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Christopher Walkin

Below is a debrief from Christopher Walkin when he attended training here. It’s actually Evan who does a mean impression of Walkin and once we laughed the first time he did it we could not get him to stop doing it for the rest of the course.

Chris "Evan" attended the May Platoon Training and the September AOT and below is his video... Don Shipley

I shut the back door to my car and threw my duffel bag over my shoulder. I began walking towards an opening in the trees where an Extreme SEAL Experience banner was hanging. I couldnt help but laugh a little to myself as I walked under it. What the hell am I about to get into? I thought to myself. Different conversations with Don Shipley were being repeated in the back of my head as I passed by the pond in front of our cabin. So are you a young aspiring SEAL? Don asked me over the phone. No Im not actually planning on a military career. Im looking to go to college for writing. I responded. When wed talk, Hed usually say things like alright well were gonna get this thing done man and alright badass, talk soon.

I knocked on the door to the cabin and a stocky, strong-looking kid opened the door and said his name was Elliot and another kid named Josh introduced himself. I introduced myself and Elliot told me where the bunks were and to stencil my last name on the front and back of my white t-shirt. Josh was talking about how much he wished he was staying for advanced training but he would only be there for Hell Night. He was wearing a shirt with special ops guys wearing balaclavas and holding mp-5s on it. He knew all kinds of things about SEALs and BUD/s and told Elliot and I that he had a SEAL contract for August. Soon after I got in, Diane walked in. Oh howd I miss you comin in? Youre gonna want to take off that shirt till tomorrow or theyre gonna be all over ya sweetie. See, Im the nice one. Yall got any problems and you come to me. She said. I changed out of my shirt with Van Auken stenciled on it. Doug showed up a little after Diane. Doug was fifty years old. He was in great shape and as Id find out later, a great team leader! Doug was here for our April Hell Night last year. Hes a badass! Diane said.

My mind was getting steadily adjusted to its new environment and the idea of this experience I was about to go through. Don eventually arrived and there was a TV crew with him. By then, everyone was there and the two TV guys introduced themselves to everybody and made sure no one had a problem with being on camera. They worked with Mack and one of the guys told us about how hed done Pros vs. Joes and some other well-known shows.

We all crowded around a shed outback. There were posters of Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi on both doors that had cash rewards written on them for his capture and descriptions of his crimes against humanity. Don talked about how this guy liked to open his shit-pipe and where that got him, which was dead obviously. Id been wondering this whole time, in the back of my mind, when I would see Mack from Future Weapons and there he stood next to Don. He never introduced himself but hed make up for that tomorrow. There were bins put out in front of us with our cammo trousers and blouses and our boonie hats. Don introduced us all to another SEAL who was standing next to him named Ben. He explained that if any of us were familiar with the book Lone Survivor Ben was put on the helicopter that went in to rescue Lt. Michael Murphy, Matthew Axelson, Danny Dietz, and Marcus Luttrell. At the last minute, Ben and a few other SEALs were told to get off the helicopter because it was too heavy and that they would return in 15 minutes to pick up the second wave. The helicopter was shot down by an RPG and never returned. And if they hadnt made him get off that helicopter, he wouldnt be standing here today. Don said. Ben, standing there next to him gave slight nod. Id learn a lot from Ben later during my time at Extreme SEAL Experience. Hes one of those people thats hard to gauge at first and then you begin to understand him and what a hell of a guy he really is the more time you spend around him. We all went and tried our boots on and got all of our gear for the next day.

We had a little off time to hang out after that and Diane was cooking up some chicken on the grill. Anybody whos not a fag will come hold some of these treys while I put the chicken in em. She said. Two guys closest were quick to help out and all the other guys just laughed. Isnt she the greatest man? One of the camera guys leant over and said to me while we both chuckled. It was obvious that we were all about to join a very strong and distinct family this coming week. While we all hung out on the porch, Mack came over and sat down and was talking with all of us. Apparently, he had studied Zen from a Zen master and described to us that the first key to mastery was following directions. He talked about his time at BUD/S, his time as a sniper, and his philosophy on a lot of things. He went from dead serious to laid back and funny in an interesting way throughout the conversation and throughout the camp experience itself. Mack was very intense when he was teaching a lesson; just as much as he was extremely polite and engaging when in a regular conversation.

Dianes food was delicious and I made sure to fill up. As I finished my meal I saw a girl walk into the cabin who I recognized as Patsy Dietz, the widow of Danny Dietz, one of the SEALs killed in Operation Redwing. It had been roughly four years since Danny Dietz had died and she was now soon to be married to Don and Dianes son DJ, who was on deployment in Iraq while the camp was going on. We all lined up in chairs by the pond and Patsy came out to talk to us about Danny and whatever else we might want to know. She made it very clear to us that she was a strong person and wasnt going to be offended by any personal questions and the like. I know you guys are kind of quiet now and your probably getting ready for whats coming tomorrow and when I come back for the graduation you guys will have a lot more to say but feel free to ask any questions you want. Someone asked her about how she met Danny and she described how her father was a Navy SEAL and she thought of him as such a great man but that he tried to keep her away from dating young SEALs. She told us how she met Danny at a barbeque while her father was away and how her father and the older SEALs would always be weary of Dannys intentions and so on. When things got quiet shed usually say something like, Im a strong girl so dont worry about hurting my feelings or anything like that. Thats when someone asked what she missed most about Danny and if I had some liquid in my mouth I might have spit it all out just then. Im not sure why he wanted to know. Even she started with a little Wow and kind brushed her hair out of her face but she took the very heavy question in a strong manner just like she said she would and told us about how just not having him around anymore was the main thing and she explained what her grieving process was like and even how DJ helped her to this day in dealing with her grief. She had obviously made peace with her past traumas though and was an example to all of us in strength and perseverance. I cant remember what she said next word for word but she said something along the lines of, Tomorrow you guys are going to be tested and youre going to have to dig deep and pull together as a team and if you think you might want to quit, just remember our soldiers overseas who never quit on you. Your motivation tends to come in waves when youre coming up on a challenge thats new to you and I can still remember the intense impact of that statement and how much it helped to keep my head in the game and not to loose sight of what needed to be done, later on. Everything sits on a big pedestal before you get to the camp whether you think youre the man or not and when you see the greatest of challenges (actual SEAL team), next to your immediate challenge at Extreme SEAL, things are put back into perspective.

After that it was time to learn some things about making fires and such. Don lined us up from youngest to oldest and explained that the small gun he had in his hand was put under fighter pilots seats and ejected with them when they left their aircraft through the ejection seat. It had two holes in the barrel, one for small shotgun shells and another for a .22 caliber bullet. He explained that once a pilot landed, he could use the gun to shoot a Gook or a dear, whatever. He smiled just a little after he said it. The group was pretty quiet the whole evening and it was obvious that we were in a sort of mental preparation mode. Don continued to make little jokes that would usually end with come on, work with me guys or something like that. He let the youngest and oldest guys in the group shoot the gun at a paper plate. One shot the shotgun shell and the other shot the .22. After that, Don showed us how to start a fire with flint and different guys would come up and try and shoot the sparks at a cotton ball or something and make it catch fire. We were put into groups of two and told to make a fire, keep it burning, and carry it about 50 yards to where they had an area for bonfires. I was partnered up with a guy from the Ukraine named Bill Radzevych. Hed soon get the nickname Ivan, as most of the instructors took his accent for Russian, and it stuck. Ivan was a patient, easy-going guy and had some experience in wilderness training. We decided to use a good sized log as our platform for the fire and ended up getting a few fires started but it had rained hard for a week in Virginia prior to that day and it proved difficult to keep anything lit. Ben was walking around helping the guys to find the drier things in the woods to burn and so on. After many failures, it was time to give up and go help the rest of the guys with the actual bonfire. Building friendships through a common struggle would be a theme throughout the camp and Ivan and I had some good laughs over our small victories and ultimate failure with the exercise.

The bonfire was enjoyable and everyone was noticeably more relaxed by that point. We eventually all returned to the cabin and everyone had their own ideas about what would go down during Hell Night. Doug had been through one and made sure we knew that we going to get beat down. There was another guy named Nick there who had also been to the course before and had some stories for us. Everyone was pumped and it goes without saying that nobody slept too great that night.

We all woke up at seven oclock the next morning. Doug was sure to get everyone out of bed and we all dawned our white t-shirts with our last names on them, bathing suit shorts, and our boots. Don had explained the night before that it was better to go commando during Hell Night, which meant not to wear underwear. He would know, I guess. We ate breakfast and headed out past the Extreme SEAL Experience banner to a large grassy opening, where Doug led us in some stretching. Some of the instructors could be seen a little ways off but we all focused on our stretches and there were plenty of jokes going around. As we came to the end of our stretching, the instructors started heading over, each one in cammo. Boat crews one, two, and three sat on their boats facing Don. He wore desert colored cammies and boots and a bandanna-like cloth around his neck. All the SEAL instructors stood over to the side, awaiting their turn to introduce themselves. The instructors came up one by one and I cant remember in what exact order. There was instructor Chris who was on active duty and had just returned from Iraq. He was a sniper and a corpsman. He wore a special type of desert cammo top that had small shoulder pads on it and he looked something like a GI Joe, standing there in front of the class.

Instructor Fuch, whos real name I probably couldnt spell, was a retired SEAL and before that an EOD. He told us a little bit about his time in SEAL team and ended with, You guys better put out.

Ben introduced himself next. He had been a SEAL tracker and pointman for about eight years. Everyone was brief with their introductions and the real meeting between us and the SEAL instructors was certainly to be the twenty-four hours following the pre-breakout talk.

Mack made his introduction short which was appropriate considering every one there knew about him from his TV show. After that Don Shipley came to the center.

Don explained a little bit about himself. He told us how he grew up on a farm and that his father had taught him never to say I cant or I quit. He joined the Navy and was in it for a while before he went to BUD/S. He explained that he was one the most physically dominant guys in his BUD/S class and there was no bragging about it, it was true. He even explained some of his own fears that he had to conquer in becoming a SEAL. He told us about doing underwater operations at BUD/S and the term whos first? that the instructors used for these operations and the fear that he initially associated with those words. Throughout his talk it became more and more clear that Don and all of the instructors were not just men with incredible will power and strength but that they had had to overcome many obstacles and even fears to become the men they were. Its easy to think that theyre super human at first when youre around them but they probably started out, at some point, as motivated, badass guys who initially didnt fully know what they were getting themselves into, as if anyone really could when it comes to SEAL Team. He made it very clear that during Hell Night, he didnt want anyone to say they cant or that they quit. If you got a problem then you say Don, I got a problem. But I dont want to hear anyone say I cant. Don also gave us a heads up on another instructor that would be showing up that day. He told us about Dillon who was a twelve year old kid who was battling cancer. His life dream was to be a Navy SEAL and he comes down to Dons camp as an instructor and loves it.

That was it. Hell night breakout started with us all running back to our cabins to grab our trousers, fins, and hats and each grabbing rubber shapes which looked like MP-5 guns. We got all of our logs into instructors Fuchs truck without making a scratch and packed into Dons bus with our gear. We arrived at an area surrounded by woods and there were two lakes and plenty of berms and dirt roads. The morning would begin with a five-hundred meter swim which was the first step in the official SEAL physical screening test. As we all took off our shirts, Instructor Ben noticed that one of the guys had his nipples pierced and he was joking all about it right away through his bullhorn. Another guy had a belt with little skulls patterned through it. Is that a studded belt!? Instructor Ben asked. Instructor Chris showed us the proper form for a sidestroke before the swim and cautioned us to make sure we swam in straight line before we were herded into the water. Bust em was the term used to start off any exercise during Hell Night and we began our swim. Instructor Fuch was standing at the shoreline at the half way point and I reached him in fourth place when he told me to turn around. I was impressed with myself because I hadnt swim very much prior to the camp and I figured I was in better shape then I might have even given myself credit. I continued on, breathing heavily and ended with a time of 13 minutes and about 40 seconds. Whos breathing like an old man? Instructor Bens voice came through the bullhorn as I rose from the water. I would have laughed but I was exhausted from the swim. The faster swimmers had a good break while the others finished and one man in particular had fallen really far behind. Instructor Chris had gotten into the water and was swimming next to him and helping him with technique and the group all went to the waters edge to cheer him on. We were all pumped and were having a great time cheering on our team mate. He finished the swim in 24 minutes and I can remember Senior Chief Shipley commenting on it. Guy swam for 24 minutes continuously man hes a badass!

Next was the push-ups portion of the test and once again Instructor Chris showed the proper from for the exercise. We were partnered up and one guy would put his fist on the ground under his buddys chest and the person would have to come down all the way to touch his buddys fist with each push-up, keeping his back straight at all times. In the real test, you could rest in the push-up position for only two seconds before you had to continue to do push-ups but we were given some leeway on that. I did over sixty and was pretty happy with it but guys were doing as much as 80 to 120 or so. Then to sit-ups. We were instructed to never move our hands from our shoulders and to make sure to put our elbows over our knees each time coming up. I was beginning to really struggle when I got around sixty and Instructor Fuch was right there to motivate me. I had stopped coming all the way up and Fuch would push me up every time I got half way. He continued to do it for about 12 more sit-ups and I was feeling it after that. I was becoming less and less impressed with myself and not having prepared more physically before coming to the camp was a big mistake. Mack was explaining to us at one point that you had to push yourself so hard in BUD/S mentally that to have your physical body to a certain standard before you had to really engage your mind was very important. Next on the list were pull-ups. We all gathered around a bar was placed in between some trees and the sandy berm we stood on dipped down underneath the bar. Instructor Chris showed us the various types of pull-ups people do that arent correct and then showed us how to do them correctly. We all stood there in the hot sun as one person at a time would get up on the bar and do as many pull-ups as he could. I decided to get mine out of the way early and got out nine. When I finished I was feeling kind of weird and I tried to ignore it but I was fading into the back of the group. I wasnt clapping as hard and I wasnt cheering as loud as I watched the other guys do their pull-ups. Bens jokes through the bullhorn were just background noise. The nipple rings are weighing him down. Okay let see what studded belt can do. I couldnt laugh I could only chuckle. We lined up after a little break to start our mile and a half run. I was getting my energy back but the last time I even ran a mile was in high school gym class and I just figured Id be fine. Not even half way through the mile and a half, I was slipping to the rear of the pack and the feeling had come back again. Finally I slowed to a sloppy jog and puked my breakfast out on to the dirt in front of me. I stopped and then began again and puked a couple more times until it was all out. I felt better now and began to try and run but I was way behind along with a couple other guys who had puked as well. When I hit instructor Fuch at the half point I was the last man and was obviously struggling. He said to me, Alright were not gonna stop running. Were gonna end this thing strong. Just keep your arms loose at your sides and pick those knees up. SHIT I could only think of my own pain. The last stretch of the run was on a partially submerged road next to the lake and my boots soaked up as I ran through it, Instructor Fuch by my side continuing to keep me from stopping and even putting his hand on my back, keeping me moving forward. I was muttering curse words and huffing and puffing like I had asthma but the truth is I was just feeling sorry for myself. Finally reaching the end, I can remember thinking well damn I made it. I was immediately embarrassed at my sloppy performance and after a small pause I was told to return to my team, which I seemed to have forgotten was the idea. In a retarded-looking, exhausted sprint I made it to the lake where my team waited, shoulder deep in the lake and leaped into the water. I was in it now, there was no looking back. The cool water was refreshing and I caught my breath. We were ordered out of the water and were told to get muddy. The person with the worst cammie is not gonna like what happens next! Senior Chief said. We all rubbed hand-fulls of mud on ourselves and each other, making sure no place was left clean. Next we formed a line facing the lake and counted off. The numbers would go in a line across the men and back to the other side, in an organized rhythmic fashion. There were nineteen of us and each man was to say his number immediately after hearing the mans number next to him. On the very first try, someone said their number out of order and we all dropped into push-up position. Doug would yell Down and the group would yell back one, down two, down three, and so on. When we were given permission to get back to our feet, we would try again to count off. After a couple more times of dropping down, I was beginning to struggle again and I could hear Dons voice, Keep that back straight over there Van Unkin. Not more than a couple push-ups later, Instructor Fuch bent down next to me. Youre having a bit of a motivation problem. Why dont you go bear crawl over to Instructor Ben. Hes going to help you out. Instructor Fuch had taken a special interest in my development that day.

There had been a small Goon Squad building up on the dirt road and I made my way over and from my bear crawl position, told Instructor Ben that Instructor Fuch had sent me to him. We would do an exhausting exercise known as an eight-count body builder and a couple other exercises. Then we would bear crawl towards Ben as he walked backwards speaking through his megaphone. I had been having trouble keeping the pants I picked out at gear issue around my waist more and I kept having to pull them back up. Hey plumber crack pull your pants up! Instructor Ben said through the bullhorn. You know what, why dont you spackle that crack with some mud! I grabbed a big handful of mud and did what I was told. For the next couple of hours I was in and out of the goon squad and getting hammered the whole time. Every time my pants would ride down I would hear Instructor Bens voice through the bullhorn spackle that crack! It was a collection of flutter kicks, push-ups, eight-count body builders, bear crawls, and more and the fact that I kept ending up in the goon squad wasnt giving me much time to recover. At some point during the big mess, our fifth instructor arrived. Don introduced Dillon after he had walked around and watched us do our thing for a little while. He had his boots and cammo trousers on, with his shirt tucked in. He told us about how he had wanted to be a SEAL and had started training for two years when he got sick. The doctors finally told him that he had leukemia. How hard do you think what these guys are doing is compared to what youve had to go through? Don asked him. This is nothing. Dillon said and went on to explain a little bit more about his experience. No one could doubt that whatsoever and it was quickly apparent that Dillon was strong young man with heart! A short while after meeting Instructor Dillon I had ended up in the goon squad once again, this time with instructor Chris. After some exercises we were told to get muddy again. We were told that Dillon was going to pick out the person with the worst cammo and the best cammo. We all put extra mud on for this one and I can remember having trouble opening my eyes when we were instructed to stop. Dillon pointed towards someone else for the person with the worst cammo and I was relieved. Although I hadnt been picked for the best cammo, it was a small victory to avoid extra punishment.

Don told the group that next he was going to hand us over to one of the most highly decorated SEAL snipers there are for a lesson in cover and concealment. Instructor Mack started off with telling us a little bit about the difference between cover and concealment. Point being, that cover could actually shield you from fire and concealment could only conceal you. He asked for a volunteer and one of the guys quickly moved forward, hand raised, just as wed been taught by Mack last night. He told the guy to lay down behind some cover and just sneak along. The volunteer slowly crawled along some high grass until Instructor Mack said, Good thats enough. He pointed down to the guy. What he just did there. He was sprinting! That took a moment to set in. I forget the name he used but he told us that it had once taken a sniper five hours to take a sip of water. My God I thought to myself. We moved over to another place in the area and Instructor Mack explained that to conceal yourself, you had to know what type of vegetation was in that area and you had choose the right vegetation to use for your gillie suit, or in our case to put in our collars and hats and chest pockets. After we all tried our hand at choosing good vegetation decorating ourselves with it we learned about how you were to move when you crept around. Instructor Mack would continue make sure we had the three ideas of knowing the areas vegetation, using correct vegetation, and moving in a way that didnt give away your position firmly planted in our heads. I couldnt help but think about our night operation and it seemed as though it was a ways off. Eventually we were sent back into the water and told to clean the mud off of ourselves and Diane showed up with hot dogs for our first meal break. I holed up in a shady area with a bag of chips and some water. It was 94 degrees and humid and I felt drained. For some reason, I could barely make it through a bag of chips, I just wasnt hungry. I laid in the shade going over everything that had happened so far and dozing off for a little nap.

After our lunch break, we all sat by our gear and listened to Senior Chief tell us about what was coming next. He told us we were going to do hand to hand combat training and told us a little bit about his own experience with fighting. Fight or flight was the idea and Senior Chief described to us his own mentality towards fighting. He told us about John Waynes character in one of his cowboy movies saying he wasnt the fastest shot or the most accurate but he would engage any man. And thats kind of how I was. I would engage you. One of the guys asked him how many fights hed been in and he said hed been in about 300 easy. I was a brawler man. If you want to train to be a better fighter, you couldnt ask for better help than Instructor Mack, Instructor Chris, and Senior Chief Shipley.

The group was split in two and while the other group did hand to hand combat, my group went over to Instructors Fuch and Ben for Over the Beach (OTB) operation training. We brought our rubber shapes and our swim fins. The instructors put us in a single file line and each man was told his area of fire. The man at the front of the line was the pointman and behind him was the patrol leader. The pointmans area of fire was 180 degrees in the front of the line, the man at the rear was to watch 180 degrees behind us, and each man in betweens areas of fire were staggered left and right. We learned how to operate using some basic hand signals and the idea throughout the exercise was to stay silent as possible, a discipline that would serve the group well come night time. We all swam out in to the lake with our fins on and tread water while our pointman and patrol leader slowly swam ashore. They would take off their fins in about chest high water, put them on their arm and once ashore, would perform a diamond recon of the area. When hey saw fit, the team would be signaled and wed swim ashore and the patrol leader would send teams of two to position themselves and recon in certain areas.

With that out of the way, it was time for the groups to switch and we all headed over to Mack and Chris. Instructor Mack had a philosophy about fighting that in typical Mack fashion was not only intense but he stripped fighting down into a science and every person involved walked away a better fighter. There are three dynamic elements to combat: Movement, weapons, and targets. Which one do you think is most important? We all mumbled different answers, not sure exactly what would be the right answer. After that, Instructor Mack grabbed a volunteer and after explaining that whatever the volunteer was going to do he was going to do it slowly, he grabbed the volunteers wrist and said, Do something, anything that would take out my eyes. A pair of fingers slowly came towards his eyes. Did I tell him what weapon to use? Did I tell him how to move? After a couple more examples, we were getting the idea. So whats most important, weapons, targets, or movement? Targets we said back. Targets dictate weapons and weapons dictate movement. Fighting had suddenly become about intentions and commitment to engaging a target. Mack explained that our goal was to bring chaos to the target. It was clear that this wasnt just a philosophy about fighting but a philosophy for a warrior! As if we hadnt been inspired enough, at the end our training session, Mack explained to us a little bit about his philosophy about quiting when he went to BUD/S. He told us that one of his friends whod gone through BUD/S told him before he went that a man could only be defeated in two ways, he could give up or he could die. He explained that his mantra in BUD/S was Not dead Cant quit. Mack yelled NOT DEAD! and the class yelled back CANT QUIT! NOT DEAD CANT QUIT NOT DEAD CANT QUIT Talk about adrenaline!

The entire group was brought back together and another beating was about to ensue. Log PT was led by Instructor Chris. For lack of a better word, Chris was a scary dude during Hell Night. His voice would come through the bullhorn calm and collected in almost a mocking sort of tone when compared to the ass kicking he was giving us. He never really raised his voice, just that same steady tone. We all got muddy again of course before beginning and then it was on. We lifted the logs over our heads, raced each other carrying the logs, did squats with the logs, and so on for a good hour, hour and a half or so. It pays to be a winner played a significant role during log pt and I think it was the beginning of log pt when I finally began to switch on.

After dinner, a lesson on camoflauge with Dillon being our example, and a briefing from Senior Chief and the three boat crew leaders, our night op was put into action. Two basic rules: assault the target before midnight and take Mack alive. You can imagine a collective and what was that last one? from the group of guys once we heard that! We all grabbed our boats and headed out onto the main road towards the lake that we would paddle to the target. Senior Chief had told we werent to be seen by any cars and wed all pull over to the side of the road any time a car was coming and crouch down by our boats. It was a mile paddle to the target through all kinds of fallen and overhanging trees and occasionally, a branch smack any boat crew members who didnt crouch down while they paddled. All along the trip, Doug would radio code words to Senior Chief letting him know our current positions. Once we had reached the target and we holed up in the shadows at the other side of the lake, two swimmers went out to scope out the area, see if there were any patrols walking around, and pick a spot for the team to insert. When we all saw the signal, flashing red light, we hopped in the now cold water and swam towards our insertion point. We all met up on the side of a building a small ways from where the instructors/ pirates were hanging out and the boat crew leaders began dividing up small teams to go to different spots around the X. I ended following Doug and a few other guys back into the water and finally up onto land where we found some cover closer to the pirates and talked things out a little. What time is it Doug? I asked and he responded that it was 11:55. It was Doug, Nick, John, and me and we agreed that we would just run out there on three. One Two Three! Shortly after we had began running we came in sight of the group and starting yelling at the top our lungs, GET THE FUCK DOWN! GET THE FUCK DOWN! BANG, BANG, BANG!! It was obvious that we had surprised them and even the camera man was scrambling to find his camera. We surrounded Mack and I directly facing him. All in one second, I was thinking, Oh shit its Mack and then Alright Im just gonna go for it we outnumber him we can get him when all the sudden Nick pounced on him from an area he obviously hadnt been looking and we all immediately joined in! I had my left knee on his lower back and was pulling his right arm behind his back while John was holding his legs and Nick had his other arm. Get on your feet sir! Nick yelled and we walked him over to where Senior Chief told us. The night op was a success and Mack and other instructors complimented us on the operation. Senior Chief even said that we were the first group to ever attack from that direction! Mack and Fuch described certain aspects of doing ops and described to us a little about peoples reactions to things, like whether they just heard something or youre caught and they actually see you. They did give us some constructive criticism however, telling us that we had about 50 more feet before we needed to start yelling and that Get on your feet sir! shouldve been more like, On your feet now motherfucker!! Over all, the instructors thought we did a great job and that was thanks mostly to Dougs leadership and Nicks tackle that inspired us other guys to take down Mack! Having succeeded with the night op, the next portion of the night would begin!

We all stood by our boats and listened as Senior Chief explained that we were going to be purged with pain! Push-ups had turned into boat push-ups with our feet on the boats, the instructors sprayed us with cold water with a hose, the goon squad had transformed into Fuchs Caf where instructor Fuch sat behind a small desk dishing out punishment from a menu of different exercises, and boat races and lifting and holding the boats had become a part of the fun! At one point in the night, we did a race in which boat crews were instructed to paddle out, dump their boat, and get back in and paddle back. After many tries, our boat crew figured out the trick to flipping our boat back over and paddled in ahead of the pack. We were allowed to sit nut to butt in a line and get warm as we watched the other boat crews struggle to turn over their boats and laugh as instructor Dillon would yell things like, Its just water you pussies, hurry up! through his bullhorn. We must have sat there for ten minutes before the other boat crews finally made it back. Every once in a while, Instructor Fuch would walk by and say, Pays to be a winner doesnt it fellas? HOOYAH wed say back. As punishment for losing, the other two boat crews boats were tied together with a long rope and the were forced to perform a boat tug of war that lasted the longest any one ever had, according to Senior Chief and it was best two out of three on top of that! The loser of the exercise was given SPECIAL attention after that and our boat crew was immediately back into things with the other boat crew when they got back. By now, we all understood the game, put out and you win a break of some kind, dont and youll be thrown into a group where you once again have to put out in order to make it back with the group and until you can put out and win your way out of punishment, its going to keep coming! Freshly soaked from Dillon coming by with the hose, Instructor Chris called both boat crews over to him and told us to spread out. Once again we listened to his calm instructions come through the bullhorn, On your feet, on your backs, on your bellies, push-ups, flutter kicks, six-inches, on your feet, on your backs, on your bellies Instructors Fuch and Ben and Mack had begun walking around getting on everyone who wasnt doing the exercises right. Fuchs Caf is empty fellas! Were gonna need some new customers! It always seemed as though the very moment I wasnt sure if I could stay in a push-up position or do more flutter kicks, I would hold out just a little longer and it would be on to the next thing. I had learned a lot from my failures early in the day and I luckily escaped Fuchs Caf that night!

There was on special evolution during Hell Night called the Talent Show. Each man had to come up out of the water and sing or tell a joke or show some sort of talent. I decided Id do a Christopher walken impression and it went over pretty well with the instructor staff. Unlike many others, I was spared from being hosed directly after my performance. Another memorable talent was Elliots impression of Kipp from Napoleon Dynamite. It was a wacky evolution but it was definitely funny watching everybody doing ridiculous dances and so on.

Later in the night and after much more abuse, we played a game in which two guys would be paired up and would have to spin clockwise around a boat paddle 15 times and race about twenty yards. The winners were put into one group and the losers, which I belonged to by the end of the exercise, were put into another. Our punishment was twenty good push-ups and they might have been the best push-ups the group did the whole night. Next we were back by our boats and Senior Chief explained our next exercise. We would have to make it back to where we initially inserted our boats in 23 minutes or we would have to suffer through another log pt. I can remember thinking we could probably make the time he wanted but if not I could do another log pt before the whole thing was over. Senior Chief was right about us being purged. I imagine everyone else in the group felt the same way. We had all become savvy to how the game was played and more importantly, we had become a team and at that point, didnt necessarily give a shit what came next. It was decided that boat crew 1, Dougs boat crew, would be the first in the water because they had won the most boat races during the night. We all paddled our way back to the spot where we had inserted for our operation, hours earlier. Shawn and I talked about breakfast as we paddled at the front of our boat. When we arrived, close behind, Senior Chief informed us that Dougs boat crew had made the time and we all hurried, walking our boats back across the road and in to Senior Chiefs yard. We all lined up and the instructors stood in front of us. Each instructor said a little something to the group. I can remember what Ben said well. You guys are men for coming out here. Right now guys are stumbling out of bars, drunk. They think theyre cool and they think theyre men but you guys are out here testing yourselves and youre men. The instructors went down the line and shook each mans hand and Hell Night was secured. We had only one more task before we would get some sleep and that was our Hell Night graduation ritual. We all got on the bus after some breakfast and headed back to the lake where Hell Night began. Everyone was split into swim buddies as the helicopter landed, blowing dust all over the place. When it came our turn, Dean and I hoped into the helo and we took off. The pilot flew all over the place, making last minute turns around trees and dipping up and down. As we came back to the lake, we were told to get ready and Dean and I stepped out onto the bar on either side of the helo as it flew slowly above the water. When the pilot signaled, we both stepped out, falling about ten feet and landing in the lake below. It was a great way to end Hell Night. Wet and exhausted, we all went back to the cabin for some rest.

Next evolution was going to be led by instructor Ben. He was an expert tracker in the teams and was taking us back to the lake to show us some basics. Aside from a small setback in which our bus gave out at a red light and an angry Senior Chief was forced to quickly find us a new mode of transportation. Once we finally made it, Ben started to talk to us about the different terrains that tracks can be found in, different actions signified by distinctions in the tracks themselves and some information from his own experiences tracking while overseas! He nonchalantly talked about being able to tell a higher up exactly what another SEAL had done during an over the beach operation in training, subsequent to the training op. When the SEAL asked him what he could tell him about the operation, he described the man kneeling down, turning to look behind him, putting his fingers in the ground to support himself and so on. Before he went on a deployment once, he bought a house and upon returning, noticed that his fence had been broken down. He called the man hed talk to about the house before leaving and described that a male over two-hundred pounds and a female had gone up to his gate. The female hopped over the fence first and when the male tried, he couldnt get over and broke the fence. Then they proceeded to walk through his backyard. Im sure the guy on the other end of the phone was probably thinking how in the world does he know that? Ben isnt the muscle-bound Hollywood body type SEAL. I think meeting him and learning from him taught a lot of us guys about humility. Ben doesnt smoke, drink, or curse and he doesnt ever look in any way for recognition from the guys. I can remember asking him one time, for whatever reason if he felt he got the respect he deserved in society? He said, I dont know about the respect I deserve, maybe just respect in general. This coming from someone who served his country for years in probably the most elite fighting force America has and has given up exponentially more for his country than most people. His expertise in tracking and survival are about subtle abilities like attention to detail and the ability to deal with harsh conditions and Mother Nature. Towards the end of our tracking crash course, Ben took us into the woods to find tracks there. He found one track and had us all crowd around him. It was covered by some leaves and things. He began tapping at the outline. Sometimes you can even use sounds in revealing tracks. He said. He kind of lightly hummed in concentration while he tapped along the track as it became much clearer to all of us. It seemed like his pitch correlated to ups and downs in the track, or at least thats my best guess at how it works. Needless to say, none of us could grasp this level of connection to the terrain but we were all extremely impressed by how he revealed a light track that was almost completely covered at first and was able to describe things like its age and so on. That night, Ben played his banjo and guitar for everybody while we sat around a big bonfire. Ben was singing Johnny Cash songs and having everybody join in. Everybody was obviously a lot closer after Hell Night and there was lots of laughter and relaxation. As hard as men like Senior Chief Shipley and Fuch and Chris and Mack and Ben are, I was always surprised by how approachable they were from the securing of Hell Night on. We all got to bed at a good hour that night, having been told about the new SEAL wed be meeting the next morning.

We all hopped off the bus and waited by the lake while Senior Chief talked to our new instructor out of ear shot. Master Chief Matto is one strong looking man and there was simply something rock hard about his presence as he introduced himself and said a little about the PT physical training we were about to do. Regular push-ups, tricep push-ups, dive-bomber push-ups, sit-ups, hands and toe sit-ups, flutter-kicks, back rollers etc. We were in Master Chiefs world now and he owned us! Its a good thing I had gone through Hell Night before meeting Master Chief Matto because I had atleast learned the new meaning of put out. Just like a day ago, I was building new definitions of what I could do. Master Chief Matto was force feeding us the idea that we win as a team and we lose as a team! He has a great ability to inspire people and without a doubt, every guy in our class wanted to put out for the Master Chief. Just like every other SEAL I had met so far, he commanded respect brought out the man in every guy in our class. We ended the PT drenched in sweat, doing eight-count body builders. The Master Chief informed us that we would be ramping it up tomorrow. I sat down on the bus as we left with swollen muscles, chaffage in areas I wont go into, the beginnings of blisters on my feet, and shoulders that still ached from log pt. The class as a whole was PUMPED and we were once again even closer than before.

The guys who were signed up for the full advanced course got together to learn about skydiving from some professional sky divers who showed up who are obviously friends with Senior Chief. Me and a couple other guys were signed up only for the platoon training and would be leaving before the jump and the shooting course. Senior Chief had another job for us and we went with Ben to recon and area that would be the stage for an attack later in the week. We made an arial drawing in the time we were given and added scales and lengths into the drawing back at the cabin. We rolled it up and played chess, watched some BUD/S footage and just hung around until the rest of the class was done with their lesson in skydiving.

After another one of Dianes awesome meals, it was time to issue us all airsoft M-4 rifles and safety glasses. After that, the class was split in two and we all lined up about 15 yards from each other. The contest was designed to find the most accurate shooter. Each side would shoot one shot at each other, taking turns. If you missed then you were out and the distant between us would grow with each hit. Shawn, my buddy from boat crew two during Hell Night, won the competition. Just so everyone got the feel for what getting hit by an Airsoft BB was like, everyone would take turns being shot by the whole group as they ran about 30 yards.

Our last evolution for the day was a long night patrol. We started off from Senior Chiefs backyard out into the woods. It was muddy, wet, and absolutely pitch black under the cover of the trees. We were on noise discipline and only used hand signals to switch positions, stop, or switch or patrol formation. I walked close behind Shawn who was in front of me, keeping my hand on his back just so I wouldnt loose him in the darkness. The signal passed back to rally up and we all made a circle around Ben and drank from our canteens for a few minutes. Elliot whispered in his Kip voice, Guys Im scared. And everyone laughed including Ben. As we began to march on, I said in my Christopher Walken voice, Guys, its too dark we gotta turn around! Everyone laughed again as we trudged along. At one point as I marched along, I thought I heard something to my left but kept walking. A second later I heard Ben whisper, Bang, Bang! I yelled CONTACT LEFT and the team echoed back CONTACT LEFT as we all went into position. Ben decided to teach us something new and would randomly sneak around the group and shoot at the man in the front or back and theyd yell CONTACT REAR and wed all yell back as the whole group quickly moved to either side of the rode and got into the prone position pointing our Airsoft guns in the contacts direction. When we started closing the distance between us and the cabin, Senior Chief, who was waiting for us, shot up red flares in the air to show his position. The night would go from complete darkness to florescent red, giving us a chance to look around before everyone once again disappeared. Upon arriving, Senior Chief and Ben told us a little about their experiences with patrolling and we all talked about how muddy it was and there were a few hilarious stories about people falling into deep puddles getting soaked to their wastes.

We stood in front of the Master Chief sore, in boots and pants still wet from the night before wondering how hard he was gonna ramp it up on us. It began with sprinting to bus wed come in and back and then push-ups and then sprinting and then push-ups. Just like last morning, we were quickly getting our asses kicked but we were motivated and pulled together as a team. Again and again and again we would sprint to the bus and back and then abs and legs and more push-ups until after going around the bus barely making Master Chiefs 30 second cutoff, we were told to get in the lake. Then everyone but Doug got out and got into push-up position. Master Chief decided to talk to us about taking care of our leader while we listened with burning arm muscles. Again we ran back to the bus and into the water. Master Chief told us that each man was going to tell him why they were here? As we went down the line, everyones response was something along the lines of wanting to challenge themselves and see if they had what it takes or because to confront their weaknesses or how they wanted to prepare for BUD/S. If it had been a movie it would have been cheesy but instead it was honest and genuine and everyone had proved to Master Chief himself a lot about what we could take as a group. As we got back on land, Master Chief talked about the teams and BUD/S and gave us a real taste of what being a SEAL is all about! He answered questions and even told us we should be proud that we had become a team.

Once we got back to the cabin, we were issued packs, extra clothes to keep us warm, knives, flashlights, UDT lifejackets, canteens, H-gear, rolled up hammocks, and MREs. We packed it all up and gathered around Senior Chief. We were going to learn about survival skills before we arrived at our survival area that night. Senior Chief told me to hold the metal cup and assigned two other guys to grab what was in the back of his truck. We heard the two say something like, the hell?

Bring it over here Senior Chief said.

It was a lamb that had been hog tied. Senior Chief quickly brought it away from the group and shot it in the back of the head with a small revolver. Bring that over here. He said to me quickly. He began to saw at the throat of the goat as I held the cup there collecting the blood spilling out. Once it was filled, Senior Chief explained that all around the world, goats were the most widely eaten animal and that there blood served to give people a lot of calories in survival situations. To that, we each took a sip of the warm goat blood and passed it along. Senior Chief asked if everyone was good and told a few guys puke in different courses when he does that. A lot the guys in our group were hunters and I guess we all figured if youve eaten meat you might as well have killed an animal, right? Senior Chief then taught us how to skin the animal and we cut the meat up into little pieces and ate it for dinner in a chili that Diane prepared. We put all our survival packs in zodiacs we put on a trailer behind Senior Chiefs truck.

Master Chief Mattos ability to inspire us as a team and Senior Chiefs survival lesson had a lasting affect as we all filled up our magazines and got all camoflauged up for the operation tonight. The idea was to insert early so that we could watch the OPFOR as they arrived and figure out our plan of attack from there. We ended up holed up in a woodsy area hanging out in total silence as some of our guys were working on surveillance of the area. We could eventually hear voices in the distant and everyone was ready. Theyd arrived and were being loud and hanging out by a big fire near where we had done our PT earlier that morning. In the middle our whispering conversations, we heard Airsoft guns going off and then Senior Chiefs voice, GET OUT HERE GUYS!! We all bolted out to the scene and began patrolling in a side by side file towards the bad guys. Our first target could only get off a couple shots before all twelve of us were looking down on him and unloading BBs until he yelled HIT, HIT! It was first time wed gotten to see our enemy and he was quite a sight! These guys took Airsoft SERIOUSLY!! He had on a balaclava, cammo, radio, and SAW Airsoft gun which apparently costs around a thousand dollars! We had flashlights attached to the end of our guns and every enemy we came upon was instantly spotlighted. We worked our way all around the area, taking out everyone we could and often being shot at from multiple locations but we stayed in our tight formation and eventually we had taken them all out. Just like we had been talking about all day, we had kicked ass. They were waiting for us by their fire and we all shook hands and talked about what went down and they said we were the best team theyd gone up against so far, which was cool. After a second match, the booger eaters as Senior Chief would say left and we marched to the lake where wed be putting out for the survival area with all our gear wed packed in, including a lor of guns. It was dark when we arrived and we were divided into three groups. According to Senior Chief, there are reputations that go along with each area. The area that never has anything bad happen to them is the Dream Team, the one that only sometimes has bad things happen to it is the Soup Group, and the infamous group that always has something bad happen to it is the Leper Colony in another area. My group was Adam, Elliot, and Nick A.K.A. Spanky. We had elected to sleep in the Leper Colony section, thinking wed break the trend and have a fun time doing it. I dont think I stopped talking in my Christopher Walken voice from the point of landing on and Elliot was always doing his Kipp voice. It was customary that whenever we would approach another section of the survival area we would cover our faces and say, unclean, unclean. It was always hilarious. Being a tired and sore group, comedy was a big part of our success in dealing with the daily grind. Anyways, we set up our hammocks and tried to go to sleep.

I think I got one hour total and most of the guys were the same. We all huddled around the fire and made jokes and talked about how shitty we all slept. The jobs of the day were to build shelters, learn to procure and purify water through boiling it, and of course, try to find food. We started off by eating our MREs and having some coffee. After going out on the zodiac with Senior Chief and setting up hooks with worms on them, dangling from tree limbs to catch fish, we worked on our shelters. There was still a good remnant of a shelter left from the last class and we decided to simply improve it. Everyone had pretty good shelters and we were led to a muddy lake area where Ben and Senior Chief showed us how to dig up cattail roots. One of our guys Kevin, who was sixteen, single-handedly, caught a Red Bellied Black Snake which he clubbed. We returned to our shelter with cattail roots which we put over the fire and tried to munch down quickly (they didnt taste too great!). We would periodically take trips on the zodiac to see if we had caught any fish and by the time it was getting later we had two big fish, a snake, and of course plenty cattail. Representing the new Leper Colony, Elliot grabbed our biggest fish of the day and we were all stoked to see him comeback with it. We ate well and then it was time to plan our next mission in which wed be stealing chickens from the property wed reconed and made a drawing of for the rest of the class while they learned how to skydive. We would move out at 3 am and needed to get on target around 4am in order to do our raid without waking up the farmer. Everyone had their jobs and Shawn and I would be going in to grab the chickens.

After another muddy patrol, we arrived at our target on time. Once the group was close enough, Shawn and I ran towards the Chicken coup and started pulling out the loud animals and quickly silencing them and everything was going according to plan. All the sudden, high-beams from the farmers truck shined onto the chicken coup and the farmer was already shooting shot gun shells into the air. The operation quickly turned into a circus as one of the presumably silenced chic

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