Twilight Times Books
"When The Bullet Hits Your Funny Bone - The Essence of a U.S. Navy SEAL," takes the reader on an emotional roller-coaster ride of tragedy and laughter, giving the reader a complete inner circle view into the professional and personal lives of America's most elite warriors.
The Beginning of the Brotherhood
A long time ago on a warm summer day, I was walking down Main Street in my hometown. I looked into the window of the Navy recruiting office and saw three members of my high school swim team standing inside, so I walked in. I asked them what they were doing, and of course they said, “We are joining the Navy.”
I then asked, “What are you going to do in the Navy?”
The recruiter spoke up and said, “They are going to be Frogmen in the Underwater Demolition
“That sounds cool,” I said. “I want to do that too!” So, to the astonishment of my parents and a few friends, I tossed aside my full college scholarship, which I got for swimming, to Princeton University, and I enlisted in the United States Navy.
After I had completed Navy boot camp, I was sent to Jet Engine Repair School in the state of Tennessee. As you had to have a military rating/job description when you are in the Navy, working on jet engines, I thought, would be cool. However, later in my career, the only jets I saw were the ones flying over my head on their way to blow the crap out of whoever the designated bad guys were. Upon completion of Jet engine “A” school at Millington, Tennessee, I departed for Coronado, California to begin my UDT training.
When I arrived at the UDT training command/compound in Coronado, California, my class (number 58) was not to start training until the following week. After I had completed checking into the UDT training command (UDTRA), I was assigned guard duty.
The instructors told me that I was now a tadpole (the embryo of a frog/frogman), and I was to stand guard duty on the armory door until I was relieved by someone (the armory is where the instructors kept some weapons and pyrotechnics that they would use during our training), which I did.
There I was, 18 years old and standing guard duty on a locked steel door in my dress blue Navy uniform thinking about what type of training I was going to be subjected to, when out of one of the Quonset huts (a barracks for trainees) ran a trainee. An instructor spotted him, and the instructor yelled, “Freeze, you maggot!” The trainee did as the instructor requested, and stood at attention while facing the instructor who told the trainee to freeze.
I watched this instructor (who looked like the Hulk) as he walked up to the trainee, putting his face to within 6 inches of the trainee’s face, and he began yelling all kinds of obscenities at the trainee for not wearing his helmet while he was outside of his training barracks.
The yelling of obscenities ended with the instructor saying, “Drop down you dummy, and start doing pushups until “I” get tired!” The student started counting out his pushups and after about 100 pushups; the student was starting to struggle. The instructor began to yell more obscenities at the trainee for being so appallingly weak. As I stood there guarding the steel door of the armory, I was astonished as I watched this instructor kicking the trainee in the ribs with the side of his foot.
The sight of this instructor kicking the trainee troubled me, and I thought that the instructor had obviously lost his mind. So, I left my guard post at the armory door, and went into the office where the medical corpsmen were. I said to the corpsmen, “There is an instructor outside that is kicking one of the students in his ribs.”
One of the corpsmen looked at me and said “Really? Well, we have got to see this for ourselves! Lead the way, my good little tadpole!”
Both corpsmen got up from their desks and walked back outside with me; one of the corpsmen looked at me and said, “By God, you’re right, tadpole, just look at that instructor.” The other corpsmen yelled out to the instructor, “Hey Big Lou! You got a new tadpole here, and he left his guard post on the armory door just to squeal on you!”
Do you know that feeling you get when you think that you are in trouble? Well, this feeling was much worse. Now, this instructor, “Big Lou” (so named because he is 6’8” tall and 220 pounds), turned away from the trainee who was lying on the ground, and slowly walked towards me.
As “Big Lou” approached me, I could feel my heart pounding with fear. When Big Lou was standing inches from me, he leaned down and whispered in my face with a tone of meanness that would have scared the hell out of Satan himself. “Who the F--k do you think you are, tadpole? I am going to send you through hell on earth you little F--king, snitching, piece-of-shit, want-a-be maggot, and when I am done with your sorry little tadpole ass, you will either quit or you will DIE!”
As “Big Lou” turned to walk away from me, I saw the word “God” embroidered on the back of his instructor’s ball cap. I thought to myself, what the hell kind of training did I volunteer for? I never knew real fear until that day, and until that day, I never imagined the physical and mental torture to which I was going to be subjected by all the instructors, and in particular, Big Lou. Big Lou was on a mission, and I was going to be his daily target of opportunity.
During our class training, Big Lou was always quick to offer up many obscene words of encouragement to me, especially while standing on my stomach as I laid on my back and did flutter kicks. I was physically exhausted and hurting. However, for me, quitting was out of the question, and if I could help it, so was dying.
Every day of our basic training, our entire training class was mentally and physically tested. Once, while our training class was on a three-mile run, Big Lou would smoke a cigar and blow the smoke from his cigar into my face as we all ran down the beach. I felt like puking my guts out from breathing in that cigar smoke, but if I did puke, I was sure that Big Lou would have made me pick it up and eat it, or he would somehow torture me with it.
Whatever Big Lou’s sick mind would come up with, I knew that I would have to suffer through evil he devised to make me want to quit UDT training. Big Lou always singled me out as a “volunteer” for his sick little mind games, like the volcano. This is where all the trainees sit in a circle facing out, with me in the center. One day, before our class started our three-mile run down the beach. I was told to get wet in the surf zone, and after I was wet, I was told to dive into the center of the volcano. Big Lou would yell out, “Eruption!” and every trainee would start throwing sand over their heads to bury me in the center, after which we would all go for our run down the beach covered in sand.
The real God must have been upset at Big Lou for having his instructor hat embroidered with the name “GOD” on the back of it, and possibly (though doubtful), he felt some sympathy for me. Because as luck, or divine intervention, would have it, on my fourth week of training before “Hell Week” was to begin (this is one week of extreme physical and mental training without any sleep), Big Lou retired! I thank you God, both of you!
In truth, during my time in UDT training or BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training), our entire training class (including our officers) was always badgered, mentally and physically, by all the instructors.