One of the very first people I met when I became involved with the WAVES Project was Scott Culbertson. I believe it was in that first contact and conversation with Scott and his wife Cathy that I started to sense the level of dedication to a cause the volunteers at the WAVES Project have. I showed up to the first meeting already interested, but still hesitant. It was the demonstrated desire to help our War Wounded Vets that hooked me fully. Just being able to chat with Scott and Cathy for a while settled any questions.
Scott was born in Albuquerque NM. His father was a Navy Diver and EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) specialist stationed at Sandia Base. At the time, Sandia was the premier nuclear research station in the US.
At a very early age, Scott’s family moved from New Mexico to Louisiana as his father continued his diving career in civilian life. Much like the military, members of the diving industry are moved around the world. As a result, before setting in Fallbrook, CA Scott became a world traveler, living in turn in Brisbane AUS, Singapore and , Houston TX.
While living in Australia, Scott’s family became interested in wine making. Upon settling in Fallbrook they continued to learn more about wine making and the industry. Ultimately the family built the Culbertson Winery in the Temecula Wine Country. The winery quickly became one of the premier wineries in the United States, with their wines being served at the White House.
Scott first attended Palomar Community College and then Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff AZ, where he earned a degree in Anthropology. While he worked on his education he continued to stay very involved in the family business. “I came home from Flag monthly to help the rest of the family with building of the winery”.
Upon graduation he went into the Sales and Marketing side of the beverage industry, ultimately becoming the Southern California Regional Sales Manager for Culbertson Winery. After several years working throughout California in the wine industry, Scott landed back in the Temecula Valley, this time in Real Estate. While working as an agent, Scott’s interest turned more and more to computers and information technology ultimately leading him to change careers. He was hired by the Murrieta School District with the IT department of the newly built Murrieta Mesa High School, the position he holds today.
As our conversation turned to diving, I was surprised. I had expected that Scott would have been in the water his whole life. I know diving with him, it sure seems that way. I was wrong. Despite growing up in a family that had dedicated itself to commercial diving, Scott didn’t experience SCUBA until he was in his early 20s. His first time on SCUBA came during a vacation trip to the Virgin Islands. After completing a “resort course” he dove on the RMS Rhone. The Rhone was wrecked in British Virgin Islands off the Coast of Salt Island in 1867. Over the years the Rhone has become one of the premier dive sites in the BVI, having once been used in filming “The Deep” with Jacqueline Bisset diving on the superstructure.
It was 2003 when he was on his honeymoon with his new wife Cathy in Kauai, Hawaii that he had his next chance to get in the water. Despite only being able to do some snorkeling for a few days, this really ignited the spark. In 2006 he and Cathy decided to look into finally becoming fully certified divers. “I asked Cathy about getting certified, and she said she wasn’t going to be left on the beach!”
To this end they met Steve and Barbara Rubin, the owners of the local SCUBA store in Temecula. Over the next few years they dove extensively in Southern California and spent several vacations traveling the world. Scott has his Open Water, Advanced Open Water and Rescue Diver certifications through PADI. He also has multiple PADI Specialties including Wreck, Boat, Drift, Peak Performance Buoyancy, and EAN/Nitrox. Both he and Cathy have earned the title of Master SCUBA Diver.
Over the years Scott and Cathy’s friendship with the Rubin’s grew well beyond the normal SCUBA student/instructor relationship. During the summer of 2012 Steve was sharing a story about the son-in-law of a friend who suffered traumatic amputations of three limbs while serving in Afghanistan. Steve planned to work with this Marine (Jon Schumacher) to teach him scuba and about the Handicap Scuba Training he would be taking to make that happen. (Toread more of more about Jon’s story check the article about him on this blog.)
When Steve told Scott and Cathy about his idea to help combat wounded veterans like Jon through Scuba, they loved the idea. They have been very involved in volunteering their time in many different areas and helping to grow the organization into what is now the WAVES Project. The background Scott has in science lead him to do research on the subject of aquatic therapy, but the real proof has been actually diving with the veterans to see the positive impact on their lives.
Scott expressed his feelings this way “This country means a lot to me. I’ve been to 23 different countries. Some I’ve visited, some I’ve lived in. None of them can compare to the United States. My father (Navy) and brother (Army) served our country in the armed forces. Working with the WAVES Project, serving those who have served our country is my way to give back”.
Speaking as a member of the military from back in the post Viet Nam era, I can tell you firsthand how much the support of the troops means to a veteran, such support has not always been there. I’m proud to count Scott and Cathy among my closest friends. Scott is one of my most trusted dive buddies. I would not hesitate to dive with him anywhere, anytime. We are working on our Dive Master Certification together and I look forward to a long and fruitful diving relationship.
Contributor: Steve Moss