Sunday, May 26, 2013
BUD/S: Part of the Making of a SEAL
Recruits will carry boats on their heads in different groups, and the groups change almost daily. You will have the tall ones, the smurfs, or any other groupings the instructors wish to make. There is always a healthy dose of what we might consider "disrespect" launched at the recruits in order to find out if, with sleep deprivation, they are going to snap. And if they choose to DOR, they usually have to ring the bell, which is mounted on the back of a pickup truck and driven down the beach while they run behind and try to catch it. Then you can quit. Not before the instructors level cat calls. Not before your whole class sees you begging to quit.
Part of the training involves carrying rubber boats, brought in from the surf, to the beach when the signal is given from shore. They carefully lift these boats over sharp jutting boulders as a team. They do it over and over again. All day long. Men fall, cut themselves, break ankles and shins, or just have the misfortune to come in last or next to last in the drill. Sometimes broken bones are not even mentioned so a recruit will continue to train and not have to roll back to another class. They can get pneumonia, mono, shin splints and sores from uniforms and wetsuits, worn for 5-6 days without removal, and their feet often turn green because they don't remove their shoes.
Some men come into BUD/S with a strategy. Some have a swagger and confidence in themselves through positive self talk. Some men go through the training just to find out what their own limits are, not necessarily to become a SEAL, but just to see if they could do it. In the end it is the personal battle each recruit has to weather. Each recruit has their own separate way they come to accept that either they can't do it, or they can.
When they graduate from this phase, they still have other major obstacles to overcome. Their training, in a way, begins after BUD/S. An instructor once told me that by the time they are done, they'll do just about anything, including jumping off a 3 story building, without thinking about it. We've all heard the stories about those like Michael Monsoor, who landed on a grenade, sacrificing his own life to save those of his Teammates. The SEAL training takes a good man and makes him a true warrior, a hero.
As we look at the flags waving on Memorial Day, let's remember these brave men, and the women who are lucky enough to love them.
God Bless them all.