He is all the way up there and I’m here … but nevertheless there is this friendship and communication going.… It really built out a really nice, incredible friendship that is lasting until today. Roland de Knegt
I met Mr. Miscavige in 1994. At that time I was a diving instructor and I still am. And I owned a dive shop in Curaçao. I was invited by the Freewinds to spend two weeks onboard during Maiden Voyage, which is a yearly trip, to take care of some of their executives on any diving excursions. So, they said, you know, “We’re going to have some executives coming down, of the Church from LA, and would like you to take care of them for these two weeks—whenever they go diving, you’re the man.”
So, that’s what happened. And I remember the first time I met him, like he was very enthusiastic, you know, like, “My name is Dave,” you know.
During the years, I taught him everything I knew up to, you know, he became a Master Scuba Diver which includes like, things like he’s a Rescue Diver, he’s an Advanced Diver, he did wreck diving, night diving, deep diving, all the specialties I taught, he did.
He was always willing to learn and when he digs into a subject, he wants to know everything. So, we got him to a point, I think in 1999 when I didn’t have anything to teach him anymore, you know. So, I actually got myself certified as an instructor for Rebreathers, which is a special diving system that creates less bubbles in the water. And—so I could teach him that course. So we did that. But the main point was photography. And we did that in 1995 and I remember, they said, “Well he’s a, he’s a good photographer.” So I taught him, I taught him the basics and then when we went diving, I suddenly saw him turning all kind of dials and, you know, that I didn’t really explain yet, right? So I thought like well, he probably knows what he’s doing. But the pictures definitely showed it, like he’s a very accomplished photographer.
In 1999 we made a dive on an airplane wreck in Aruba and I mentioned to him after the dive, “You know, it would look good like a New Year’s card. I used to send New Year’s cards out to all my customers of my dive shop.” And, he said, “Well yeah, let’s do it,” you know. So the next day we went diving there again and we tried to make it like better and better, like first it was the airplane with me in it. Then it was the airplane with stewardesses in it. Then it was the airplane with stewardesses and a cab driver waiting outside. Then it was an airplane with everything else and a pilot in the cockpit.
So we expanded it from there and it was a point that I said, when we looked at the pictures, I said, “Dave, this is, you know, these are really good pictures.” He says, “Yes, yeah, they’re good.” And then at night I was called, we are going again, you know, so we looked at the pictures and he was not completely satisfied. And it actually took more than ten dives before he was totally satisfied with the pictures, that it encompassed all that he wanted to communicate with that picture. And it was like more or less a present to me, you know, like you can use this for your New Year’s card.
So what I learned from that is that, you never do anything as an amateur. When you do something, you do it as a professional, you know, to professional standards. And that’s what I really got, like he does not stop until it’s perfect. And to give you an example, that picture appeared in the Dutch Underwater Magazine without me even asking for it. They found out about it, somebody saw it and they printed it in the magazine. And even now, over the years that I went back to Holland, you still find that picture against the refrigerator with a magnet. So, you can imagine like that shot was really something and people just never threw it away. And it tells you about the quality of that.
Up to this day we are still in communication with each other. We write each other weekly letters. And it’s only positive. And it’s only about, you know, we tell each other jokes and just about the regular things in life. And that’s hundreds of letters over the years. And of course I felt like—what is it, you know. He is all the way up there and I’m here, like but nevertheless there is this friendship and communication going. So it’s not like, okay, you know, you’re just the diving instructor and I’m the leader of the Church. No, it really built out a really nice, incredible friendship that is lasting until today.