Tribal council has spoken -- Marines and Navy help Survivor contestant reach final four
By Staff Sgt. Jonathan E. Agee
| | April 17, 2003
NAVAL STATION NEWPORT, RI --
It is five past midnight at Naval Station Newport and the base pool is open for a water survival class. Total darkness engulfs the pool. Explosions are blasting from a hidden speaker at the pool's entrance. In the pool, a class of fully dressed Navy Cadets swims laps. Above the explosions can be heard the voice of the head swim instructor, giving directions to the swimmers. Her powerful voice falls in direct contrast to her skinny figure. This is the first time the class has been to this training, yet many people seem to recognize her. Maybe, if the setting were on an island in Thailand, the class would have been able to place the face of this celebrity.
For most of the world, she is known as one of the last four contestants on Survivor 5 Thailand, but for the cadets at Naval Station Newport, she is the survival swim instructor.
Helen O. Glover is finally able to discuss her journey as a contestant on Survivor. Until this point, she has been bound by a contractual agreement that would not allow her to discuss any aspects of the show.
Glover's life as the daughter of a Marine Corps colonel, her job aboard Naval
Station Newport and her Marine son, all had an important impact to her advancing in
"I remember e-mailing my son, the Marine, and saying, hey guess what I did
today, I put in an application for Survivor," recalls Glover. "And I get back this very short email, 'Mom, Survivor? You hate to camp.'"
Not long after Glover sent the e-mail to her son, she was selected as one of the
first 500 applicants. At the time, Glover was on vacation in Hawaii, and was forced to
cut her vacation short 12 days to make the interview. "My command was supportive, but
I don't think they thought in a million years that I was going," admits Glover.
Three cuts later, 16 contestants were selected to make up the cast of Survivor 5.
The news of Glover making it on Survivor spread fast, and many people had the same
opinion of how she would fair in the game.
"I figured she would either take it all or be the first to go," said Capt. Matthew Fehmel, Recruiting Station Springfield executive officer and son of Glover. "She is very assertive but very street smart. In that game the assertive person who can't keep their feelings at bay are usually the first to be voted off."
"She has more energy than anyone I have ever met and I thought she would win
because of her tenacity," said Christine M. Hague, Naval Station Newport swim supervisor. "She is aggressive, she is forthright and she is very family oriented."
By the time Glover arrived in Thailand, she realized that this was going to be unlike anything she had ever done in her life, and her team was not going to make the situation any easier.
"When I first met them I thought there were the making of a good team, but I
didn't understand that we didn't immediately get together and talk about people's professions and what assets they had and how we could make that team stronger," said Glover. "We got out there and people were afraid to jump out there and be the leader."
Glover realized no one wanted to take charge because of the fear of failure, so she
began to play the game using her life experiences as the guiding factor. "My occupation and my background prepared me for Survivor," said Glover. "I moved every year, or just about every year, because my dad was in the Marines ? moving around helped me adapt to new situations and to quickly get into a school system and make a friend and get involved quickly."
Her current position as a survival instructor has also played a vital role in her success on Survivor. "Just dealing with different people all the time (as a swim instructor) and having to deal with different personalities when teaching, you have to be very flexible. Sometimes people's fear of the water can come out as a negative thing and they can appear to take it out on you, you have to get above that and realize thatsometimes that's frustration."
As the weeks passed and times got harder, Glover's ability to deal with people and adapt to different situations proved helpful. One of the toughest things she faced,however, was not her competitors or lack of food. Despite losing 30 pounds while on the island, Glover desired something more than food.
"As difficult as it was to be on really low rations, it was even more difficult to be separated from family," said Glover. "I really had a better understanding of what people who are in a war situation go through ? I know at one point if I was offered a meal or a visit from family, I would have taken the visit from family."
Throughout the show, Glover was able to adapt quickly and make friends, but two personality traits cost her the game -- honesty and trust.
"I know within the game of Survivor there are no rules," said Glover. "You can
backstab and you can lie and that's fair. However, when it came right down to it, knowing I was going to be on national TV? Is that the way I wanted to come off on TV? As the best liar there, the best deceiver there -- not really. I wanted to remember I'm coming back and living in this community and I wasn't going to do anything to dishonor my family, my name my or my job."
When it came down to the final four, Glover trusted in the other contestants and it cost her the game. Another contestant told her that they would not vote each other out, and then turned on her. She says she has no regrets, and would have played the game the same way if given another chance.
Her command continues to support her and admits that her celebrity status hasn't
changed her. "All the success she did have hasn't changed her a bit," said Navy Captain
Dan Brennock, commanding officer of the officer training command, then added tongue-
in-cheek, "We'll keep her a while longer,and also we don't ever want to see her go on the Bachelorette or any of that other stuff."
Glover is enjoying her celebrity experience and has been doing a lot of motivational speaking about Survivor and team building. She has also been part of a talk radio show and admits she would not mind doing either of the two as a career in the future.