Don’t RUST On My Parade*

“Petty Officer Marcom! Your Fifty Cals are Rusty!”

50 Cal NavyA

U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate Third Class Daniel J. Mark. Cleared for release by ALBG PAO, LCDR Jeff Bender.

Lance Sailor

Marco The Sailorman

I had to  admit. Yes they were. I had tried so hard to keep ahead of the rust, but here I found myself on the leeward side of the second half of a six-month, ‘round-the-whurl-West Pacific Deployment’, and somewhere just off the coast of Somalia.

Yes, rust was my enemy, certainly never my friend—the machine guns were always mounted while we (The USS Callaghan DDG 994, full cast and crew) were Haze-Gray and Underway.

Yes, always mounted and underway:

Haze-Graying, even then

And rusty

My Guns were always supposed to be… somewhere upon the sea… this is what they were purchased for…

And subject to rust. Rust Relentless. Relentless She Be: That Sea. That Salt of the Fucking Sea

Rust.

My Moby Dick-lessness! How could I not keep Rust off my guns?

Freud certainly would have had fun with me

(Sadly, now I know why)

************

My professional life was to be found somewhere rusting in those machine guns.

And that rust you see, that rust occupied a great deal of my daily routine.

The Navy had a solution though. She had provided canvas covers to cover those guns and make them safe from rust. Alas, those canvas covers had seen better days, probably back when Pearl Harbor was just an ordinary Naval Base that no one had ever heard of.

But rust is relentless and timeless.

While scrubbing the Indian Ocean rust off’n my fifty-cals one morning I hatched a plan. Knowing full well we were soon to pull into Mombasa Kenya, after so many month at sea, I conspired to save my money:

Once in Mombasa, I would smuggle one of the moth infected, salt- digested, jig saw’d, Swiss Cheese, ‘holy’ canvas shards off the ship. I would rent a taxi, find me a young child, show him my smuggled ‘prize’, ask him to direct me somewhere, where I could find and nickel and dime (I did not have much money then, not un-life-like now) find a leather shop in Mombasa, present to the leather-maker my Holy Canvas, My Shroud,  My Naval Career, and demand, (for US Dollars), that he make me four such more yet new and brand new.

And functional.

And This is exactly what I did, and to the amazement and astonishment of my Master Chief Petty Officer and my Department Head (almost a Navy Commander… he kind of looked like JFK, now that I think on it. I  did not like particularly like him, but I respected him. Hell, he reminded me of all the things I could have been if I had joined the Nav when I was twelve instead of twenty-eight (Different story. Sorry)

The next time they inspected my Fifty Cals, they were pristine! (They did not take notice nor time to notice that the canvas covers were not exactly Haze-Gray-Naval Gray. No, more like Third-World-Rustic, with just a tiny bit of water buffalo…left over…but Goddamn sure water and sea salt proof.   

And I was so desirous that they did NOT notice, but my Master Chief did notice, yet, never ever noticing nor voicing his ‘inner thoughts’ in front of what he referred to as “Shit Birds” — ‘Officers’ — Never let on.

Master Chief never, ever let out his truth thoughts in front of Shit – Birds. This was his genius. 

And I should have been cognizant of this, yet I was so somewhat giddy after my .50 Cals had finally passed inspection, that I did not stop to think on that anymore. “Not even Master Chief had seen through my ruse” Yeah, Rite!

 I was drunk with my own cleverness and lying back on my back in my rack, curtain drawn,  congratulating me.

(Now, you must realize how the Military Mind works. I was my Ship’s Armor All–Armorer– IN Charge of All The Ship’s Small Arms! .225 Cal to .50 Cal. If it took two men to lift, wasn’t mine. But one-man-band? Yep!  I was the shit!  I was a Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class! Freshly rocked out of SEAL Training (twice now, but who counts these sorts of thing? I suppose I do) and trying to retain what little was left of my  pride and my so-fifty-caliber-called-life.)

And I loved and Respected My Master Chief. Did not ever want to become an embarrassment to him, nor to my Fellow Gunner’s Mates who worked on the “Big Guns”. (Those ones what ‘bullets’ took two and a half-men to lift)

And even more important, (anyone who has ever ‘Served’ will know this), the Military is Run On Fear:

“Oh God, Please Don’t Let Me Fuck UP!”

That kind of fear.

Well, as I was lying on my back in my middle rack right before Taps with my little blue ‘privacy’ curtain drawn back when someone jerked that sucker back.

Along with my reverie.

Yep.

Master Chief Anderson!

MY MASTER CHIEF

“Son, tell me where you found those brand new gun covers.”

Trying to lie on my side and find an elbow to lean to, I half-coughed out, feigning sleepy-eyed ignorance,

“Master Chief, I had them made while we were in Mombasa.”

(There are people one may lie to in life, but, A Master Chief Petty Officer in the US Navy is not one found amongst those people. Not if one wishes life beyond that moment of sweet deception)

“I see”, was all he said, as he yanked my curtain back shut, thus leaving me alone with my various and sundry.

I did not sleep that night. For you see, I knew I had broken Naval Regs by doing something not-in-the Naval-Seaman’s-Bible–The Blue Book–The book, inches thick as a brick,  “The Book” I had been made to almost memorize while at Recruit Training Command, i.e. boot camp.

41XgCzuhSdL._AC_UL320_SR214,320_

I had broken the rule.

In the Nav, there is a sea sailor preamble, most requisite when one wants to recount a story of ‘when ships were made of wood and men were made of iron’… “When Moses was a pup” This validates and is a ritual never broken. In other words, one never breaks the rule.

Sometime mid-morning the next day, I was summoned to the berth/office of  The Department Head of my Division, Lt. Commander ‘Kennedy’.

Shitting bricks is too trite.

I was nervous.

I gave a hearty rap on the bulkhead door as I was trained to do in boot camp…

“Enter!”

“Petty Officer 3rd Class Marcom Sir!”

“I know who you are Lance; sit down.”

(What??? Lance??? Sit Down???)

Mouth agape I sat down, speechless

“Son, Master Chief Anderson tells me you went out on your own, designed, commissioned, smuggled off a prototype, and paid for, with your own money, those .50 Cal Gun Covers. Is this true?”

“Yes, uh, yessir,” I stammered.

“Well, that shows some fine initiative. How much did you pay Son?”

“Un Sir. Doesn’t matter…. I just, well, the .50 Cals, you know SIR,  cost ten-thousand dollars each, and I thought…rust….an…”

“How much did you pay?!”

“250 Dollars Sir.”

Without saying a word he opened a little three-lock-box (OK; I made that up. It was only a one-lock-box) that he had in a drawer, carefully opened it, and proceeded to hand me two-hundred and fifty bucks.

American

I sat there, dumb founded,  a moment too long, still in shock, looking at the bills in my hand…

“Petty Officer Marcom! “

“Huh…Uh, Huh… Sir?”

“You’re dismissed!”

Jumping up, knocking my chair over,  some tears welling in my eyes,

“Yessir!”

As I saluted him and abruptly left his quarters, quite in haste.

And thus I had survived yet another day in MY  Beloved Navy.

And Just As a Reminder Kids:

Don’t Rain on my Parade: I have enuff Rain for All

 

*And this just once more a rough draft, full of error, so be kind. Trust me: there is no harsher critic of me than me. I sweat commas. 

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Running In Soft Sand: Intro

This is Post One of a New old Series (and one I promise to be faithful to)

Below I will regale y’all with all my Navy SEAL BUD/s training reckless, feckless experiences. Reliving it for me, is better than it actually was. (Trust me on this one) 

However, before we dive in, please  watch the below. For if you do, you will get so much more value out of my words (also found below)

And if I am to continue This Series, I need just one of you, just one of YOU,  to ‘get it.’ So, let’s get it, shall we?

I was in Class One Forty and Class One Fifty Eight, but some things (in SEALs) are always constantly constant)

So, here we go….

***

Zero Four. Alarm going off! I knock it off the nightstand. It whimpers for an instant and then grows silent. “Now Run Tell That!” as Peanut would say.

Four o’clock!? Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!

Where am I? Who am I? Do I need to ‘be’ someplace at four-oh-fucking-clock? Of course I do. I start to remember, shaking some dust from my addled mind. I need to be in Coronado. At BUD/s. And I need to be there by zero-five. Fuck! Fuck!

Karen stirs beside me.

“What’s up?” she asks with morning breath and sleepy eyes.

“Go back to sleep,” I say. “I’ll see you later.” (Much later)

Dragging my hung over self out of our bed in La Mesa California, I get dressed and stumble down the stairs, trying ever so careful to not awake the house in my doing so at such an un-Godly-hour. Four o’clock!

Fuck!

Seated in my Toronado, I crank her up, back out of the drive and head west. To BUD/s. God help me.

Of course I had been through this before: back in ’86. I was what some could call a ‘Two-Time Loser.’ Yeah, this weren’t my first attempt at SEAL training. And certainly not my first rodeo. I continued west.

Presently I arrived at the BUD/s compound (For the uninitiated: Basic Underwater/Demolition slash SEAL Training—Yeah—My Navy is fond of acronyms)

Went into my ‘hooch’ and threw on the lights.

“Goddamn it! Marcom!” was the chorus I was greeted with. “I hate you!”

“Drop yer cocks and grab yer socks!” I yelled. (I have lived my life every day, waiting for an opportunity to say this)

“Huh?”

“It’s time to daince gen’telmens. Let’s git to it!”

“Ah fuck!”

“Yep! Fuck!”

I took a dip of snuff as I watched my roommates get dressed. We were due to meet up with the rest of our class, One Fifty-Eight, in about ten mikes.

“Hurry the fuck up!” I yelled at my sleepy ‘roommates’.

“And you… you shut the fuck up, Petty Officer Mar—cone.”

“I’m doin’ ya’ll a favor, getting you up early so you can get all yer constitutionals done in time,” I said.

“What-ever!”

“Let’s go,” I said.

We proceeded down to our class muster point, mustered up with about seventy other disgruntled ‘grunts’—poly-wogs—and ran into the ‘grinder.’

We sang in unison as we did so:

“TO MY LEFT!

“TO MY LEFT!

“HOOYAH

“HOOYAH

“HOO–YAH!!!”

Class One Five Eight had arrived at BUD/s. God save and send us.

On the grinder (asphalt parking lot) there were little paintings of fin-feet, designating where the pollywogs were to assemble for PT (Physical… Uh… training. Read: torture)

Thusly assembled, we waited for the SEAL Instructor to show. During our wait, we knew we were supposed to sing. You see? The singing arouses the instructor and God knows we wanted him aroused:

So we sang:

“Drank Drank Drank

“Drunk Drunk Drunk

“Drunk last night

“Drunk the night before

“Gonna get drunk like I never got before

“’Cause when I’m drunk I’m happy as can be

“’Cause I’m a member of the Frog Fam’ily…

“Oh the Frog Fam’ily is the best family

“That ever sailed a’cross the sea….”

 And on an’ on. You get the idea.

The instructor arrived in full regalia: UDT shorts, T-Shirt, and attitude. There was a platform of sorts in front of us (Just for His Holiness, the PT SEAL instructor to ‘preach’ from)

We stood erect at attention… waiting to hear his first pronouncement. We did not have to wait long.

“What a fucking sorry lot! This is the worst class I have ever seen! Get wet! AND SANDY!!!”

Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!

“Gonna be a long day,” I thought to myself as we all ran to the Pacific to get wet and then sandy on the beach…

And the day had not even yet begun…

Russia won our war

Or, If you desire:

“I’m the reason God Made Oklahoma.” (See? I can say that. Why? Because my second was an Okie and, by parley, that makes me bonafide—so there!)

Feel better?

Vid Credit? S. West (Who Else??)

This I took to Navy SEAL training…

  I did this!
Goda,mn it!

I did this!

Perhaps, I think too much.

There is a really meognorical … reason

And if case y’all missed it: “meognorical” is Francais for “Megalomaniac-is-all”

Since I ‘Missed’ TBT this past week…

I simply MUST catch up. Below please find one of MY Personal Favorites:

“SEAL Training: Psych Evaluation”

***

While stationed at Great Mistakes (Errrr…Great Lakes) Naval Training Command, I did my due diligence and qualified for BUD/s (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training in Coronado, California)

After passing the physical physical and clearing all the other stuff (mostly based upon my ASVAB scores and my ability to swim like a dolphin), A Final Task faced me: I had to pass unblemished through an interview with a psychiatrist. Just a formality, right? (Last hurdle: “Lance, do NOT fuck this up.”)

Sailor

Sailor Lance

This should be fun,” I recall thinking as I waited for my interview.

I was eventually summoned and sat my ass down in front of a geeky, mouse-eyed shrink. He obviously had ‘issues’ of his own. This I could discern straight-away from his limp-wristed demeanor. And obviously the only SEAL he had ever met was in some vain dream fantasy.

No matter. I was there just to get my ticket punched.

After a dozen or so stupid questions about such things as how did I feel about my mother, have I ever killed anything (Uh, do frogs count?), the price of tea in China, ad nauseam, he came to his pièce de résistance:

“Seaman Marcom,” he broached, “If you were ordered by your SEAL Team Leader to go in and clear a room whilst on a mission, and you burst into this room only to discover an elderly lady in a rocking chair reading a bible, what would you do?”

I waited for my dramatic pause, then said,

“Sir, I would shoot the bible.”*

Smiling, I observed him take his rubber stamp out and stamp “Approved” on my papers.

“California Here I Come”

Right Back Where I Started From

Video Credit: L. Heitmann via YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/user/IrRrIS1l3nt

*Footnote:

In the Nav, we have bombastic bullshit ‘tellings’, euphemistically known as ‘Sea Stories’. These are always introduced with the mandatory preamble:

“Now, this is a no-shitter…”

The above telling (though completely factual) is a wonderful example of same.

It’s Memorial Day Weekend: Go find yourself a Sailor and say, “Hey Sailor, New in Town?” Then hug him/her.

 

Throw-Back: “The Cowards Never Started and the Weak Died Along the Way”

And Yet One More Post From the email Archives:

***

Please tell me all about your therapy session today once it is done. I know a little about back trouble as I went through some during my Navy SEAL training. I know there is nothing worse than that for pain. There were several days during that training whereby I thought it would be better to be dead than run/swim yet another step. Somehow we always managed just one more step. “The only easy day was yesterday” was our mantra and that had been passed down over the years to all BUD/s classes.

There was one guy in my first class (Class 140) who actually broke his femur during a fun little evolution called “Rock Portage.” For two days he remained in training after that. His roommates would walk him about every morning until his leg got numb. Obviously he couldn’t keep up on any of the evolutions and the SEAL instructors kicked him out. No one knew his leg was broken. Once he was drummed out and had gone to Balboa Naval Hospital they told him he had a broken femur. Imagine his surprise!

Rock-portage1

Rock Portage

Hahahah!  A footnote: Seems his father was a retired SEAL. Well when daddy found out how his son had been kicked out of training for having a broken leg, yet still “putting out” to use the vernacular, he was, shall we say, livid. Needless to say, the kid in question was apologized to (ad nauseam) and invited to return once healed so that he would have an opportunity to break the other leg. I talked to him about this and he told me he’d had enough, but then I ran into him a few weeks later and he told me he would be coming back. It takes a special kind of idiot to go through that. I know, as I was just such an idiot. Twice. I suppose that’s why they call it “Special Forces.”

We had a guy in my second BUD/s class (158) whose name was Lundtmark. One day while we were running the obstacle course he got to the very top of the cargo net (roughly 60 feet above the beach) and fell off.

cargo net1

Whoosh!

Bam!

Boom!

Cloud of dust!

He survived, but from that day forward Lundtmark was reborn and known as “Sand-Dart.”

Some of the funniest moments I recall were during “Drown Proofing.” Drown-proofing is quite simple: one’s ankles are tied up and one’s wrists tied together behind one’s back. Then the “wog” (Short for pollywog, a neophyte, wanna-be SEAL) must simply swim 100 meters in 12 foot deep water. Once that is accomplished, the wog must do some acrobatic maneuvers underwater while still tied up and then somehow get to the bottom and pick up a scuba mask with his teeth and bring it to the edge of the pool where the instructors await to pull him out and beach him. All great fun.

I never had any apprehension with this evolution since I am very relaxed in water. Others had slightly more trouble. One idiot after being cast into the water did nothing but bob up and down screaming, “I’m drowning! I’m drowning! Save me!” As he would get close to the edge of the pool the instructors would push him back toward the middle using long poles while yelling, “You idiot! If you were drowning, you wouldn’t be able to say you’re drowning!” It was all great fun, but I suspect you’d have had to actually been there at that precise moment to fully appreciate it.

drownproofing

Drownproofing

Another idiot didn’t even make it into the water. His name was “Feather.” (His name really was Feather and he was a body-builder which made him a target of opportunity for the instructors’ “special attention.”) Well, seems Feather had second thoughts about BUD/s and his desire to “Kill some Commie Bastards” when it came time for drown-proofing. As soon as we were told to start getting tied up, Feather bolted. He actually ran away! Just like a little bitch. Never saw him again.

He’s probably still running…

The Real Story of Diego Garcia, Part Three

Part One Here

Part Two Here

The Eighties Kinda Sucked For Me. Not horribly but slightly. Now I will digress and tell you why.

During the Eighties, I came home from Egypt and SFM. I had spent the last three years of the Seventies in the Sinai Desert and these were glorious years for me. 

During the (very early) Eighties, actually very late Seventies, I got married.

At the beginning of the Eighties, Ronald Reagan was president and I was twenty-two years old: could not deny me or tell me anything! I had ‘seen’ the World!

Ronnie

During the Early Eighties, the Prime Lending Rate went from nine percent to twenty percent, thus making it real difficult for me to sustain a Small Business loan for my Tropical Fish Store.

I overcame all of this. By sheer guts and asshole-ness. (and by writing a seriously hot check, for three thousand dollars! I gave a shit not.)

But, I embraced it:

And somewhat thrived. Trickle Down, as they say, but not to mention, my bride and I slept on Army Cots for two years… We slept with the fishes.

And ate baked potatoes, cooked in a microwave which we had stolen borrowed. With pressed ham.

And the occasional onion… on Saturdays. And bacon on Sundays. And sometimes sour cream on Mondays.

We eventually left that place (after four years) Yep, we escaped Nacogdoches, Texas, which for us had been what we could imagine living in The Movie ‘Deliverance’ would have been like.

We escaped to Plano, Texas, which for many (but not us), was like living in the TV Show ‘Dallas’.

We discovered that we were more poor there than anywhere. In Nacogdoches we were ‘business owners’. In Plano we were just scum: no furniture, no fixtures, no nada: SCUM. We got thrown out of our first apartment because “Y’all don’t have no furniture and y’all are sleeping on the floor. This violates y’all’s lease agreement. Goodbye.”

We soldiered on…

We did sell, at a garage sale, damn near everything we owned, to include my prized Celestron Telescope and my wife’s Mikasa China from her first marriage.

Just to eat.

(Food was a prerequisite back then)

Finally….

We made a stance.

My Long-time Bride and my Soul-Mate, and a veteran of the “hard days” tole me one day,

She said, “Lance’, this is no way to live! Do something! Any thing!”

So, I did.  I told her I was gonna join the U.S. Navy. And send her all her allotment and everything else. And meant it.

She initially balked at this  (and she was former U.S. Army Reserve) at that time.

She said to me, and I quote:

“Lance, you are gonna do this thing, right? Then, I ask of you one thing: I wanna be a house-wife for just one year… can you give me that?”

“Yes! I said.”

So I got another job and worked my ass…

And I gave her her one year.

Then I joined the Navy.

And I did not see her again for ten years.

And sometimes after all these years, I still miss our poverty days, because we were so happy being poor.

And I did serve my country, just as I had promised her I would (We, The Both, were Patriots, by an’ by…)

Navy!

tex flag

 

What does any of this have to do with Diego Garcia?

Stay tuned…

Diego Garcia, or some could say, “McHale’s Navy”

“Diego Garcia? Huh? Never heard of it.”

Lots of folks have not: Don’t despair. I spent thirty glorious days there back in ’86. After my first failed attempt at BUD/s, the Nav sent exiled me to the USS Callaghan DDG 994, a Khomeini-Class Guided Missile Destroyer.

It was called a ‘Khomeini Class’ because along with three sister-ships, she was built for the Iranian Navy (When The Shah was still the Big Man About Town). The ships were not yet commissioned, not ever close, when His Wonderfulness, The Ayatollah came back to hang up his shingle and Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, His Shah-Ness had booked out on his World Tour to cure cancer (his).

And naturally, after the Birds Sang And Shah went away, we just had to keep these ships for our own self(s). Such is History…

DDG 994

My Belov’d USS Callaghan

Anyway, that may be too much information for my purposes here.

After I had mustered onboard the Callaghan, I was informed that I was ‘One Lucky Squiddy Sonuvabitch’ (That’s ‘Naval’ parlance for ‘Sailor’.)

“Why? Why am I lucky?” I just had to ask, as I really wasn’t feeling all-that-lucky after having ‘rocked out’ of SEAL training only to wake up in ‘The Black Shoe, Haze Gray and Underway Gray-Hound’ Navy.

“You are lucky Son,” my Senior LPO informed me, “because we are going on a ‘World Cruise’. And most sailors spend an entire career without such an opportunity.”

“Oh Goody,” I thought, I done been ‘round the whurl’. So what? “Six months away from the only pussy I had finally managed to find for me in San Dog (San Diego). Perfect.” Didn’t actually verbalize that, by the way. I probably said something like, “Gee Wally, I love the idea.” (Without the ‘Wally’ part—I ain’t stupid, ya know.)

Now, I would love to write about this entire cruise, and perhaps I may, but for the purposes of this post, I am gonna skip to the middle, as this is supposed to be about Diego Garcia.

About Month ‘two-and-a-half’, we were cut off  severed culled from our Battle Group and ordered to do some ‘Independent Steaming’ in the Northern ‘IO’ (That’s Navy vernacular for “Indian Ocean.”) We were to rendezvous with the rest of the Fleet at some later unspecified date. (Presumably to us, after they had some proper ‘Liberty’ somewhere up in the Med… You know: Shit-Holes like Toulon France, or Athens, or Palma, Majorca.)

mallorca

Mallorca

(Fun Fact: The Justified Reason for Our Wonderful World Cruise: We were to escort the USS Kitty Hawk, an old ‘Bird Farm’, i.e., Aircraft Carrier, to ‘No-Fuck’, I mean ‘Norfolk’ Virginia Naval Base. You see, The ‘Shitty Kitty’ just could not fit through the Panama Canal. Hence, we had to take the long way to her new home.

For the sake of some brevity, I will merely recount here that we got ‘Stuck’ in the Northern IO, as The Russians and the Iranians were acting ‘stupid’ and kept harassing us. (Fly-Overs by Ruskies, Iranians threatening to blockade the Straits of Hormuz. You know, typical Eighties’ shit and actually not unexpected.

Now like most U.S. Government Bureaucracies, The Department of the Navy had a budget. We spent so much time on ‘Picket Station’ (Making five knots up and down the North IO, ‘Patrolling’) that we had simply used up our fuel allotment.

(Fun Fact: In the U.S. Navy once Squiddies have not seen land for forty-five days, they get to have a ‘Beer Day’. Yep. That’s right. They chopper in cases of beer, laced with formaldehyde, as a preservative, don’cha know, and each Sailor gets two, count ‘em two beers. Gives a raging headache and ‘Old Salt’ Sailors would not even drink them; they would sell theirs to the neophytes. I was one such neophyte. And yes, I got the raging headaches. Never again.)

What to do?

Send us to port!

Hallelujah! Port!

Guess what?

The ‘Port’ was Diego Garcia: A No-Where’s-Ville In the Middle of the Vast ‘Nowhere’ that is the Indian Ocean.

diego-garcia

We were all so very fucking excited.

To Be Continued (I Promise) Update: Part Two Here

Here is a good Sailor / Soldier Song (If ya like Kris that is)

Anchors Aweigh!

USN Flag

OK:

Just could not resist:

 

SEAL Training: Psych Eval

While stationed at Great Mistakes (Errrr…Great Lakes) Naval Training Command, I did my due diligence and qualified for BUD/s (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training in Coronado, California)

After passing the physical physical and clearing all the other stuff (mostly based upon my ASVAB scores and my ability to swim like a dolphin), A Final Task faced me: I had to pass unblemished through an interview with a psychiatrist. Just a formality, right? (Last hurdle: “Lance, do NOT fuck this up.”)

Sailor

Sailor Lance

This should be fun,” I recall thinking as I waited for my interview.

I was eventually summoned and sat my ass down in front of a geeky, mouse-eyed shrink. He obviously had ‘issues’ of his own. This I could discern straight-away from his limp-wristed demeanor. And obviously the only SEAL he had ever met was in some vain dream fantasy.

No matter. I was there just to get my ticket punched.

After a dozen or so stupid questions about such things as how did I feel about my mother, have I ever killed anything (Uh, do frogs count?), the price of tea in China, ad nauseam, he came to his pièce de résistance:

“Seaman Marcom,” he broached, “If you were ordered by your SEAL Team Leader to go in and clear a room whilst on a mission, and you burst into this room only to discover an elderly lady in a rocking chair reading a bible, what would you do?”

I waited for my dramatic pause, then said,

“Sir, I would shoot the bible.”*

Smiling, I observed him take his rubber stamp out and stamp “Approved” on my papers.

“California Here I Come”

Right Back Where I Started From

Video Credit: L. Heitmann via YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/user/IrRrIS1l3nt

*Footnote:

In the Nav, we have bombastic bullshit ‘tellings’, euphemistically known as ‘Sea Stories’. These are always introduced with the mandatory preamble:

“Now, this is a no-shitter…”

The above telling (though completely factual) is a wonderful example of same.

It’s Memorial Day Weekend: Go find yourself a Sailor and say, “Hey Sailor, New in Town?” Then hug him/her.

 

Pain

Picking up from the last half-chapter…

Matt, Rogers, and I were in Viva Young. I had been smitten.

But the smite –her was elusive, so Matt and I retired to the pool tables. Me hoping to fleece him outta some beer money. He hoping for good conversation and Lance Good Wolf-Ticket talk.

We both got what we wanted, until…

Until Pain walked in.

Pain (his real name) was my roommate back when I was in BUD/s Class 140. Pain was a pain in the ass. He was a tow-head boy, weighing in at about 150. All attitude. Bad attitude. He reminded me of Peanut, without the good to outweigh the bad. I did not like his style.

One of My Girls, (yes they were ‘mine’—this was My Bar, wasn’t it?) brought me a beer and said,

“Hey! Dat guy just walk in, he Na-bee Seal.”

“Yes Honey. I know him.”

“He yor frien?”

“Nope. He is trouble, and thanks for the beer.”

Still holding my pool cue, I walked over to Pain.

“Hey Pain!” I said. “How’s it hangin’?”

“Hey Ya.  Uh… don’t I know you from somewhere? Oh yeah; Buds. Back in ’86.”

“Yeah,” I said. “Class one forty. You were my roommate for a spell, until you got kicked out for smacking my other roommate upside the head.”

“Yeah he was an idiot.”

“Don’t think so. He was my Friend.”

“What was yer name? Mark… something or other… Mark..um…?”

“Yeah, that’s right: Marcom.”

“You rocked out didn’t ya?”

“Yeah, I rocked out. Got hurt. Apparently you made it. In SEALs.”

“Yeah, I didn’t rock out.”

“Good for you.”

“Wanna beer?”

“No Pain, I do not. What I want is for you to take your ass outta here. You see, this bar is for ‘Black Shoe Sailors’—Fleet Sailors. This is MY bar, and we don’t really want all you prima-donnas hangin’ out here. This is a private bar—my bar—So… mosey on on.”

“I go where I please. Fuck you!”

“Excuse me, but this ain’t your kind of place. This place is not big enuff to house your Navy SEAL ego; I suggest you amble on down to The California Club on Magsaysay. They have high ceilings and lots of bar girls. You will be welcomed there.”

“You’re pissing me off.”

By this point, I had reversed my grip on the pool cue, and turned it into a baseball bat. Matt came up to my shoulder and whispered,

“Lance, don’t do it.”

I had forty pounds on Pain. I could take him without the pool stick.

Mama-San, ever astute, came up to me and said,

“Sailor Man, you may need to sit down.”

I said, “Mama-San, Not until this asshole leaves.”

She said, “Okay, but you gonna fix the furniture.”

Standing two heads high over him, I turned back to Pain, “You need to leave Son.”

“Maybe I will check out that California Club after all.” He said. And left.

The Jar Heads on the other side of the bar applauded. One said,

“Great job! Squiddy! That guy is an asshole. Seen him around town.”

“Thanks!” I said. Then yelled, “Hey! Mama-San! Bring me a beer! I just saw my life flash in front of me!” (Not really. I fear no man, but it makes for good prose, eh?)

Pain was actually a good guy. But an asshole. Certainly I can relate, being same.

“The Cowards Never Started and the Weak Died Along the Way”

And Yet One More Post From the email Archives:

************

Please tell me all about your therapy session today once it is done. I know a little about back trouble as I went through some during my Navy SEAL training. I know there is nothing worse than that for pain. There were several days during that training whereby I thought it would be better to be dead than run/swim yet another step. Somehow we always managed just one more step. “The only easy day was yesterday” was our mantra and that had been passed down over the years to all BUD/s classes.

There was one guy in my first class (Class 140) who actually broke his femur during a fun little evolution called “Rock Portage.” For two days he remained in training after that. His roommates would walk him about every morning until his leg got numb. Obviously he couldn’t keep up on any of the evolutions and the SEAL instructors kicked him out. No one knew his leg was broken. Once he was drummed out and had gone to Balboa Naval Hospital they told him he had a broken femur. Imagine his surprise!

Rock-portage1

Rock Portage

Hahahah!  A footnote: Seems his father was a retired SEAL. Well when daddy found out how his son had been kicked out of training for having a broken leg, yet still “putting out” to use the vernacular, he was, shall we say, livid. Needless to say, the kid in question was apologized to (ad nauseam) and invited to return once healed so that he would have an opportunity to break the other leg. I talked to him about this and he told me he’d had enough, but then I ran into him a few weeks later and he told me he would be coming back. It takes a special kind of idiot to go through that. I know, as I was just such an idiot. Twice. I suppose that’s why they call it “Special Forces.”

We had a guy in my second BUD/s class (158) whose name was Lundtmark. One day while we were running the obstacle course he got to the very top of the cargo net (roughly 60 feet above the beach) and fell off.

cargo net1

Whoosh!

Bam!

Boom!

He survived, but from that day forward Lundtmark was reborn and known as “Sand-Dart.”

Some of the funniest moments I recall were during “Drown Proofing.” Drown-proofing is quite simple: one’s ankles are tied up and one’s wrists tied together behind one’s back. Then the “wog” (Short for pollywog, a neophyte, wanna-be SEAL) must simply swim 100 meters in 12 foot deep water. Once that is accomplished, the wog must do some acrobatic maneuvers underwater while still tied up and then somehow get to the bottom and pick up a scuba mask with his teeth and bring it to the edge of the pool where the instructors await to pull him out and beach him. All great fun.

I never had any apprehension with this evolution since I am very relaxed in water. Others had slightly more trouble. One idiot after being cast into the water did nothing but bob up and down screaming, “I’m drowning! I’m drowning! Save me!” As he would get close to the edge of the pool the instructors would push him back toward the middle using long poles while yelling, “You idiot! If you were drowning, you wouldn’t be able to say you’re drowning!” It was all great fun, but I suspect you’d have had to actually been there at that precise moment to fully appreciate it.

drownproofing

Drownproofing

Another idiot didn’t even make it into the water. His name was “Feather.” (His name really was Feather and he was a body-builder which made him a target of opportunity for the instructors’ “special attention.”) Well, seems Feather had second thoughts about BUD/s and his desire to “Kill some Commie Bastards” when it came time for drown-proofing. As soon as we were told to start getting tied up, Feather bolted. He actually ran away! Just like a little bitch. Never saw him again.

He’s probably still running…