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Extreme SEAL Experience Blog


Monday March 10th 2008 - 14:24 AM EST
Added by: Don Shipley

I grew up on a large cattle farm in Pennsylvania and I did three things as a kid; I hunted and I trapped and I accumulated pets. You name it, and chances are I’ve had it as a pet. That changed very little when I became a SEAL and continues today.

My first pet in SEAL Team was a rattlesnake. The desert was filled with them and one night I caught a pile. I had them all in a trash can and they were laying on top of each other hiding.

All hiding except one.

In the middle of the can he rattled and struck anything being fearless and I decided I’d keep him. I put him in and ammo box and attached screen on top and released the others. I put the ammo box under the barracks to keep my friend safe and cool.

We were in the middle of a brief when the doors blew opened and in came a red faced super pissed Vietnam vet SEAL who was the camp guard. He yelled " WHO THE F__K PUT A SNAKE UNDER THE BARRACKS?"

Being a "New Guy" I came clean and waited to be punched out.

Apparently he went under to fix an air conditioner in the tight space and moved the box out of his way. When the snake rattled loudly he didn’t know it was in the box and thought it was hiding nearby and going to bite him.

I guess he moved pretty quick.

Close to our base in Puerto Rico was an island where they raised monkeys for labs. A few of us took a Zodiac boat for a visit. Landing the boat on Monkey Island, we patrolled through well worn paths looking for a friendly one.

Fat Chance...

They followed at a distance and watched us through the brush and it seemed like word quickly spread that we were on the island as more and more showed up and started raising Hell and throwing things. One of the guys suggested we should leave and we began retracing our steps back to the boats.

The monkeys realized we were leaving and surrounded us. While this may sound funny, some of these guys were big and it was starting to get ugly as we armed ourselves with sticks and continued our retreat.

They chased us on the beach as a few of us fought them off, while the others shoved the boat in the water and we jumped in paddling and trying to start the motor as the monkeys entered the water trying to get in the boat.

I never knew a monkey could swim.

I had a Hedge Hog in Bosnia as a pet. He liked me and was comfortable, but anytime someone came around he’d jump and stick me with his sharp spines. I let him go and got a stray dog.

I named the dog Bihac, after a rough area of Bosnia and he loved all the guys and slept with me every night. We worked for a Army SF Colonel and he wasn’t wild about me having him, but said as long as I kept him low profile I could keep him.

Bihac’s last day came as I was entering Headquarters.

I opened the heavy door and just inside was a large briefing room filled with some serious "Brass" for a briefing. Bihac tried to follow and the door hit him. Stuck half way he began screaming and would not stop as I freed him. He hauled ass back to the barracks screaming all the way.

I stuck my head inside and said "Sorry" to all the nice Generals and Admirals as the Colonel sat stone faced and burned holes through me with laser eyes.

I didn’t need told what to do and found a new home for Bihac.

Pakistan blew chunks. A miserable place in every sense of the word and we were isolated far from civilization. We all suffered after awhile from "Desert Weariness" a medical condition coined by US. Troops fighting in North Africa in WWII.

Desert Weariness was a dulling of the senses. Nothing changed in the Desert, no new sights, no new sounds, nothing. You didn’t see a Walmart, you didn’t hear a siren, the landscape was brown and barren.

I needed a pet.

I began throwing out leftovers and in a few days I had large crows that would show up at certain times to feed. I made a snare from parachute cord and laid it out on the ground around the leftovers and led it back to a bunker where I waited concealed.

Soon, one of the most beautiful birds I had even seen landed and made its way to the food hopping like a rabbit. It was a Egyptian Vulture with a bright yellow head and he was big. I raised plenty of crows and hawks as a kid but not a vulture.

He stepped in the snare and I pulled hard. He went airborne and I struggled to pull him down as he flew circles from above raising Hell. I finally wrestled him to the ground as he hissed and swatted me with his huge wings and with all the commotion, I had attracted the attention of a few guys who laughed and cheered.

Not wanting to have him hurt himself, I made a bold move and grabbed both his outstretched wings near his body. The move while bold was stupid as I wasn’t wearing a shirt and he LATCHED down on my nipple and most of my left pec with his huge beak. I winced in pain but avoided screaming as we now had a standoff.

Smart bird, he knew he had me and relaxed and we stared in each others eyes. His look seemed to me that he knew he had the upper hand. He looked calm and content. Every time I looked away trying to figure something out he bit down a little harder.

Oooo the guys were laughing as I told them not to come any closer. Seriously, this bird ripped apart carcasses and was powerful. He, in one bite could have taken my breast off and I’m not sure why he didn’t.

The snare was still attached to his foot so I let go of his wings and he let go of my chest and he flew for it. A smarter guy would have just said good riddance but I could not let him fly with the cord still attached and the aerial battle continued as I pulled him to the ground again.

I grabbed him by the neck and tucked in his wings with my arm holding him safely.

I had him...Now what?

I just hoped he would show some compassion again as I let go of his neck and started to un-snare him. He didn’t, and bit down hard on my arm and shit the worst crap I had ever smelled all over my belly.

With the snare undone, I let go and he flew away.

I caught a crow a few days later with the same tactic and had him eating out of my hand in an hour. He slept on a perch by my bed and I’d break a chemlite for him at night for him to play with. I let my friend go as I moved to Afghanistan and found a new pet that was the nastiest cat on the planet.

Chester was a bad ass tomcat. Our compound had working dogs used for a lot of things and the place was over run with cats. The cats really distracted the dogs from doing what they were supposed to do and the decision was made to destroy the cats.

Chester was the only one who survived.

He was mean, filthy, and hated everyone except me and the guard dogs were afraid of him. The chow hall served a variety of great chow to keep up moral and Chester ate three square meals a day of smoked salmon and other things I’d get him. He followed me to chow for each meal and waited for me to come out. The guys got a big kick out of it as Chester would follow me like a dog. Day or night, no matter what I was doing, Chester would just hang out. Returning from outside the compound I’d whistle and he’d come running, happy I was home and safe.

As mangy as he was he helped me to no end keep some sanity in such a God forsaken shithole.

A young SEAL in Iraq hit a target one night and came across a mother and a litter of pups. He took two of the pups back and raised them in their camp. The Platoon Senior Chief hated the dogs and told him to get rid of them but the guys revolted and he relaxed.

Slightly relaxed...

The young SEAL named one of the dogs Master Chief and would say that he outranked the Senior Chief mocking him, the other dog he named Mujihadeen after the Afghan fighters.

Clark, who took the dogs, was killed during an assault near the end of his deployment overseas. The dogs became a "Turnover Item" for the Platoon that relieved Clark’s Platoon and they loved and looked after the dogs.

Mujihadeen viciously attacked a guard dog and had to be destroyed and was buried by the guys at Clark’s Memorial in Iraq.

With a ton of paperwork and requests, Master Chief was flown from Iraq and resides with Clark’s family in the States.

As I write this I’m looking at my Sons dog he named Mujihadeen laying next to me. I should correct that and say my Son is a busy boy and that Mujihadeen is my dog now.

Thanks Son...

My Son and Clark were in BUD/S together and close friends. My Son and his friends buried Mujihadeen at Clark’s Memorial and helped get Master Chief home.

Team Guys...



Comment by: jody Behnke
Monday March 10th 2008 - 4:29 PM EST

What a great story. I grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin and had many pets as well...but a rattlesnake?, a hedgehog? You've got bigger stones than I'll ever have. I really like the fact that you are taking care of that dog. What a great community of not just warriors, but people you all are. Such an honorable group of men. I can't wait to meet all of you in May.

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