It's time Fort Lauderdale recognized one of their own with a star on the Fort Lauderdale Beach Walk of Fame. Mayor Jack Seiler says the inductees have already been decided for 2012 but has forwarded his name and extensive credentials to the staff and committees who decide. Let us hope this new generation do their research and recognize the debt Fort Lauderdale owes to old timers like Big John.
When informed recently that the 2012 group had already been selected, Big John, quick-as-a-flash and trenchant as ever, asked "does one have to be alive to collect it?"
As new generations come in, the old timers who made Fort Lauderdale great - the boosters - become forgotten - but this generation should remember they are standing on their shoulders - the shoulders of giants. Big John is such a giant, having pioneered diving, stunt rigging and motion picture safety techniques that are in use to this day.
Fort Lauderdale has always been a favorite location for film-making and Big John brings just that right amount of Hollywood tinsel to reignite the interest of a new generation of movie makers.
Big John's favorite of the James Bond Movies was THUNDERBALL. He stunt doubled for 34 different people in the film. He has worked on eight JAMES BOND movies.
Of Big John, Lloyd Bridges, the star of the 1960s TV series SEA HUNT said "Big John is a real likable guy and one of the most complete divers ever. He's trained in absolutely everything. And I learned a lot about diving from him.”
Lloyd Bridges wasn't the only one. Thousands have and it's probably saved their lives many times over.
Big John McLaughlin is an inspiration for divers too, having instructed many thousands of divers over sixty years in the latest techniques and the most basic of all. Survival. On re-surfacing, Big John is a stickler. He wants everyone to take thirty foot rest stops and claims he has never been "bent" as in suffering the "bends". He helped develop saturation diving and techniques with the renown scientist Captain George F. Bond. Here is another reason why Fort Lauderdale is a major destination for people around the world who want to learn safe diving.
In 2007, the National Week of the Ocean made McLaughlin their first Lifetime Achievement Award honoree, in recognition for his marine-related accomplishment in engineering, ocean preservation, salvage and towing, underwater cinematography, diving instruction and technical advice to the film and television industries. In a recent interview with the blog http://myfortlauderdale.blogspot.com he noted he was responsible for the installation of the only water craft launch platform on Fort Lauderdale beach.
Located on the beach, in front the Bahia Mar and International Swimming Hall of Fame, it's the one place you can be sure of catching the spectacle of kite-surfing, a unique extreme sport, which makes Fort Lauderdale one of the most exciting tourist destinations in the US. You may not be able to kite-surf yourself, but the spectacle alone stirs the blood. Study how the the kite-surfers crest a wave and jump high in the air and you will feel part of the action. And it's not all upper-body strength, there is a harness that keeps you secure. Come on down if you want to learn.