Someone captured this photo of me coming off the beach after securing from Hell Week. The guy in the middle was our boat crew leader and could hardly walk. The guy on the other side was my swim buddy for all of BUD/S. I often get asked how people make it through SEAL training. In an organization looking for drive, determination, mental fortitude and a never quit attitude, that is using the crucible of Hell Week to determine who has those attributes, it was quite simple – never quit. Actually, it can be a bit more complicated than that, and I think it’s probably different for each person who decides to volunteer to put themselves to the test.
We are looking for those with grit. One of the great things about BUD/S is that regardless of when you go through, you are linked to the past and the future through a common experience with everyone who has ever worn the Trident. Whether they went through in 1968, 1985, 2007 or will be going through next year, we are all bonded through that shared experience. As I went through the program, particularly Hell Week, I thought of all those who had done things much more difficult than run around on the Coronado beach with a boat on their head getting yelled at by BUD/S instructors.
I thought of those who stormed the beaches at Normandy. I thought of those who fought island to island in the Pacific Campaign in WW II. I thought of the one and two person SF sniper teams waiting quietly for days in hide sites in the Ashau Valley as Viet Cong patrolled within feet of their positions. I thought of those who had endured at the Chosin Reservoir. I thought of Shackleton wintering over in Antarctica. I thought of Slavomir Rawicz and his fellow prisoners who escaped from a Soviet prison in Siberia, trekking all the way to India and to freedom. I thought of those who pledged their Lives, their Fortunes, and their sacred Honor to fight the most powerful military on earth in declaring Independence from Great Britain. I thought about how what I was doing in BUD/S paled in comparison to real hardship and adversity. That helped put it in perspective.