Salute to John Chomed – the King of Rumung (September 7, 1965 – March 14, 2012)
Yesterday, March 23, 2012, one of the best dive guides in Micronesia took his last boat ride. Accompanied by his daughter, brother, family members as well as members of the Manta Ray Bay staff, Chomed was moved from the Yap State Hospital to his home island of Rumung. He always drove and dived from the boat Seagull Express so it was only fitting that Seagull was used to transport him home. It was a very sad and poignant moment for all of us. Burial will be at 3 PM, Sunday the 25th.
Chomed and I have been together, in some capacity for nearly 30 years. We both began our working careers in Yap with the WA’AB Transportation Company and when my family and I started the Manta Ray Bay Hotel & Yap Divers, Chomed came with us. He never came to work without a smile on his face and he always took care of his boat and his guests. A very quiet man, but a very competent man in the water, he could find ANYTHING guests asked him to find. There are many, many Chomed stories but my favorite one goes like this.
Clay Wiseman, a noted marine biologist, photographer and writer was in Yap specifically to shoot certain macro critters that were known to inhabit a dive site known as Slow and Easy. When Clay came to my office to tell me what he wanted to see, I was busy doing something else and not really paying attention to him. I told him to just tell the dive guide what he wanted and they would happily point things out for him. About 2 hours later Clay is back in my office and furious. By then I was finished with whatever it was that I was doing so I took the time to ask Clay what was wrong. Basically the dive guide didn’t find any of the stuff that Clay had asked for so I asked Clay what it was he was telling the dive guide. Clay went into this long scientific description, with names, of what he was looking for and after about 30 seconds I had to tell him to stop as I had zero idea what he was talking about.
I suggested we get the Micronesian Reef Fishes book and have him point out to the guide exactly what he was looking for and after this was done, off they went. About 4 hours later, I met Clay again and timidly asked how his dive went. His story goes like this:
“We were getting ready and I was having trouble with some of my gear and camera equipment so after a bit, the dive guide rolled into the water and told me he would meet me on the bottom. When I rolled in and looked around, the guide was nowhere to be found and I thought – oh no, here we go again so I drifted with the current. Suddenly I came upon the guide floating vertically in the water and motioning with his nose at something in the reef. I looked and looked but could see nothing so the guide moved a bit closer and again pointed with his nose, as islanders the world over do. Still not seeing what he was pointing at, the guide moved closer and put his finger on one of the animals I had come to photograph. After shooting several shots I moved away and looked for the dive guide, who again was nowhere to be seen. I thought, here we go again so I simply drifted with the current and alas found the guide in the same position and pointing with his nose. To make a long story short, I had shown the guide images of 10 critters that I wanted to find and not only did he find all 10 of them for me in the space of several hundred yards of reef BUT he found them in the ORDER that I had shown them to him in the fish book!”
The guide was our own John Chomed.
There are certainly many more stories of examples of Chomed’s exploits under the water but I think it best that we give you, our guests and staff members, the chance to comment on this blog with your stories, or thoughts on the guy we all knew as Chomed – the King of Rumung. He hated that nickname, or at least acted like he did, but it stuck and everyone connected with the resort knew him simply as “the King”. He will be terribly missed and we all hope and pray that he is in a better place with great visibility, blue water and lots of fish. His body is currently at his home in Rumung surrounded by family, friends and co-workers. His daughter searched the island with other members of her family to find clothes to bury her father in and after visiting every store on the island, found nothing she felt suitable. Irritably her family asked her what she had in mind and she replied “those clothes are all nice but that’s not how I remember my Dad. He was always in his Yap Diver’s uniform so I think that’s what he should wear.
” So today, our Chomed is dressed in a pair of quick dry shorts, a new blue staff tee shirt with a blue “do rag” on his head and holding a Yap Diver’s cap. He is wearing a new name tag along with our 25th Anniversary pin and looks like he is ready to report to work. We would all give anything if that were the case. Good bye my friend and may God bless your soul. We miss you and every dive we do from here on out will include thoughts and memories of you!
Please read Tim Rock’s wonderful send-off for Chomed in this blog space and please feel free to comment on either post with your stories or wishes for Chomed and/or his family.