[Congressional Record Volume 155, Number 70 (Thursday, May 7, 2009)]
[Page H5375]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                          HONORING DEWEY SMITH

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the 
gentleman from Washington (Mr. Baird) is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Mr. BAIRD. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to Dewey Smith, a 
young man who tragically lost his life on Tuesday, May 5, this past 
Tuesday, in the course of his duties at the Aquarius Undersea Research 
Station. He will be greatly missed by his friends, his family, and his 
  Dewey's life was tied to the sea from his childhood growing up on the 
Gulf Coast in Panama City, Florida. As a young man, he served his 
country as a United States Navy hospital corpsman. For 5 years, he 
cared for the health and well-being of his fellow sailors. After 
leaving the Navy and attending college, he found himself at home back 
in the water, training at Florida State University's underwater crime 
scene investigation program focusing on scientific and surface supply 
diving. Eventually, his path led him to NOAA's Undersea Research 
Center, Aquarius.
  Aquarius combined the elements of Dewey's passion for science and the 
sea. Located 3\1/2\ miles off the coast of Key Largo, Florida, the 
underwater laboratory is dedicated to scientific research and training 
missions. It is the only permanent underwater laboratory in the world, 
and its facilities are used in partnership with NASA, the Navy, and 
countless scientists around the world to train astronauts, divers, and 
develop new technology. Since it began operation in 1993 at its current 
location, Aquarius and its team have safely conducted more than 90 
missions with no significant prior accidents.
  The contribution to ocean science by Dewey Smith and his fellow 
aquanauts is immeasurable. The Aquarius Reef Base supports a long-term 
coral reef monitoring platform, an ocean observation platform, and 
surface-based research.
  Since its inception, the team at Aquarius has employed a coral reef 
and fish monitoring assessment program to track the devastating impacts 
of climate change on marine ecosystems.
  Aquanauts such as Dewey Smith have also successfully reached out to 
the world beyond the scientific community, successfully educating 
school children, environmental activists, and government agencies on 
the changes occurring in the world's oceans. Employing state-of-the-art 
communication technology, the aquanauts correspond with students and 
the public while underwater on long-term missions. Dewey's response to 
school children's questions reveal not only his expertise and 
eloquence, but his sincere desire to share that knowledge gained at 
Aquarius in the hopes of saving the marine ecosystem he worked with.
  The work done at Aquarius by brave aquanauts such as Dewey Smith 
improves the lives of many Americans, from astronauts, whose health and 
safety are ensured through technology developed underwater, to 
fishermen, whose livelihoods depend on understanding the effects of 
climate change on the world's marine ecosystems.
  Mr. Speaker, this Monday, quite rightfully, our Nation will gaze in 
wonder and admiration at the astronauts who will lift off yet again in 
the space shuttle. As courageous and important as the work those 
astronauts do, I believe that the work done by the aquanauts at 
Aquarius is no less courageous and no less essential to our 
understanding of our world and the well-being of civilization.
  Dewey Smith, along with the other Aquarius aquanauts, risked and 
committed his life daily not only for his love of the sea but for the 
cause of research, education, and conservation, which benefits us all.
  In a few short minutes on Tuesday afternoon, a dedicated aquanaut was 
suddenly lost in the course of an otherwise standard mission. Let us 
not risk losing the work, however, that he was so passionate about. I 
stand today not only to mourn the death of a beloved friend, son, 
brother, and colleague, but to urge that this mission continue.
  Looking forward, I hope that Dewey's life will continue to inspire 
the important work of preserving the world's oceans. I offer my sincere 
condolence to Dewey Smith's family, to the entire Aquarius team, and 
ask that this House honor him as a man who died serving his country in 
pursuit of scientific progress.
  Mr. Speaker, I ask the House observe a moment of silence in honor of 
this courageous government employee and researcher.