Extreme SEAL Experience Blog
SEAL Blog. A Turd in BUD/S.Thursday April 03rd 2008 - 11:54 AM EST
Uncle Ray was my favorite BUD/S instructor. He was also the most feared in my class. Chief Ray could dole out punishment like few others to make his point but he was also a born comedian. If I think back to the funniest thing I ever saw or heard, Ray had done or said them.
Ray liked me after I proved I was there for the long haul, but he let his affection for me show in strange ways.
NOBODY in first phase passes uniform inspection, nobody and Ray would give them. They were conducted Monday mornings and you had the weekend to prepare. Starching hats, spit shining boots, all of it in a desperate attempt not to fail as punishment was a trip to the surf zone and sand berm runs and the hard work was ruined.
Our numbers had shrunk after Hell Week and I was the class leading petty officer. First phase was ending and Ray shows up for our final phase inspection.
Ray begins moving through the ranks picking guys apart for infractions and a steady stream of failures were heading for the surf zone.
I busted my ass, I was perfect, all those inspections in the past came into play and I meant to set the example no one else had been able to. I meant to pass, this was my day.
I can hear him approaching from a couple guys away, ‘’LINT ON YOUR COLLAR, HIT THE F****N SURF." "SALT ON YOUR BOOTS, HIT THE F*****N SURF," "UNBUTTONED POCKET, HIT THE F*****N SURF." Nobody was getting through, but they never did.
Ray gets in front of me and goes head to toe very slowly. Keep looking Ray, I was thinking, there’s nothing there.
He goes behind me and does the head to toe. Keep looking Ray, there’s nothing there I’m thinking.
He comes back to my front and does another head to toe and I knew I had him. Perhaps I was his first ever and I could hardly contain my excitement as I thought how good this is going to feel being the only one dry in the class.
He moves to the next man and fails him and the next and the next. I was the only man still in ranks that was dry as wet sandy bodies surrounded me and Ray begins to leave. I was BEAMING. It’s strange in BUD/S that the very small successes you have become so uplifting, ones that make you feel like you’ve really done something great in such a tough school.
Our phase proctor began giving us the days routine briefing and I was hearing little of it being so distracted with my accomplishment when out of the corner of my eye I see Ray coming back.
He’s heading right for me. He stops, he turns to face me and says "SHIPLEY, UNSIGHTLY NOSE HAIRS, HIT THE F****N SURF."
Ray’s classes were a treat, like going to the Improv or other comedy club. Side-splitting laughter from start to finish and he taught a great class, very clear and concise as we all hung on his every word.
Ray liked to use the overhead view when briefing an evolution. He’d draw the evolution from a downward view and would always start out saying "Imagine you’re a sticky booger hanging from the ceiling, this is what you’d see below you." Ray briefs the underwater knot tying evolution in the tower and neither Ray nor the class knew at the time, but today’s evolution was going to get ugly, fast . . .
The tower was 50 deep. The water temperature was very warm and the water was clear. They’d turn out the lights at the top of the tower and you’d watch the guys below in the brightly lit tank, kind of cool. You’d get in the tower tank and begin treading water, no touching the sides, and when you were ready you’d give the thumbs up to your instructor and dive down 15 feet and tie a specified type of knot, five of them, on a line stretched across the tower.
This was breath holding at its best for those who sucked at knots, and just a shitty time for most as you’d look at the instructor for a thumbs up and he’d see you needing air badly and would take his sweet time giving the thumbs up after tying your knot and many guys failed.
Nothing is fair in BUD/S.
While I was no breath holding champion, I was great at knots and finished quickly. I was hanging out a short while later when Ray surfaced like a maniac screaming "WHICH MOTHER F*****G ONE OF YOU SHIT IN THE MOTHER F******G TOWER."
Our hearts sank. This was no joke, not a bit funny at the time, and it was going to be a long day.
If you’ve ever held your breath for a long time you start making guttural gulping noises needing air and shaking around almost convulsing, so you can understand how it could happen but one of the guys lost control and gave birth to a Marine in the tower.
Nobody knew who did it, and nobody ever confessed either, but Ray saw the sinking shit and ordered one of the guys to swim down and get it. We could see it clearly on the painted blue background of the tower and it was a monster, a really big piece of shit, and spiraling slowly downward like a leaf falling from a tree.
As the swimmer approached the poop, he hesitated as if wondering how best to bring it up, but low on air and at 30 feet, he decided to manhandle the mess and placed one hand on the bottom of it and held the center like a can of beer and began his assent. Bad plan, as it began to dissolve and break apart and he reached the surface empty handed as it dissipated into tiny shit particles and had a new home in the tower forever.
The cadre freaked, and they got much worse as reality set in over a short amount of time.
With many guys who had not completed the evolution yet, it continued, and all the instructors were back in the shit water and pissed. All three phases used the tower, and the Teams for different types of training and word spread quickly that someone from Class 131 had shit in the tower and we were beaten daily for it and by instructors from all the phases.
It was the worst experience any of us had in BUD/S, but the most memorable and damn funny now...