Local Realtor's Life Features Icy Waters, Famous Whales, Military Service and the "Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart
It was 1993 when millions of Americans sat in theaters around the country and openly cheered as a giant orca whale somehow sailed through the air over the outstretched arms of a young boy, before ultimately swimming to safety in the open sea.
"Free Willy" was one of the year's biggest hits at the box office, as were its equally successful sequels two and four years later.
That movie scene required a good amount of Hollywood magic of course, but for West Virginia native and current coastal Delaware Realtor David Scherich, it soon turned into a real life situation with long lasting consequences.
To this day, it was one of the most important and personally satisfying missions the now 47-year-old real estate agent has ever embarked on.
"I don't know if it's the biggest thing I ever did during my time in the service, but it's definitely what I'm known for," says the 20-year United States Air Force veteran and father of two who currently lives in the town of Felton with his wife Natalie. "It was just one of those humanitarian type things and they wanted to free him from captivity. So we were called in to make that happen."
In 1998, Scherich flew on a C-17 cargo plane into the state of Oregon, where he and a handful of other airmen of the United States Air Force picked "Willy" up for a long flight to the waters off the coast of Iceland.
Researchers there believed they had found the family of Willy, whose real name is actually "Keiko," and wanted to return the domesticated mammal to familiar territory.
Scherich's own personal version of "Free Willy" was profoundly real, something he still remembers fondly all these years later. Even if things didn't go quite the way they were drawn up.
"The thing was that this was only supposed to be a three-day trip, but the landing gear on the plane broke when we landed in Iceland and we had to stay there for more than a month waiting for another plane to come and pick us up," Scherich recalls with a hint of a chuckle. "We definitely weren't prepared for that, so during that month we really just survived. We even ran out of money because they wouldn't take American Express in Iceland and that's all we had after a couple of weeks."
It was later surmised that the landing gear malfunctioned due to two contributing factors - the smaller runways that weren't wide or long enough to handle large military transport planes of the day and the fact that the "cargo," which included the whale, his container and thousands of gallons of water, was just too heavy, despite months of calculations and tests.
Thus, the six man crew was left to survive in a remote area of Iceland waiting for a ride home. It was an experience that left an indelible mark on the newly licensed First State Realtor, but it's far from the only experience that's defined his nearly half-century on the planet.
After completing his two decades in the United States Armed Forces, he spent a few years kind of figuring out what he wanted to do next. And then he found his newest passion in the wrestling ring, which continued until the onset of COVID-19 in early 2020.
Scherich hopes to return to the ring someday soon, but for now he's holding tightly onto that shiny championship belt. It is for safe keeping, after all.
"I'm a people person and I like to talk, so both the wrestling business and the real estate business are well suited for me," says Scherich, who is the co-owner of Infinite Professional Wrestling, which has featured such well-known wrestlers as Ron Simmons and the "Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart. "I once threw my hat in the wrestling ring, now I'm throwing it into another ring and trying real estate."
After some additional years working as a private investigator, David Scherich joined the Oldfather Group of Ocean Atlantic Sotheby's International Realty in November. He obtained his Delaware real estate license about a month later.
Says Oldfather Group Founder and Chief Executive Dustin Oldfather: "David has a thoughtful kindness about him. He has a deep emotional intelligence that served him well as an investigator and will serve our clients even better in the future."