Mark Stephens is a founding member of TRUE. He served with United States Army Special Forces (Green Berets) in Okinawa, Japan and Fort Bragg, NC. Later Mark joined and spent 3/4 of his time in the military with the Nation’s Counter Terrorism Special Mission Unit, as a Special Operations Operator in numerous positions. Mark Stephens’ combat deployments include 3 deployments to Iraq for OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM, 3 deployments to Afghanistan for OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM (to include beginning first boots on the ground), to Somalia as part of TASK FORCE RANGER, other significant real world classified operational deployments include Honduras (OPERATION GOLDEN PHEASANT), in Panama, counter-narcotics operations with the USCG (OPERATION HAT TRICK II), in the Balkans / Bosnia and Columbia as well as numerous other contingency operations around the world.
Mark Stephens’ awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, 5 Bronze Stars for Valor and/or Combat, 4 Purple Hearts, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, 4 Joint Service Commendation Medals, the Army Commendation Medal, 4 Army Achievement Medals, the NATO Medal, the United States Coast Guard Commandant’s Letter of Commendation with “O” device, the United States Coast Guard Special Operations Ribbon, 2 Armed Forces Expeditionary medals, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal with Arrowhead, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Armed Forces Service Ribbon, the Valorous Unit Award, the Army Superior Unit Award, the Special Forces Tab, Combat Infantryman’s Badge 2nd Award, the Military Freefall Jumpmaster Badge, the Master Parachutist Badge, the Combat Diver’s Badge, the Guatemalan Parachutist Badge and the Polish Parachutist Badge.
Mark is the Senior Director of the Special Operations and Intelligence Advisory Group at Cubic.
Chief Operations Officer
Dr. David Palandro is a founding member of TRUE. He received his M.S. (2000) and Ph.D. (2006) in Marine Science from the University of South Florida and his B.S. in Biology and History from the State University of New York – College at Brockport (1993). While a PhD student he was awarded a NASA Earth System Science Fellowship and a USGS Scholarship. He has performed research on coral reef environments in a number of geographic locations, ranging from Florida and the Caribbean to Australia, which includes extensive field operations experience. He has been an American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS) qualified science diver since 1998 and is a full voting member. He is a US Coast Guard licensed boat Captain and qualified Department of Interior Motorboat Operator. He has been SCUBA certified since 1991 and is a NAUI Technical Diver and a NAUI Instructor, which includes being a CPR/First Aid/O2 instructor. Dr. Palandro’s education and outreach experience ranges from working as a high school science teacher to teaching at the undergraduate and graduate college levels and producing education training materials.
Dr. Palandro is currently working for ExxonMobil as an Research Specialist
and is a former Research Scientist for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) in St. Petersburg, Florida. His duties included coral reef ecology and benthic habitat mapping, primarily from remote sensing data. He was the Florida Scientific Support Coordinator for Oil Spill Response. He also serves on TRUE Diving Control Board.
Mark Flory CFO
Mark Flory was a founding member of T.R.U.E. Dive Team. He is a native Floridian and an avid outdoorsman. He has been Scuba Diving since 1992. His Diving Certifications include NAUI Dive Instructor, NAUI Technical Diver, NAUI CPR/First AID/ O2 Instructor, NSS/CDS Cavern Diver, IANTD CCR Cave Diver, IANTD rEvo CCR Dive Supervisor, and IANTD rEvo Trimix Diver. He has been an American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS) qualified science diver since 2006. He is a US Coast Guard licensed boat Captain and is also a Private Pilot. He is a certified Cadillac Master Craftsman and has been a local small business owner since 1997. He has been married 27 years to Rebecca and has three children, and one grandchild
Diving Control Board
The TRUE Diving Control Board includes:
David Palandro PhD, Scott Mclean, Bill Dent, Don Hickey, Marc
Blouin, Casey Coy
Marc Blouin is the Dive Safety Program Manager for the U.S. Geological Survey
(USGS) and is a member of the USGS dive-safety board, where he serves as the
bureau dive-safety officer. Marc has served on the Board of Directors for the
American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS), in addition to serving on dive
safety boards for the National Biological Service and the Florida Airboat Search
and Rescue Team. Since 1983, he has been a Fishery Research Biologist for the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Biological Service and the USGS. Marc
currently works with diving scientists around the country in developing safety
protocols and assists researchers with experimental design. He trains with
underwater scientists, helping them prepare for their studies in hydrology,
animal migration, coral disease and ecology and climate change.
Marc is a dive instructor, Divers Alert Network (DAN) Instructor and
Instructor Trainer for the Department of the Interior Motorboat Operator
Certification Course (MOCC).
My ties to the Tampa Bay area started early when I became a student of the
University of South Florida in 1969, Four years later I returned to my home
state of New Jersey to take a position as a Civil Engineer, After working as a
Civil Engineer my family decided to return to Florida to raise our family. In
1983 I returned to my Alma Mata to oversee the Scientific Diving Program.
My diving started early in 1963 at the age of 12 my father, a Navy diver
during WWII, made the mistake of asking me if I wanted to learn how to dive. I
spent my summers at the Jersey shore in the Barnegat Light area where my
grandparents had a home and a boat. I first became a YMCA Scuba instructor in
1970 to teach the newly created Union County Scuba Club. I continued diving
through my college time and finally made it a profession in 1982 when I took a
position managing World of Water, Inc. in Tampa. At the same time I took over
the non-credit scuba program at the USF. In 1988 I took a position at USF
teaching the credit scuba program. In 1990 I took a position as the Diving
Safety Officer overseeing the underwater research program for the Office of
Research, Division of Research Integrity and Compliance. Eventually I became the
Assistant Director for Safety for the Division.
I currently oversee the following; Scientific Diving, Boating Safety, Animal
Safety – animals in research, BioSafety, Radiation Safety, Occupational medicine
for research, Laser safety.
Diving – a few Notable Accomplishments, Dive the Andrea Doria a few times,
Dove on the NOAA project The Monitor – the iron clad civil war ship, Dove Palmer
Station – the Antarctic, Developed the Scientific Diving protocol for diving in
or around an oil spill.
Diving Certifications include, NAUI Course Director, PADI Master Instructor,
IANTD Instructor, Divers Alert Network (DAN) Instructor trainer, Trimix diver,
Cave Diver, Rebreather Diver.
Administrative positions; Currently the Assistant Director for Safety,
Division of Research Integrity and Compliance, Office of Research, University of
South Florida, Two term President of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences
(AAUS), Teen Researchers in Underwater Exploration (TRUE) – member of their
Diving Control Board, SCUBANauts – member of their Diving Control Board.