I’ve written in the past about some of the absurd and funny things you see and experience as a Green Beret — this is another one that came to mind.

I was in Boston recently and a family of tourists were driving by. As I was crossing the street they stopped to ask for directions. That’s how I could tell that they were tourists: no one in Boston asks for directions. Apparently, their GPS was on the fritz. 

Something about the man’s accent or the way he pronounced a word sparked memories of a different time and era. But first a little background information.

Back in the mid-to-late 1980s, the 7th Special Forces Group began spending a lot more time in the country of Honduras. There was already a big insurgency problem in El Salvador; a bloody civil war in Guatemala; and of course, the Marxist takeover in Nicaragua that had put Soviet-made tanks and vehicles in the streets of Managua. But Honduras? That was considered a backwater by Washington. They were wrong.

The new commander of the 7th SFG was a breath of fresh air after his predecessor. Colonel John D. Waghelstein was a brilliant officer and a career Special Operator. He spent about 25 years of that time battling insurgencies in Vietnam, Southeast Asia, Panama, the Dominican Republic and was with the team that trained the Bolivian soldiers who caught Che Guevara. “The Wag” as he was known by the guys, was convinced that a Stage 1 or early Stage 2 insurgency was in place in Honduras. He managed he to convince John Galvin at SOUTHCOM. Waghelstein would eventually be proven correct. 

So, from one or two big missions a year in which 7th SFG would send a battalion down there for three-four weeks, under “the Wag”’s predecessor (he who shalt not be named), everything changed. There were constantly at least four to six A-Teams in Honduras spread out all over the country. When the planes would fly in to take them home after six to eight weeks, other A-Teams would replace them. They were to observe and report — “read the tea leaves” as Waghelstein put it. Honduras was a success story because it got nipped in the bud, and “the Wag” was never credited with it — but it was his doing. However, I digress…

So, if you were a SF team guy in 7th SFG back then, you would have spent plenty of time with the different battalions spread out all over the country, as well as in the Regional Training Center known as the CREM (Centro Regional de Entrenamiento Militar) that was located in Trujillo. 

We spent multiple deployments with the 4th Inf. Bn in La Ceiba as well as with the 6th Inf. Bn and the anti-tank company in Ojo de Agua or, as we called it, Ojo de Nada. During one deployment to La Ceiba, the Hondo unit cleared out a small building for our team to use right by the front gate. It was fairly new and located on the left of the long driveway where the base’s entrance was. We set up a weapons cleaning area right behind the building, where we would gather to clean the jungle funk off our weapons whenever we came back, and to talk smack to one another.