Tallahassee SCUBA instructor Gabrielle Logo

Life Worth Leading is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and SCUBA is part of our nonprofit.

We are honored to present Buck's scholarship thanks to the generosity of an anomymous donor. The donor works for Dell who is also providing a matching scholarship for a veteran in 2020! Thank you! If you know of a worthy veteran who would like to become SCUBA certified, please complete the scholarship application.

Biography of Ensign Jerry "Buck" O'Real Pope II Ensign Jerry "Buck" O'Real Pope II was born 2 October 1967. A native of Tallahassee, Florida, he graduated from Leon High School in 1985. After a year of junior college, his competitive spirit, athletic ability, and undying devotion for his country led him to the United States Navy. The Navy assigned him as a fire controlman when he enlisted in 1987. However, intrigued with the history of the Navy SEALs, he actively sought assignment to Basic Underwater Demolition School/SEAL (BUD/S) Training. Later that year, Petty Officer Pope received his wish with orders to Coronado, California to attend BUD/S. Unfortunately, only weeks before graduation he suffered from a near fatal training injury. Following recovery and rehabilitation, Petty Officer Pope returned to BUD/S to complete training and graduate with Class 165. After BUD/S he was assigned to an east coast SEAL Team for duty but not long after his arrival he felt his interest lay in medicine and cross-rated to hospital corpsman. As a Navy SEAL qualified hospital corpsman, he deployed multiple times throughout the U.S. Southern command before being transferred to Fort Bragg, North Carolina to serve as an instructor at the renowned Joint Special Operations Medical Training Center. Despite an intense teaching schedule, Petty Officer Pope attended college during his off-hours and within a few years earned a Bachelor of Health Science degree with honors from Campbell University and acceptance to the Department of Defense Intra-Service Physician Assistant (PA) Program. There Officer Candidate Pope continued to maintain his high academic standards graduating February 2001 in the upper percentile of his class with a degree from the University of Nebraska and a commission as a medical service corps officer. Following PA graduation, Ensign Pope received orders to the Naval Medical Clinic in Quantico, Virginia where he served until August 2002 when he accepted a volunteer assignment to a specified Individual Augmentee program supporting special operations. Ensign Pope was killed in a motor vehicle crash while temporarily assigned to the American Embassy Yemen for ongoing counterterrorism operations on 16 October 2002. He was interned at Arlington National Cemetery on 21 November 2002.

Buck's Scholarship 2019 Recipient Jaime Hurtado
Jaime Hurtado Marine in Uniform

Congratulations to Jaime Hurtado for being the 1st recipient of Buck's Scholarship! Jaime A. Hurtado was born 23 October 1982. A native of Colombia, South America, he came to the United States at the age of 12. He completed his studies in New York and graduated from the High School of Arts and Business in Queens, NY in 2001. After graduating, he joined the Marine Corps where he completed 4 years of honorable service.

During his time in the Marines, Jaime served as an infantry team leader, conducting missions in various parts of the world including Kosovo, U.A.E, Kenya, Djibouti, Macedonia, Kuwait, and Iraq. After completing his service, Jaime found himself unable to adjust back to a normal life, battling with PTSD, homelessness, and unemployment in New York. Jaime decided to move to Tallahassee, Florida, where he met his wife in 2008.

In 2019 Jaime was given the opportunity to learn SCUBA diving, something that has helped him tremendously with his PTSD and chronic back pain. He is very thankful that he was chosen as a recipient of Buck's Scholarship and cannot wait to see what other opportunities this program may bring.

Jaime Hurtado 2019 Buck's Scholarship Recipient SCUBA Diving

Jaime now lives in Crawfordville, Florida, with his wife and stepson. His stepdaughter Camila lives in Tallahassee where she attends TCC and works at Southern Fidelity Insurance. Jaime currently works as assistant service director for a property management company, his wife Andrea works as the administrative assistant for the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco. His stepson Anthony attends Florida State University School where he is a wrestler and Football player. SCUBA diving for Jaime has been a dream come true as well as therapy for the way he struggles with PTSD, he would love to share his story with other veterans and help them overcome those struggles as well. 

Jaime Hurtado family

Jaime's military decorations include: Presidential Unit Citation, Combat action ribbon, Global War on Terrorism service medal, Kosovo Campaign medal, Sea service deployment ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary medal, NATO Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary medal, National Defense Service medal, Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, Iraq Campaign Medal, expert rifle and pistol shooting badge.

In December 2020, Jaime was accepted into the leadership program at Life Worth Leading. He has taken many advanced courses including Nitrox, advanced, rescue, CPR, oxygen administration, first aid, neurological assessment, and more. Congratulations to Jaime Hurtado for earning his divemaster certification in December 2021!

Life Worth Leading also bought a bicycle for Jaime to help him compete in triathlons! He successfully completed his first triathlon 6 June 2021 in Pensacola, Florida. Way to go, Jaime!

SCUBA Diving is healing and powerful!

Congratulations to Jaime Hurtado, a decorated U.S. Marine, for being the 1st recipient of Buck's Scholarship!

"Buck," as his friends and teammates knew him, was not only the consummate professional within the special operations and medical communities but someone who possessed an uncanny ability to smile during times that would frustrate even the most patient of individuals. Often he would discuss his past misfortunes with a laugh and calming demeanor that would make others wonder how he was able to maintain his personal stamina and sense of humor during some of the most difficult of times. A selfless man, he often volunteered for the worst assignments and gave more than expected. He was a close friend to many, and everyone who knew him misses him. Ensign Pope's decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Navy Achievement Medal, the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, the Navy Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, expert Navy Rifleman and Pistol Medals, the Special Warfare (SEAL) breast insignia, and the Naval Parachutist breast insignia. Buck is survived by his wife Andrea his children Drew, Leah, Jack, and his mother and stepfather Violet and Otto M. Stroud, his brother Jeremy Shea Pope who all reside in Virginia Beach, Virginia, his father and stepmother Jerry O. and Susan Pope of Tallahassee, Florida, as well as eight step brothers, two in Virginia Beach and six in Tallahassee.