Extreme SEAL Experience Blog
Youre going to Liberia. Part 1.Wednesday March 05th 2008 - 9:25 PM EST
I had just come off a "Cruise" on the USS Ponce, a MARG or Mediterranean Amphibious Ready Group and was teaching a demolitions course a few hours from the Team as the SEAL Platoon’s showed up for training.
Putting the last minute touches on the course, a couple guys said they had a message from the Team that I was going to Liberia.
Ok, Dude... Shut up and give me a break this morning and I continued setting up.
A couple hours later the guy manning the radio said "Range Control just called and you’re going to Liberia, call the Team." I believed it this time but so unusual for information to be passed that way. I called our OPS Officer and he said "You’re going to Liberia get back here now."
Every couple of years the Liberians would get a nice load of drugs and liqueur and start shooting the American Embassy. Civilians would be evacuated by helo and they would be shot at. The solution was to blow a beach lane for Assault Craft to be able to land and safely extract civilians.
Oooo was I down for that.
We took a squad of SEALs, eight of us and led by an x-enlisted Officer and as good a man as they come. I’d be his Platoon Chief and during the deployment we’d be referred to as the "Dream Team" back at Little Creek as none of us had worked together before and we pulled off some amazing shit.
We loaded the USS Ponce and embarked a pile of Marines and helo’s. The Ponce had the same Captain from our deployment; he was a Bad Ass Skipper and he liked me. We were off to a good start.
Eleven days to sail there from Norfolk, the Marines and a SEAL Platoon already controlled the Embassy and had evacuated all civilians. We had a couple missions but the main one was to relieve they guys there and assume security.
The Marine Colonel in charge was a rare Marine Officer as most would rather punch a SEAL as look at him. This one was different and it mattered none to him who was helping the mission as long as they’d kick ass for him.
We got along great.
During a brief on the Flight Deck he assembled all the Marines and us and gave our "Rules of Engagement." Very simple and to the point he said " I’m not losing a single Sailor or Marine to a bunch of F-----G Savages. If you’re threatened, Engage."
I’ve heard a lot of rules of engagement but that was the most clear and concise. Very Simple...
A couple days out final planning was in place. The plan was for the Colonel to take most of the Marines and relieve the guys in the Embassy. A contingent of Marines would be left on the Ship to reinforce them if necessary.
In the Wardroom our Officer and I joined all the seniors for a final planning session. The Colonel asked a Major who was in charge of the reinforcements "How long will it take to get Marines to the Embassy if things go to shit and I need them?" Quickly the Major answered "180 minutes Sir."
You could have heard a pin drop.
"HOW THE F–K IS THAT MAJOR. WHY SO F-----G LONG?"
The Major explained that issuing radios, night vision, weapons and ammo would take that long once the order was given and they’d finally have to test fire their weapons and load the helo’s.
Matt and I began whispering to each other as the Colonel burned holes in the Major as only a Marine can do with a stare.
In the middle of this huge brief with all Senior heavy hitters attending, Matt stands up and loudly announces " I can have eight fully combat loaded SEALs off this Ship in 15 minutes."
You could have heard a pin drop!
How can you do that, the Colonel asked?
Matt replied that we were already fully loaded out. Our clothes and boots we’d go in with were hung on our bunks and just had to be put on. The first guy done would open our conex box which had our H-Gear with fully loaded magazines, grenades, night vision, everything and our weapons were with the H-Gear. The helos were pre-rigged with the ropes we’d need to insert and had been tested. All we had to do was dress, grab our gear and get on the helo’s.
15 minutes Sir!
You could have heard another pin drop until the Major put the final nail in his own coffin by saying "You left out a test fire and that’s going to take a lot of time."
Matt replied "We don’t need a test fire, our weapons work."
The Colonel said the final words of the briefing with "The SEALs will go in first."
We had one Sniper in our squad and we called him Wacko. Wacko approaches me and says he was talking with the Marine Snipers and they were short handed at the Embassy and could he work with them as a Sniper when we arrived. I asked how many they were short and he said he’d ask them.
I said "Tell them were all Snipers."
We were welcomed by the Marines with a little white lie. We had all had some Sniper Training so it wasn’t a crazy fabrication and the Marines would not have cared anyhow. We go in as pairs for a week each and help man the Marine Sniper Posts.
Every helo that took off had one of us on it for security and communications. If the helo went down we were heavily armed and could make a major stand waiting for help to arrive and protect the crew.
We were busy boy’s.
Dag was a character and a good friend. He was a charming guy and made friends with everyone. His idea of a good time was cooking for the whole crew on the Ponce as the cooks welcomed him in the galley and he’d serve lasagna for all. Dag was the only SEAL I ever knew that you could understand underwater and during dives he would carry on full conversations where you could understand everything he said and every song he’d sing, making diving with him anything but boring.
Dag and I went in as a Sniper pair.
The Embassy was a wreck, buildings shot up and sand bags everywhere. As we arrived the Marine Sergeant Major met us and read us the riot act with his biggest point being that if we were caught not wearing a helmet or body armor he beat us up. Sounds funny, but he meant it and had no time for paper work and idle threats. Being Africa, being hot and being SEALs and not used to wearing that stuff I was sure the Sergeant Major and I’d be rolling in the dirt soon.
The shooting at the Embassy was pretty well over but the clan fighting was not. Heads on stakes, checkpoints blocked the roads using intestines strung across from rival clans and the "Butt Naked’s" would paint their naked bodies white and wear life jackets as body armor. The beach near the Embassy was a grave yard and cannibalizing rival clan bodies was common. Freaks...
Dag and I manned Post One above the main entrance to the Embassy. Using a .50 cal and a Model 700 we’d watch the streets day and night, six hours on and six hours off for the next week. Being Africa hot, we’d pull off our brain buckets only to be told by radio from the main gate to "PUT YOUR HELMETS BACK ON." Dag being Dag at sunset would call the gate and ask " Hey, can you guys see us up here?" Not knowing why we asked they’d reply No, and off came the helmets.
We were all together a few weeks later on the Ponce for the main reason we’d come there. The plan was to swim ashore at night and recon the beach. We’d take the information we gathered and go back in the next night with demolitions and blow a clearing for the Assault Crafts for the next time the Embassy went to shit. World War Two Frogman stuff, we were fired up.
Fired up until Charles Taylor, Liberia’s big cheese had a dream one night that the Americans were going to invade and he announced it to the Country by radio. At the briefing we pushed hard for the mission which was going well until the Marine Flight Surgeon who had nothing to do with it started going on about sharks, rotting corpses and hepatitis in the water.
Shut the F–K up...
Between him and Taylor we were put on hold and I was seeing RED. But I’d get payback a week later as another mission came up and the Flight Surgeon was at my mercy.