. Brad Snyder swimming during one of the meets at the 2012 London Paralympic Games.

A year to the day an improvised explosive device took his eyesight, Navy Lt. Brad Snyder won his second gold medal in his favorite event, the 400 freestyle, at the 2012 London Paralympic Games.

Snyder swam away from his competition, finishing with a time of 4:32:41, beating the next swimmer by almost a full 6 seconds. Snyder previously had earned another gold in the 100 freestyle and a silver medal in the 50 freestyle during the Games that run through Sept. 9, 2012.

“This is great for me, it’s great for my family, but I take a lot of solace that it inspires other people,” Snyder said in an earlier interview with the Paralympics website. “If I can get someone out of bed, if I can get someone that relevance and success back in their life through my story, then that’s what I want to do.”

The former U.S. Naval Academy swim team captain said helping other people has served to motivate him.


Former Naval Academy Swimmer Brings Home the Gold

Brad Snyder, former captain of the U.S. Naval Academy swim team, dives into the pool at the 2012 Paralympics Games in London. Photo courtesy of

So far, Brad Snyder will bring home a gold and a silver medal from London, and the Games aren’t even over until September 9. That from a swimmer who calls himself “mediocre” – not because he’s blind but because he’s short – under 6 feet.

The St. Petersburg, Florida native won a gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle Friday and a silver in the 50-meter freestyle Saturday inthe 2012 Paralympic Games .

Snyder is a former captain of the U.S. Naval Academy’s swim team. The Paralympics mark his return to a sport that he loves and still practices despite losing his sight to bomb blast. The Washington Post:

In Afghanistan a year ago, a booby-trap bomb blew up in front of Snyder, a Navy lieutenant in an explosive-ordnance disposal unit. His face took the brunt of the blast. He now has two glass eyes.

As part of his rehabilitation, he got back into the swimming pool, where he had spent much of his high school and college years. Five months after the accident, he swam in a meet at the Olympic training center in Colorado. To his surprise, his times made him eligible for monthly stipends and travel expenses to national trials.

“It’s just kind of fed from there,” Snyder said. “The more success I’ve had, the more seriously I’ve taken it.”

When the Games conclude, Snyder  plans to return Baltimore where he’s got an internship at RedOwl Analytics, a tech start-up in Baltimore.

Naval Academy on Track for Record 2016 Female Class

The U.S. Naval Academy Class of 2011 graduation and commissioning ceremony of 728 ensigns and 260 Marine Corps 2nd lieutenants in Annapolis, Md. Photo by Specialist 1st Class Chad Runge.

As of Monday, 295 young women accepted appointments to the U.S. Naval Academy and that could result in the largest female class in the academy’s history since it began accepting women in 1976.

The dean of admissions, Stephen Latta, told the Naval Academy’s Board of Visitors, that the class of 2010 held the current record number of female students with 272 women. That was about 22 percent of the 2010 class.

Overall, the class of 2016 will be smaller, so the percentage of  female students will be higher and could be more than 24 percent female.

Blinded Naval Academy Grad Invited to Swim in Paralympics


Elyse and Brad Snyder prior to the 2011 Tampa Navy Ball. Photo courtesy of Navy Sports.

Brad Snyder, a 2006 U.S. Naval Academy graduate and swim team captain,  has earned an invitation to swim with the U.S. Paralympic Team in the London 2012 Games.

Snyder competed in his first swim meet this past weekend since being blinded by an explosive six months ago in Afghanistan. Swimming the 50 free at the Bobby Flowers Swim Meet in Colorado Springs, Snyder finished just 1.8 seconds off the paralympic blind division world record.

His performance earned him an invitation to become part of the team. Snyder swam for four years while at the Naval Academy. After graduating, he became an Explosive Ordinance Disposal officer.

The St. Petersburg, Florida native also ran a 10K race in Clearwater with the guidance of his therapist just two months after the improvised explosive devise (IED) left him completely blind.

You can read more about Snyder’s swimming and military service in a Navy Sports article.

Military Service Academies See Increase in Sexual Assaults

Reports of sexual assaults increased in the past year at the military service academies according to the Department of Defense Annual Report on Sexual Harassment and Violence  for the academic year of 2010-2011 which was just released.

The report shows an increase in 2010-2011 with 65 reports of sexual assault involving cadets and midshipmen, compared to 41 reports in the previous academic year.

“One sexual assault is one too many,” Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said in a DOD news release.

“Whether it’s in our academies or our ranks, at sea or ashore, there’s no place for this unacceptable behavior,” he continued. “We treat each other with dignity in this institution. I expect everyone in this department to live up to that high standard.”

Site visits were conducted at the U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Naval Academy and the U.S. Air Force Academy, to review policies, trainings, and procedures. Cadets and midshipmen also participated in focus groups.

The academies are being required to evaluate and measure their sexual harassment and assault prevention programs.

Additionally, two new policies relating to sexual assault were announced in a news release:

One allows a service member who makes an unrestricted report of a sexual assault to request an expedited transfer to a new duty station. A restricted report, which is confidential, allows a victim to seek medical aid and counseling but is not communicated to the chain of command.

The second new policy standardizes retention periods for sexual assault records across the military services to ensure victims have extended access to those documents.

You can read the annual report HERE.

A Mom, 4 Kids, 4 Services: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines

Off the Base has a new contributor. She goes by the nom de plume of Momma B on her blog: 4starmilitarymom. She’s mother to four children – all are in the military – one in each branch Navy, Army, Marines and Air Force. So far, as a mother she’s gone through four deployments in the last two years with her children. The youngest is still in ROTC in college. She is an “Army brat” growing up and currently is based in Bangladesh. Here’s her first contribution. It’s important to note three of  her children are pilots.

Momma B in a flight simulator.

September 7, 2011


“Mom, I was surprised you didn’t call me about the crash? ” CRASH?! I had heard about a possible F/18 crash but I had been very busy that week. When I Googled, I could find no mention of it. Besides my Marine was sick in Florida not in California….My mom radar was definitely on the blink. As an aviator’s mom (make that triple aviator’s mom ) I scan the news daily for any mention of a mishap that might remotely involve my boys or any of their compadres. And when a news crawl or Google alert pops up I am on the phone, if possible, checking  to make sure my kid is safely on the ground.

Such is the life of a military pilot’s mom. It doesn’t matter if they are deployed or not. Every day, they do battle with physics. My Marine in his F/18 defies gravity and the speed of sound, flying way too close to another airplane to make a mom comfortable. My P/3 NFO is up for hours in OLD airplanes-thankfully soon to be replaced. And my Army ROTC cadet in helicopters-those things fly way too close to the ground, don’t you think?

Momma B in a Bangladesh market talking to her sister in New York.

But this accident sneaked right past me. Thankfully the pilot – a buddy from flight school – and the “Whizzo” escaped to tell the tale, despite sustaining serious injuries.

I should mention I am also the wife of an aviator who has flown for 40 years in and out of the military. I have seen the black smoke of an accident more than once. But when it is your kid at the stick, it brings the word worry to a whole new level.

When two of them deployed last year to the far east, people would ask me if I was relieved they weren’t in Afghanistan. Not really – the skies they flew near were not necessarily friendly. But that is what they do – and they are proud of it. So I pray, and scan the news, and pray some more. The Navy Hymn has a verse for aviators ” Lord guard and guide the men who fly…” yes please do.

Navy Captain to be Relieved due to Lewd Videos

Capt. Owen Honors, U.S. Navy photo.

National Public Radio is reporting that the Enterprise Captain is to be relieved of command. Military officials tell NPR that Capt. Owen Honors will be relieved of his command because of lewd videos he produced and broadcast to the crew aboard the aircraft carrier.

Click here for the NPR report.

However, Capt. Honors also has support according to some military blogs.

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