In 2019, Team C.L.A.W launched Operation Blue Freedom. A movement to express the powerful spirit and ability of people with disabilities. To evolve the perception of society towards who they are and what they are capable of. To secure their right to dignity. To exercise their ability to contribute value and inspire freedom. For all.
‘Operation Blue Freedom’ is the extraordinary true story of a band of brothers – former Special Forces soldiers. It is their quest for freedom and empowerment of people with disabilities – an expedition to create the Triple Elemental World Records – Land, Sea & Air – by people with disabilities. It is a pioneering journey of brotherhood to achieving the, so far, impossible.
‘Operation Blue Freedom’ is a statement of hope, inspiration, resilience and freedom. Not only for people with disabilities but for the able bodied alike. For a free-spirited world – united despite its divisions of caste, creed, race, religion, nationality or ability. Where being different is common.
‘Freedom is a collective experience. Either we all have it or none us do.’
Seeds of the Idea
Major Vivek Jacob served 14 years as a Special Forces Operator with two of the elitist SF units in Indian military history. Major Jacob’s parachute malfunctioned in mid-fall during a Combat Skydive. He escaped alive but suffered a spinal cord injury. During his recovery in a military hospital, he met an Airforce officer, Flt Lt Bhaduria, who was permanently paralysed in a freak accident and had spent the previous four years in hospital on a wheelchair. They formed a bond of friendship over their days together in hospital. A friendship which found its purpose one day, when Bhaduria asked Jacob if he could Scuba Dive despite being waist down paralysed. The promise made in reply that day, set Jacob on a completely different life path. It became a powerful guiding light of reason, of purpose and sowed the seeds of what was to unfold.
Team CLAW is born (Conquer Land Air Water)
Major Jacob voluntarily retired from the Army, left his Special Forces family and began a journey of sharing and exploration. Slowly, as he journeyed from day to day, members from the SF Teams he had commanded and others, like the MARCOS (Navy Special Forces) he had met along his journey, joined him.
They formed up under Team C.L.A.W. Each team member had been a crack soldier in the Army / Navy SF and was highly trained with multiple specialisations in Mountaineering, Skydiving, Scuba diving, Un-armed combat, Survival tech and Emergency Med Response. Each Team member had undergone some of the toughest selection, training and operational environments, over decades, across the globe.
‘Special Forces’ is a mindset. Every human being has it. It’s a razor sharp ‘Survive, Stabilize and Thrive’ mind set. It exists in and operates from a mind space where faith, self-belief, skill, brotherhood and freedom are the driving factors of thought and action. It is developed over a period of enduring life’s extreme challenges repeatedly, by chance or by choice, and realising that you can conquer. Anything. People who live on the cutting edges of humanity, share this mind set. In this particular case – people with disabilities and the Special Forces.
The Team united their energy and skills to teach their life skills to people with disabilities. Their focus being to design and implement sustainable large-scale employment solutions for the disabled and the underprivileged in the Environment Protection & Conservation space.
Journey so Far
For more than a year), the Op Blue Freedom Team has travelled across the length of India and trained more than a 100 people, paralysed by spinal cord injuries, in Scuba diving. The first leg of the journey culminated with the Team taking a select group of their students for their first dives in the open sea. People on wheelchairs, who were bound by the chains of gravity on land, were now free – in water.
The Team started out with scratch. There was no money. What little they could save up from their gratuity and their meagre pensions coming in, they pooled. At each step, they found themselves facing impossible odds matched only by their impossible dream. At each step they threw in whatever little they had and moved into the unknown. The dream always won. Magic always happened.
Operation Blue Freedom is a journey to experiencing our own deepest self. A Transition from destruction to creation. A liberating true story of an unlikely bond formed between former Special Forces soldiers and the Specially abled.