Reflections on Operation: Seabird

Reflections on Operation: Seabird
Chris Wharton

Chris Wharton also known as “The Brit,” is British by birth and Welsh by choice. An Iraq conflict veteran, firefighter, and hazardous materials technician, Chris also responded to the earthquake/tsunami in Japan in 2011. Following his time in Japan, Chris determined that the best way to save lives was educate people before a disaster strikes, rather than try to rescue them afterwards. A life-long adventurer and outdoorsman, when Chris is not helping train TR volunteers in operational excellence, he can be found dangling under the love of his life: his para-glider.

Upon reflection, it’s ironic.

I am one of the lucky few who work full time for Team Rubicon. I am a training associate and I help create training material for our volunteers. Sometimes, I get to write fun stuff, like chainsaw guides and rope safety guides. Sometimes, the work seems a little more mundane.The guide on how to tarp a roof seemed especially mundane.

Then we were in Tanauan. On a roof, whilst below me, my teammates worked at fever pitch pace, alongside doctors, they sewed together horrendous wounds and delivered new born life into a world of filth.

Volunteers Chris Wharton and Breaux Burns tarp the roof of a field hospital in Tanauan. Volunteers Chris Wharton and Breaux Burns tarp the roof of a field hospital in Tanauan during Operation: Seabird.

In the midst of the suffering, they patched up bodies and souls and gave hope to all who watched them. My battle buddy and I had to tarp the roof above them. We knew they needed a respite from the rain, needed a more sterile workplace. We worked hard and long to try to give them one.

"We knew they needed a respite from the rain, needed a more sterile workplace. We worked hard and long to try to give them one." “We knew they needed a respite from the rain, needed a more sterile workplace. We worked hard and long to try to give them one.”

And somewhere in that two-day period, I realized that everything we train for has a real-world application, 15 feet below us was a world that was as real as it gets.

I am proud to serve with these heroes. When we die we will all ask ourselves, “Am I the only person I ever helped?” These men and women can answer with a resounding “no.” I know because I have seen them in action.

I said it’s ironic. I cannot wait to write the “How to Tarp a Roof” guide.

Awaiting transportation after a long day of gathering assessments in Tolosa, Wharton shared some laughs with local children. Awaiting transportation after a long day of gathering assessments in Tolosa, Wharton shared some laughs with local children.