Rick Kaiser, retired Navy SEAL and Executive Director of the National Navy UDT SEAL Museum will be featured speaker at the Jan. 15 Leadership Under Pressure event at the Currier Museum of Art.

A career of incredible accomplishments and now, an incredible personal journey made possible through NH connections.

MANCHESTER, NH – At some point in life we learn that being a leader has nothing to do with who’s at the top of the heap and everything to do with how those at the helm make sure everyone else is supported, elevated, appreciated and compelled to do their best work. That is how you build a foundation of leadership on which to accomplish anything.

Leading with grace – and strength –  under pressure is something Rick Kaiser knows, which is why he will be guest speaker for Leadership Under Pressure, a free program to be held at the Currier Museum on Jan. 15, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Focus of the event will be on insights from Kaiser, who served for 30 years as a Navy SEAL. He is most often recognized as being a Silver Star Medal recipient for valor during  his time as Command Master Chief of SEAL Team 6 during the Battle of Mogadishu in Somalia, aka Black Hawk Down, among other harrowing assignments over his career as a SEAL.

The event is organized by Swim with a Mission, a non-profit organization that supports New Hampshire’s many veterans organizations, founded by Phil and Julie Taub. For the past two summers Kaiser and fellow Navy SEALS have participated in Swim with a Mission open-water races and demonstrations on NewFound Lake as a major fundraiser.

From left, Phil Taub, Rick Kaiser, Gov. Chris Sununu and Dean Kamen, during a Swim for a Mission event. Courtesy Photo

It has been the conduit for connecting Kaiser and the SEALS to New Hampshire in an important way that has so far raised more than $1 million for local veterans in need. But it has also turned out to be a life-changing journey for all involved, particularly Kaiser.

“Rick Kaiser told us at last summer’s event because of a bad jump he was going to have to have his foot amputated in Florida, where he lives. We said to him why don’t you take some time, do some research, and see what the latest and greatest thinking in amputations and prosthetics is,” says Phil Taub, an attorney with Nixon Peabody.

They also suggested Kaiser talk with New Hampshire inventor Dean Kamen, who developed the LUKE prosthetic arm and is founder of Manchester’s Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI/BioFab USA).  Kamen introduced Kaiser to Matt Albuquerque, founder of Next Step Bionics & Prosthetics.

“Matt is the preeminent prosthetics guy in the country, and he’s right here in New Hampshire,” Taub says.

Albuquerque did some research and recommended Kaiser as a participant in a new procedure for lower extremity amputees, known as The Ewing Amputation – named for the first successful transplant patient. Dr. Matthew Carty, director of the Lower Extremity Transplant Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, has accepted Kaiser to be one of 16 recipients of the groundbreaking procedure.

“Rick had his foot amputated in December, and we’re lucky to have him up here for a few months while he’s getting fitted for the prosthetic,” Taub says.

Which is how Kaiser is able to keynote the Jan. 15 event on leadership.

“This is a unique opportunity for us in New Hampshire to have somebody of Rick’s caliber. He was one of four Navy SEALS at the Battle of Mogadishu, and his tenure put him in the middle of anything the SEALS did, from Osama bin Laden to the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips  – it’s amazing to have him here,” says Taub.

He says recognizing the need for an organization like Swim with a Mission was directly related to seeing Navy SEALS in action, during a skills demonstration in Florida back in 2016, a way of raising money for the Navy Seals Museum.

The Taubs had been moved to action by the stories they were hearing from local veterans at town hall meetings all across the state as they followed the candidates during the previous election cycle.

When the Primary was over, the message from veterans continued to resonate with the Taubs,

“They were asking for help at every meeting, and so we did a little bit of research. New Hampshire has 130,000 veterans in the state, and for a state of 1.1 million, that’s a high percentage. And while some of the best leaders in our state are veterans, we also have a whole group of veterans who need help,” says Taub. “We were kind of embarrassed that over all the years that we’ve raised money for so many groups, we’d never done anything for veterans.”

All that changed with the founding of Swim with a Mission, which supports the work of local veterans organizations for unmet housing needs and other services.

Through a series of connections that brought together local thought leaders like Taub and Kamen, with those like Kaiser who lead by example and strive for excellence in their personal and professional endeavors, the January 15 program at the Currier should be as inspirational as it is instructional, says ARMI Executive and Board member Gray Chynoweth, one of the event organizers.

“As a graduate of LeadershipNH and Leadership Greater Manchester, I know that our community values coming together to learn about how we can work smarter in our effort to move our community forward.  We are so lucky to have Rick in New Hampshire and I was thrilled to work with Phil, Leadership NH, the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce and the Currier to give our community a chance to benefit from his experience and perspective.”

By Carol Robidoux, Ink Link

Barbara Kaiser had a premonition the night before she and her husband, Rick, were to get married for the third time in two weeks.

Rick, a retired Navy SEAL, planned to jump out of an airplane and land near their lakeside wedding site in Wisconsin — the first time his parents would see him parachute from a plane.

“If he jumps, he’d get severely injured,” she recalled, thinking back to that night in August 2016.

Rick, who helped manage the raid to capture terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011, ended up smashing his right foot into a pier at high speed, an injury so damaging that it led to eventual amputation and a fitting for a prosthetic foot in Manchester.

“If someone tells you a story about a wedding-day fail, then you tell them to beat this story,” Rick said Friday.

“It sounded like two cars colliding,” said Barbara, who was in her wedding dress and heels when he crashed. “I ripped off my shoes and ran down to him.”

By chance, a trauma nurse was in a boat in the lake right there. A former first responder herself, Barbara wanted to make sure he wasn’t more seriously hurt. Before the ambulance left with Rick, she had unfinished business.

Rick Kaiser of Vero Beach, Fla., is examined by Jason Lalla of Next Step Bionics & Prosthetics in Manchester on Friday. Kaiser had to have his foot and part of his leg amputated to prepare for a prothesis and robotic foot after he seriously injured his foot while parachuting into his wedding. DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER

Barbara had Rick sit up on the gurney in the ambulance and slipped a wedding ring on her husband’s finger. They exchanged their “I do’s” for the third time, following ceremonies in their home state of Florida and in Colorado for her family.

“Both paramedics were shaking their heads,” Rick said. “‘That doesn’t count. This guy’s on morphine.’” Rick, 57, the executive director of the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Fla., had completed 2,500 jumps, with only one other injury.

The wedding day accident “was a culmination of bad decision-making on my part,” he said. The wind shifted while he was aboard the plane, a development he didn’t detect, and he had designed a landing zone that was too small.

Rick planned to get his foot amputated in Florida in March 2018, but his wife urged him to wait.

“It was still attached. It was immobile. The bones were all shattered,” Rick said.

He wasn’t a stranger to New Hampshire.

A few years back, Manchester attorney Philip Taub wanted to form a notfor- profit group to benefit charities and met Rick by chance in Florida.

Rick brought some SEALS with him for Taub’s fundraising events the past two years at Newfound Lake. Last year, 4,000 people came to watch the SEALS do demonstrations. That’s when Taub and others wanted to help Rick and arranged for the Kaisers, who live in Vero Beach, Fla., to meet Manchester inventor Dean Kamen and later Matt Albuquerque, president of Next Step Bionics & Prosthetics in the Millyard.

“The main guy who stepped in to change my mind (about the Florida amputation) was Matt,” Rick said. “He showed me all the stuff going on, and he was the man who introduced me to Dr. (Matthew) Carty.”

Last month, Carty performed a special surgery, amputating Rick’s right foot and leg below the knee, at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital in Boston.

“With the Ewing amputation, muscles that are amputated are tied together in such a way that his muscles will work in a very similar way as when he had his foot,” Albuquerque said.

Rick will get a prosthesis this month and hopes later this year to get use of a robotic foot as part of a medical trial.

Once he gets the robotic foot, “he’ll think about lifting his toe up and the prosthetic foot will push up,” Albuquerque said. “It will act like his human foot.”

Rick and Barbara Kaiser of Vero Beach, Fla., were at Next Step Bionics & Prosthetics in Manchester on Friday with his service dog, Jesse. Rick was seriously injured while parachuting into his wedding ceremony. After amputation surgery last month in Boston, he’s awaiting a prosthesis and is hoping for a robotic foot later this year as part of a medical trial. DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER

The foot will operate similarly to Kamen’s LUKE robotic arm, which, with help from a different special surgery, allows the user to control the limb by merely thinking about moving it.

Rick, formerly SEAL Team Six command master chief, will give a free talk at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester on Jan. 15. People need to register online at eventbrite.com.

“Mainly about leadership, overcoming adversity, things like that,” he said.

Barbara, who is marketing the couple’s life story for a possible television series, said SEALS “have this mind-over-matter thing few people have.”

Rick, a member of SEAL Team Six from 1985 to 2012, acted as sniper, explosives expert, lead training chief, sniper team leader and deputy operations officer.

He was among those involved in bringing home captured Army pilot Michael Durant of Berlin after his helicopter crashed in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993. Rick received the Silver Star Medal for Valor during the Battle of Mogadishu.

The event was retold in a movie, “Black Hawk Down,” which Rick said was about 80 percent accurate, “which is fairly high for a war-type movie.”

He and his SEAL team provided security “for the group that brought Durant home,” Rick said.

His SEAL team also captured bin Laden, an operation that Rick helped to manage from the United States. Bin Laden was killed in the raid.

Rick Kaiser, a retired U.S. Navy SEAL, stands by a helicopter while serving in Mogadishu, Somalia. COURTESY

“All our missions are capture and not kill,” he said. “What we want to do is collect intelligence, so we can run the next couple of missions.”

The plan was to capture the terrorist leader, but bin Laden had a gun when U.S. forces confronted him.

“They burst in the room, he had a weapon in his hand and he was a threat,” Rick said.

SEAL members learn life’s setbacks are not roadblocks but “speed bumps,” according to Rick, who is optimistic about picking up his pace soon once he gets his new foot.

“I’ve slowed down a little bit,” he said. “I have no doubt by this time next month, I’ll be cruising around.”

By MICHAEL COUSINEAU, New Hampshire Union Leader

Swim With A Mission has donated $75,000 to Harbor Homes for the Boulder Point Veterans Housing in Plymouth. From left are Alex Ray, Boulder Point supporter; Dani Taub, daughter of SWIM founders; Phil Taub, SWIM co-founder; Mary Tamposi and Peter Kelleher, both of Harbor Homes; Benjamin Taub, son of SWIM founders; Julie Taub, SWIM co-founder; Nicole Bailey and her husband Ed Bailey, SWIM volunteers; and Cathy Bentwood, Boulder Point supporter.

Swim With A Mission Inc. met with representatives of Harbor Homes Inc. and local supporters Nov. 28 at the site of the future Boulder Point Veterans Housing project, currently under construction in Plymouth, where the founders of Swim With A Mission, Phil and Julie Taub, presented Harbor Homes with a check for $75,000 toward the Boulder Point project.

The housing project, slated for completion this summer, will provide housing for 30 low-income veteran families by off ering 25 one-bedroom and five two-bedroom units.

Once complete, the building will also provide central community space for the delivery of support services and case management for resident veterans to help them on their path to a successful life.

In addition to Swim With A Mission, Cathy Bentwood and Alex Ray — Plymouth area residents and champions of the Boulder Point Veterans Housing project — have been instrumental in soliciting support from state and local businesses and individuals, with a significant portion of support coming from state and federal funding sources. All of the aforementioned have come together through Harbor Homes to help make this project a reality.

“Support from the public has been crucial to completing this critically needed veterans housing project,” said Harbor Homes CEO Peter Kelleher.

By Harbor Homes

Navy SEAL Dale and his K9 Storm respond to the challenge from the MPD K9…come see what happens at Swim With A Mission July 13th, 2019.

Manchester NH Police K-9 Unit want to issue the Navy Seals a friendly challenge. Terrible idea? They agree, but want to do it anyway. Why? Because they support the veterans. Is it pushups?

BRISTOL — “We live in the land of the free and the home of the brave, because of the brave,” said Phil Taub who, with his wife, Julie, founded Swim With A Mission last year to raise money for causes that help veterans.

The event on Saturday, which featured at least a half-dozen Navy SEALS arriving in Blackhawk helicopters and Humvees to demonstrate their skills while helping veterans, drew more than 2,000 people to Wellington State Park on the shores of Newfound Lake in Alexandria.

The Taubs said they created the event as a fundraiser after they became aware of the poor treatment that many veterans were receiving. “They needed help,” Phil Taub said.

Leaning on their passions for swimming and lake living, the Taubs scheduled an early morning swimming competition and added veterans to the mix and, from that, Swim With A Mission was born.

The first Swim With A Mission last year raised $371,000 through various channels, giving the Taubs the impetus to do it again.

Hundreds of swimmers — spotted by volunteers in kayaks — participated in 1k, 5k, and 10k individual races, as well as a 10k relay on Saturday.

Much of the day involved displays put on by the elite fighting unit known as the Navy SEALS.

Two VIP sessions were well-attended, and many of the spectators listened for 45 minutes as SEALS explained who they were and described some of their experiences.

Jason Kuhn, who spent eight years as a SEAL, said that many of the things he learned in that unit are applicable to civilian life, including “selflessness” and “self-awareness.” He also said that training was the key to making the SEALS one of the most feared military groups in the world. They were given so much to fear — and conquer — during that training, Kuhn explained, that it allowed them to maintain their composure in battle.

The SEALS in attendance demonstrated their expertise by staging mock battles, both amphibious and land-based.

Kuhn’s story resonated with Marisa Moorhouse, Miss America New Hampshire and a student at Southern New Hampshire University, who hopes to be a military pilot.

“I feel honored to be here,” she said. “This is a great way to raise money to help veterans.”

Many veterans appreciated the day and shared it with their families. Retired Col. Hunt Kerrigan and his wife, Lt. Col. Stephanie Kerrigan, of Durham, brought their two sons to the event.

“I am very impressed,” Kerrigan said, praising the Taubs for creating it. “This shows great love and support.”

Son Jonathan, 8, showed he understood what the event was about when he said, “We are raising money for people who really need it.”

Taylor Hough, 15, of Laconia, participated in the swim both this year and last, and placed second overall in the 2018 5k.

“I really enjoy this event,” said the Northfield Mount Hermon School student who also hopes to join the military later in life, following in the footsteps of her grandfather. “This is a good thing,” she said.

More than 250 volunteers and vendors showed up early and began setting up their booths and locations for the day among the pine forest.

There was food by the Common Man, Sub Zero Nitrogen Ice Cream, face-painting and a variety of military-oriented information kiosks.

When everything was ready, the public arrived by foot, boat, bicycle and auto. Many were bused from satellite locations that eventually swelled the numbers in the park and, for a few hours, came close to doubling nearby Bristol’s 3,000 permanent population.

Kyle Bostock of Manchester, who attended last year’s event, noticed the difference. “The scale is so much bigger this year,” he said.

So did co-founder Phil Taub, who noted after a series of emotional presentations, “Last year we raised $371,000 for deserving veteran’s organizations; this year we hope to more than double that.”

By Ron Cole
This article was originally published in the The Laconia Daily Sun.

BRISTOL – The U.S. Navy’s primary special operations force demonstrated Saturday what they do best, and a large crowd of onlookers lived to tell about it.

Two Navy SEALs parachuted from a helicopter into Newfound Lake, while a four-man team and a Navy SEAL dog skipped the parachutes and instead jumped out of a hovering chopper and plunged into the water. They were picked up by a waiting inflatable boat and roared back to the beach.

The event was part of Swim with a Mission, an open-water swim festival founded to both honor and support veterans.

“The feedback that we have gotten and the amount of people we have helped has been amazing,” said Julie Taub, who co-founded the event with her husband, Bedford attorney Phil Taub.

“The mental toughness, the teamwork and other things that they have taught us can be applied to all parts of your life,” Julie said of being able to listen and learn from some of the nation’s most elite warriors.

Retired Master Chief Rick Kaiser said the modern-day SEALs can trace their roots to World War II. In their 75-year history, there have been just 16,000 Navy SEALs. Currently, about 100 to 125 men annually earn the coveted trident. The training is so rigorous that the dropout rate remains at 70 percent.

During a question-and-answer session with the crowd, Kaiser, a winter warfare specialist, recounted that during his training he was dropped in Greenland and skied for two weeks to get off the ice cap, ran out of food and then had to perform a mission before being extracted.

“The instructors try to get you to quit in training because they don’t want you to quit in combat,” he said.

Fellow retired Master Chief Steve “Mato” Matulewicz is now a part-time resident of New Hampshire and works for Sig Sauer. He said the training taught him four things: never quit, lead, follow or get out of the way.

“The training changed my life. Regardless of the task, it continues until done,” he said.

Kaiser serves as executive director of the SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Fla., where the first Amphibious Scouts and Raiders School was established in 1942.

“It’s our turn to be there for them,” Gov. Chris Sununu told the thousands of people who lined the beach at Wellington State Park to watch both the swimmers and later, the SEALS.

Josh Wright of Manchester, who swam the 5K course in 1 hour and 29 minutes, said Newfound Lake is ideal.

“It’s calm, the temperature was perfect and to hear people cheering for you? It’s awesome,” he said.

During the swim, Wright said, when his body was exhausted and his spirts flagging, his thoughts turned to the SEALs.

“These guys do these swims wearing heavy equipment in the ocean at night,” he said. “It’s every kid’s dream. They do some really cool stuff.”

Taylor Hough, 15, of Laconia, and a student at Northfield Mount Hermon, turned in the winning time in the individual 5K swim of 1 hour and 26 seconds.

“I know I got beat by a girl, but at least she is half my age,” Wright said.

Organizers said they had more swimmers participate this year and that they were hoping that the crowd size had doubled from the 2,000 tallied in 2017. Last year, Swim with a Mission raised more than $370,000.

“People have been really excited about it, and the SEALs have made themselves very accessible. They don’t like to talk about themselves but rather the SEALs in general,” Julie Taub said.

“They are the nicest, most gentle, kindest and amazing people that we have ever met, and now they are our friends,” she said.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Navy SEAL Museum, Veterans Count, Children of Fallen Patriots, the Dan Healy Foundation and other Lakes Region veterans organizations.

By Bea Lewis, Union Leader Correspondent
This article was originally published in the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Watch the video on 

Navy SEALs showed off their best moves Saturday to raise money for New Hampshire veterans.

The annual Swim with a Mission event includes air, land, and water demonstrations of the skills needed to find and capture enemies. But SEALs say the lessons they learn go far beyond physical prowess.

“They teach us about mental toughness, about team first,” says organizer Julie Taub. “The things they have taught us…can be applied to all of the parts of our lives, and it has been truly amazing.”

Swim with a Mission started in the Granite State. Organizers say events during the 2016 election drove home the need to help veterans. It just two years, the program has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to benefit local organizations.

“The folks from New Hampshire are unbelievably patriotic,” says Retired Master Chief Rick Kaiser. “They’re very community-oriented, and they really support us.”

You can learn more about the organization and future events at swimwithamission.org.

By Siobhan Lopez, Reporter
Watch the video on WMUR News 9

ALEXANDRIA — The success of Swim With A Mission’s debut in 2017 has ensured the return this year of the Navy SEALs, along with swimmers, kayakers, and paddleboarders who come together to celebrate and honor all veterans.

This year’s Swim With A Mission is scheduled for Saturday, July 14, at Wellington State. The day will feature open water swimming races across the cleanest lake in New England, followed by a festival of food, music, children’s activities and live demonstrations by the Navy SEALs and their K-9 unit.

Last year’s event raised more than $370,000, and drew thousands of spectators as the group of the elite Navy SEALs jumped from a helicopter into the lake and then demonstrate how to rescue a hostage. Retired Master Chief and famous Navy SEAL Rick Kaiser took questions from the crowd, and the SEAL K-9 unit stole the show and the hearts of everyone as they demonstrated why they are now vital members of the SEAL teams in combat.

Swimmers who want to participate this year can sign up for the individual 1K, 5K or 10K distances, or put a team of up to five swimmers together to race in a relay format over a 10K course. Details and registration information is posted at www.swimwithamisison.org.

The event also has a need for volunteers to kayak, paddleboard and help on the beach.

At 11 a.m., after the swim races, the public will have an opportunity to meet the Navy SEALs and enjoy the many activities offered. There will be a Kids Zone, food and drink provided by the Common Man, Sam Adams, Jack Daniels, Coca-Cola, and Lakes Region vendors, and other entertainment. The New Hampshire National Guard will be displaying a Blackhawk helicopter and Humvees. Several veteran service organizations will be on hand to talk about their respective missions. The SEALs will again talk with the crowd, followed by a SEALs capabilities demonstration, jumping from helicopters and doing a land demonstration. Finally, the K-9 unit will demonstrate its capabilities.

Phil Taub, who with his wife Julie founded Swim With A Mission, said, “There are over 110,000 veterans in New Hampshire, and we were really surprised at how many need help. So we started this event as a way to honor our veterans and raise money to help the many service organizations that serve our veterans.”

“This is a great concept, not only to showcase the specialized training necessary to become part of our special operations forces, but also to raise money to help those who have made incredible sacrifices for our country,” said Rick Kaiser, executive director of the Navy SEAL Museum. “I think the participants who turn out to this event will be amazed at the skills on display by your Navy SEALs.”

Proceeds from the event will support the Navy SEAL Museum, Veterans Count, Children of the Fallen Patriots, the Dan Healy Foundation and the Harbor Homes Plymouth Project.

This article was originally published in The Laconia Daily Sun.

BRISTOL — Organizers are seeking volunteers and participants for a fundraising event on Newfound Lake to benefit veterans.

The second Swim With A Mission, which features open-water races and demonstrations by Navy SEALs, is scheduled for Saturday, July 14, on Newfound Lake at Wellington State Park. “There are over 110,000 Veterans in New Hampshire and we were really surprised at how many need help,” said Phil Taub, who founded SWAM with his wife, Julie. “So we started this event as a way to honor our veterans and raise money to help the many service organizations that serve our veterans.”

The inaugural SWAM raised more than $370,000 last July, when about 1,000 spectators and hundreds of swimmers took part.

Swimmers can register for the 1K, 5K and 10K distances as individuals or teams of up to five for a 10K relay.

After the races, Navy SEALs will demonstrate jumping from a helicopter and other maneuvers.

Taub, a triathlete and attorney with Nixon Peabody LLP, said he got the idea for the fundraiser while attending a demonstration at the Navy SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Fla., and thought Newfound Lake would serve as a great host location.

Rick Kaiser, executive director of the Navy SEAL Museum and a retired master chief with the elite unit, said the SEALs are excited to be back again this summer for the 2018 SWAM.

“This is a great concept, not only to showcase the specialized training necessary to become part of our special operations forces, but also to raise money to help those who have made incredible sacrifices for our country,” Kaiser said in a release. “I think the participants who turn out to this event will be amazed at the skills on display by your Navy SEALs.”

The SEAL Museum is one of the beneficiaries of the fundraiser. Proceeds will also go to Veterans Count, Children of the Fallen Patriots, the Dan Healy Foundation and the Harbor Homes Plymouth Project.

Swimmers wishing to participate need to raise at least $500 each, $1,500 per relay team of three, $2,000 for a team of four and a minimum of $2,500 for a team of five.

SWAM is also seeking volunteers to kayak, paddle board and help on the beach.

People interested in swimming or volunteering can find details at http://swimwithamission.org/.

By Doug Alden
This article was originally published in the New Hampshire Union Leader.