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Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

Operation Amped surfs with those who serve

By Cpl. Michael Iams | Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton | August 26, 2013

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Cpl. Toran Gaal, a dpuble amputee, rides a wave during the Operation Amped surf clinic at San Onofre beach here, Aug. 24. Many veterans use surfing as an escape while others surf as a part of their new lifestyle.

Cpl. Toran Gaal, a dpuble amputee, rides a wave during the Operation Amped surf clinic at San Onofre beach here, Aug. 24. Many veterans use surfing as an escape while others surf as a part of their new lifestyle. (Photo by Cpl. Michael Iams)


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Surf instructors assist and record sufers as they attept to catch a wave during the Operation Amped surf clinic at San Onofre beach here Aug. 24. At the end of the day veterans, instructors and volunteers build comradery by sitting around a campfire and singing karaoke, eating s’mores or having a jam session.

Surf instructors assist and record sufers as they attept to catch a wave during the Operation Amped surf clinic at San Onofre beach here Aug. 24. At the end of the day veterans, instructors and volunteers build comradery by sitting around a campfire and singing karaoke, eating s’mores or having a jam session. (Photo by Cpl. Michael Iams)


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Cpl. Carlos Torres, a double amputee, attempts to stand as he catches a wave during the Operation Amped surf clinic at the San Onofre beach here Aug. 24. During the 3-day surf camp, veterans learned to surf and built comradery with each other and the surf community.

Cpl. Carlos Torres, a double amputee, attempts to stand as he catches a wave during the Operation Amped surf clinic at the San Onofre beach here Aug. 24. During the 3-day surf camp, veterans learned to surf and built comradery with each other and the surf community. (Photo by Cpl. Michael Iams)


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Cpl. Carlos Torres, a double amputee, puts on his legs before going out into the water to ride a few waves at the Operation Amped surf clinic at San Onofre beach here Aug. 24. The disabilities of the veterans range from traumatic brain injury  to amputations to post traumatic stress disorder.

Cpl. Carlos Torres, a double amputee, puts on his legs before going out into the water to ride a few waves at the Operation Amped surf clinic at San Onofre beach here Aug. 24. The disabilities of the veterans range from traumatic brain injury to amputations to post traumatic stress disorder. (Photo by Cpl. Michael Iams)


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Two surf instructors assist Cpl. Toran Gaal, a double amputee, onto his surfboard to catch another wave during the Operation Amped surf clinic at San Onofre beach here, Aug. 24. During the three days, veterans are paired with a surf instructor to teach them the fundamentals of surfing.

Two surf instructors assist Cpl. Toran Gaal, a double amputee, onto his surfboard to catch another wave during the Operation Amped surf clinic at San Onofre beach here, Aug. 24. During the three days, veterans are paired with a surf instructor to teach them the fundamentals of surfing. (Photo by Cpl. Michael Iams)


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Jamie and Bri Roberts learn to stand on the surfboard during the Operation Amped surf clinic at San Onofre beach here Aug. 24. Billabong helped provide equipment and wetsuits for the veterans to use. Jamie is a sales job supervior and Bri is a office manager for Apollo Pavers.

Jamie and Bri Roberts learn to stand on the surfboard during the Operation Amped surf clinic at San Onofre beach here Aug. 24. Billabong helped provide equipment and wetsuits for the veterans to use. Jamie is a sales job supervior and Bri is a office manager for Apollo Pavers. (Photo by Cpl. Michael Iams)


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CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Operation Amped held its seventh annual surf clinic at the San Onofre Beach here Aug. 23.

The 3-day clinic was held to give back to those who've been wounded in service to our country by helping them learn to surf, said Tom Tapp, founder and president of Operation Amped.

The disabilities of the veterans ranged from traumatic brain injury  to amputations to post traumatic stress disorder.

“We adapt our instruction to help the veterans do as much as they can and realize their capabilities,” said Tapp.

Billabong helped provide equipment and wetsuits for the veterans to use.

“We have been with Operation Amped since the beginning,” said Josh Harper, marketing manager with Billabong. “We help provide the wetsuits, rash guards and some surf instructors to teach the vets.”

During the three days, veterans are paired with a surf instructor to teach them the fundamentals of surfing.

“When I’m out in the water, I sometimes get into the mentality as a squad leader and I don’t want to fail,” said Cpl. Toran Gaal, a double amputee and squad leader with 5th Marines, Charlie Company, 1st Platoon. “Majority of the time I am carefree and in my own world and it’s a calming feeling.”

At the end of the day veterans, instructors and volunteers built comradery by sitting around a campfire, singing karaoke, eating s’mores or having a jam session.

“I love surfing and the community,” said Cpl. Carlos Torres, a double amputee and assault men with 1st Tank Battalion. “Being here and meeting new people and riding the waves with them is a rewarding experience.”

Many veterans use surfing as an escape while others surf as a part of their new lifestyle.

“As an amputee I need to keep active and surfing is something I have never done before,” said Gaal. “While gaining this new lifestyle I am all about doing something new and making life enjoyable.”
Imageamputee ImageCalif. ImageCalifornia ImageCarlos Torres ImageJosh Harper ImageMarine Corps Base Camp Pendleton ImageMarines ImageMCB Camp Pendleton ImageOperation Amped ImageSan Onofre ImageTom Tapp ImageToran Gaal

3 Comments


  • Peg o harsh 317 days ago
    Todd. Unbelievably great stuff!! Thank you for ur committment to vets
    Please send me summer 2014 scheduled events
    On east coast. Nj?
    .. Don't surf but would like to volunteer
    Ponh@aol.com
  • Carolyn S 337 days ago
    Thanks to the men and women who give of their time and resources to hold this event year after year. To those who have been wounded in service, you are the heroes of this event and I'm thrilled you were able to participate and hopefully enjoy some fun time surfing or relaxing in the water.
  • Joseph Gabunilas 338 days ago
    In addition to Billabong, we want to thank MCCS San Onofre Beach Staff, Chipotle, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Nalu's Hawaiian Grill and the 90 plus volunteers who helped make this event a HUGE SUCCESS!

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