Extreme SEAL Experience Blog
Kick Some Ass, Nick. Thank you, BroSaturday March 09th 2013 - 6:55 PM EST
I graduated BUD/S training and was assigned to SEAL Team ONE, Foxtrot Platoon and began SBI (SEAL Basic Indoc) now called SQT (SEAL Qualification Training). Our Land Warfare, Tactics, and Demolition training was conducted at a small SEAL Camp in the Sonoran Desert in Niland, California and SQT’s are still conducted there today.
Our Camp back then were old metal buildings with uneven floors and just plain crappy living, but I loved it there. Bunkers for the bullets and demolitions, classroom, showers, bunks and a dilapidated part we called a chowhall. No cooks in white hats and jackets in the chowhall, we were on our own each day for meals which consisted much of Macaroni and Cheese, Ramen Noodles and a bowl of cereal for breakfast; bachelor type foods
My brain does much Ctrl, Alt, Delete these days as whatever doesn’t seem very important is erased from my memory but one of the clearest memories I have of being a SEAL was having a bowl of cereal in the chowhall for breakfast one morning at Niland
June, 8th 1985The chowhall was full of chatter that morning as some 50 of us sat at tables having breakfast and trading insults with each other, ready to begin a very long and very hot day in the desert heat running tactics training. I was having a bowl of cereal and it was 0745 in the morning.
Exactly 0745, I remember, when our lead SEAL Instructor entered the chowhall
We were out of BUD/s and our Instructors now were just fellow SEALs from Team ONE. No dropping for pushups, no Goon Squads, we were far past that, but they were deeply respected and when one of them said something we all listened intently
While we all sat with a mouthful of food, our Instructor waited for everyone’s attention and total silence before he spoke. He said, "Todd Hahka was killed last night "
He waited for a few brief seconds and finished by saying, "Get your shit and be on the range in 15-minutes." And he turned and walked out of the chowhall leaving all of us dumb struck
Todd was returning to the SEAL Camp and took a sharp turn driving one of the old Military Jeep’s we had at Camp. The Jeep rolled and Todd was killed.
None of us noticed Todd wasn’t at chow that morning and Todd slept right next to my bunk, we were friends.
The chowhall became ghostly quiet as we all stared in disbelief for a moment.
In those days we went through SBI as Platoons so not everybody was a new guy like myself, but most of us were. For most of us that day it was the first death in SEAL Team we’d been exposed to. For the older SEALs present it was far from a new experience for them after spending so many years in SEAL TeamIt happens
I was a new SEAL but I’d been in the Navy already for 5-years. Guys had died on ships I was on before and things just stopped when they happened for the most part. The Captain would speak, the Chaplin and much focused around the guy that died in the daily activity onboard ship.
There was NONE of that when Todd died"Get your shit and be on the range in 15-minutes."
I CLEARLY remember thinking what a truly HARD fraternity of HARD men I had joined and the Instructors reaction quickly made sense to me. There was nothing we could do for Todd. No day off, no counseling was needed. As SEALs we had a job to do. We needed to push past this and finish training
We needed to finish the missionAnd I grew up much that day as a young SEAL
I’ve attended too many Memorial Services for SEALs killed. I remember attending one in Arkansas while training there and we left our weapons at the door of an Army Chapel and listened to the service wearing our assault gear and covered in mud
I ran SQT Demolition Training for Class 234, made famous in the Discovery Channel special about BUD/S Training at Niland, 16 years after Todd was killed there. Our Demolition Training was being conducted on September 11, 2001 when planes struck the World Trade Center as we watched in horror.
I called the class together just like my Instructor had 16-years earlier and said there was nothing we could do and that all of them (The Class) were going to War shortly. We needed to finish training and we did
We loaded all our demolitions in 6x6 trucks and began to drive out of the same gate I passed through the day Todd was killed. I stopped short of the gate and yelled for one of the guys to run back and lower the Flag to Half Mast for the folks in New York
I’ll attend another Memorial soon for Nick Checque (Check) who was killed during a hostage rescue in Afghanistan last week. Nick graduated SEAL Training with my Son in Class 247 in 2004 and I was very proud to attend his graduation.
Nick spent time at our Cabin over the years for parties and we have his old camouflage uniforms which you guys still wear during the courses here
A very gifted, good looking young SEAL; and after 28 years of attending SEAL Memorials it never gets easierHis service will be very tough on Diane and myself
Kick Some Ass, Nick. Thank you, Bro