Sunday, May 26, 2013

BUD/S: Part of the Making of a SEAL

If any of you have watched the BUD/S classes train on the beach at Coronado, you already know what kind of a grueling course this is. It is the part of the training where more recruits drop out, DOR (Drop On Request). The men that make it to the BUD/S training have already proven themselves strong and worthy. Now they get to perform tasks with almost no sleep over a nearly week-long period of time.

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.

It's easy to identify a class that has made it through the training. They often walk hunched over, like crab-like creatures emerging from the surf. I've been told it sometimes takes a year for the hair on the top of their heads, often rubbed off from carrying those little rubber boats, to grow back.

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.

Those of us who are lucky enough to write military romance have to do things every day we don't necessarily want to. We have to make choices and some sacrifices. But they don't come anywhere close to some of the sacrifices these men make every day as they train and become U.S. Navy SEALs. I celebrate their focus and dedication. I cherish my life today because of the sacrifices some have made, some the ultimate sacrifice.

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.

Sharon Hamilton

10 comments:

  1. Wow this is so much information. thanks so much. i hope that you have had a great weekend.

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    1. Thanks, Cherie. Our hope in creating this blog was to bring our love of the military hero, and in my case, Navy SEALs, to readers everywhere. So glad you enjoyed the post and hope you keep coming back.

      I usually attend a local memorial this day. I walk with others, and listen to the beautiful American flags flapping in the breeze. And give thanks. The best way we can honor them is to tell fictional stories that will hopefully live forever.

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  2. W.O.W. I have watched BUDS training on the Military Channel. Read your books yet this tells in even sharper detail the struggles, the pain they endure. I know what's its like to try to walk on a broken ankle - but to run in the surf, the sand with one, no way. Thank you Sharon!!

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    1. Thank you, Gretchen. I do know of one class that almost was a complete washout. When they roll back, it can take months to be re-accepted again, and, depending on when they get injured, have to repeat some of the training they already withstood. Very tough, to be sure.

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  3. Thank you, Sharon, for sharing the BUD/S information on this special day. I love learning more about our military heros and heroines; I truly appreciate their sacrifices and service. God Bless them all.

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    1. Thank you, Karen. We are sisters, then.

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  4. Great post, Sharon! I've been told that it's the mental toughness that gets recruits through BUD/S and the rest of the training. People always focus on the Hell Week portion of the first phase, when in truth the constant grind never lets up throughout the program. I'm in awe that there are men out there who are a) willing, and b) able to put themselves through that to serve their country at the tip of the military spear.

    Thinking of all our fallen warriors today, and their families.

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  5. Marvellous post Sharon. The excellent gruelling training they recieve make them into the ultimate hero

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  6. Great post! I've happened to catch this training on the Military channel & I must say that you covered what that training is like. It is tough & gruelling. I don't know that tough is the right word here. It amazed me to see what our elite team goes thru in training & it most definitely is an honor well earned. Thank you!

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