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Spiders, Snakes, and Sharks.

Sunday September 07th 2008 - 12:31 AM EST
Added by: Don Shipley



I’ve had three different guys over the past couple days express concerns and fears over spiders, snakes and sharks. No SEAL likes any of them either, but we don’t give them much thought. There is too much to do on a mission, too much to think about, to give much more than a fleeting thought to being bitten or attacked by one.

We all have a few stories though.

For Team PT one day we all did a hydro recon of a beach in San Diego. It was an administrative daylight one, where we’d all line up parallel to the beach and swim in, taking soundings every 25 meters. The guy running the recon was in the middle of the long line of swimmers, and when time came to drop our lead weights and measure the distance to the bottom, (soundings) he’d wave his arm back and forth and yell, “MARK.”

The word “MARK” was yelled by each man up and down the line, and we’d measure and record the depth to the bottom.

It wasn’t easy to stay on line during the recons with waves breaking and currents raging, so we’d pay very close attention to the line, working hard to keep it straight. I passed another “MARK” as it was yelled to me and I watched the line begin to break into a curvy mess, as I dropped my weight and wondered what the problem was.

Turns out, it wasn’t MARK being yelled, it was SHARK, and the guys scattered quickly…

I hauled ass to…

We locked out of a Sub in Hawaii one night. The target was close to shore and the “Hump” in would be short. It was decided we’d just wear our wetsuits for the mission since it would be a quick one.

Hours later, my body lost the last bit of moisture it held, by sweating it all into the wetsuit.

We’d missed the target somehow and were patrolling around the rugged jungle in a suit of rubber, carrying weapons, demolitions, and no water. We call that being in the “Hurt Locker.” 

Worst of all, were the spiders. Ooooo they were monsters, and hung at face level on the dark trails. The size of a human hand, they felt like a crazed squirrel on your face when you ran into one. There were so many, and they were so creepy, that we began to switch out point men every half hour so everyone could share the torment.

Misery loves company…

Snakes are often encountered, but very little thought is given to them either. Very little thought unless it’s the Persian Gulf.  The Gulf is filled with them, sea snakes, deadly poisonous, and plentiful.

We were operating off a barge in the middle of the Gulf during the Iran/Iraq War. A couple SEAL buddies and me were hanging out one day when a MONSTER sea snake swam close to the barge. I grabbed a fishing net and scooped the creature up and flopped him on the deck of the barge. 

A crowd quickly gathered around the snake as it slithered around. I looked up and here comes the barge “Geek” with a broomstick in his hand.

This guy was a weird dude. He was assigned as a communicator on the barge and was a technician in a Special Forces Unit. While not a Green Beret, he was allowed to wear one being assigned to the unit. The temperatures in the Gulf were “Africa Hot” and would break a buck-twenty each day and humid.

The “Geek” would always wear a full uniform no matter what he was doing.  Bloused shiny boots, creased trousers and top, sleeves rolled to perfection, and his Green Beret was always smeared down the side of his goofy head.

What did we wear in the crushing heat?  Shorts and Teva’s; we were SEALs for shit sakes…

Anyhow, here comes the “Geek” and he has everyone’s attention as he marches to the crowd. As he arrives, he begins to lower the stick to the snake’s head in a classic move to pin the snake and then he’d pick it up and impress us all with his prowess.

Loudly he announces “I’ll show you how we do it in Special Forces.”

Quickly, I announced “I’ll show you how we do it in SEAL Team,” and I grabbed the snake by the tail and swung it in circles chasing everyone including the “Geek” before throwing it over the side.

The next morning our Captain very clearly informed the crew there would be no more snakes on HIS barge…

As the Captain was speaking, he never looked at anyone except me.

Kind of unrelated, but since I’m on the Special Forces guys… We were leaving the barge after being on it for a few months and we hadn’t had a drink, as alcohol on the barge was a no-no. We’d spend a day in Bahrain before flying home and a big, senior enlisted Special Forces guy came aboard the barge to give us a “Liberty Brief” telling us the do’s and don’ts of Bahrain.

Don’t go here, and don’t do this, his brief was endless and drug on for what seemed like an eternity. He preached “Not Drinking” in Bahrain as trouble followed those who do.

In his impeccable uniform, and smeared Green Beret on his big head, we could tell he was a man of experience on the subject matter he was preaching.

The big f**ker had two huge black eyes from a fight in town…



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