A typical day in Delta is an atypical day anywhere else. Therefore, we may say that “a typical day in Delta is a typically atypical day.”
As I recall my reveille was somewhere between zero-dark and zero-dark-thirty (-ish). I pull myself into my kitchen where I had assembled a coffee preparation sequence the night before with only the slightest movements remaining to initiate the cook (economy of motion).
I stupor-proofed the process by attaching an oversized plastic button over the top of the coffeemaker’s “start” button in the event my sleepy state might cause me to miss several times trying to press it. That failure I suffered exactly one time in the past before I rectified it. By my estimate I lost six-tenths of a second from my morning by missing that communist button — unacceptable!
Jumping into my combat-parked truck I skillfully maneuver my coffee mug tipping it slightly into the direction of travel to preclude it from spilling as I speed ahead. On the way to the compound, I keep a lookout for signs of my neighbor and great Delta friend Patrick Arthur McNamara and his motorcycle, as they both were known to incidentally crash into the wood line. Mac laid his bike down at an interval pressing the speed margin hard to shave off those last few tenths of a second from his travel time just like a man possessed.
We both hated windshield time because it robbed us of productivity. I staved off the sting of time loss with books on tape. This morning Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughter House Five (Schlachthof Funf) was blaring over my CD player, and so it went. Shooting through the pine woods on a shortcut that McNamara discovered on his bike I was mindful of fauna in my headlights, otherwise, I introduced higher and higher speed.
The guard at the front gate runs his thumb over the photo on my Unit access badge and renders a sharp salute that I always return. I catch the ghost of a figure running by wearing a gas mask and knew it was my brother Ironclad heading out to run the obstacle course — alone — a thing that was severely frowned on by the Unit with safety in mind. Mad-dashing into the team room to grab my gas mask I high-tailed it to catch up with him for a PT even that I regret to this very minute.
Stumbling into a quick shower I race the clock to make it to breakfast with a couple of the squadron boys who have just begun to arrive. I always tried to get in a good workout before the day began in case fluid events ruined my noon and/or evening workouts. Navigating the obstacle course(s) wearing a gas mask was enough to keep a man from feeling guilty for the rest of the day if he did nothing else.
Back in our team room, our next-door neighbor Bart from assault team A comes in while we were grabbing guns and kit for range fire. This was Bart’s morning ritual without deviation: he goes to Guido’s locker next to mine and begins shaving with Guido’s electric razor as he roots through the team leader’s locker looking for hardboiled eggs that he was known to bring back from the chow hall in the morning.
Bart was not an early riser, so he usually stumbled in just in time to shave with Guido’s razor and pillage for breakfast crumbs. The team leader is just coming out of our weapons lockup and bitches at Bart:
“Damn, Bart… every morning you come in here trying to mooch eggs.”
“Yeah… and every morning I come in here you don’t have any!” He pouts as he slams Guido’s razor down in the charger.
“You’re welcome, Bart!” the Guid always called out as Bart left the team room.
The short ride in the team van is always accentuated by Brian P. sneering at me through the Copenhagen dip in his mouth because he is a Ranger and I am a Green Beret.
Marky-Mark “Cos” S. erupts as he always does in the morning spouting off preposterous supposed truths which receive calls of “bull$hit” from the team and Cos’ countering: “No, no really… no really… really, no…”
That always cued Guido to holler out at the top of his lungs: “NO, NO REALLY… NO, NO REALLY!!” My, how they loved each other.
The next few hours are a fog of dirt, brass, cordite, supersonic bullet reports and thunderous booms of men cursing and challenging one another to bouts of speed and accuracy. Cokes are on the line for the best shooter as men dart around in sprints and pushups to add physical distress to the mix of their shooting drills. The morning peaks with a raucous crescendo of noise, sweat, oaths, brass, and gun oil.
Guido always brought along a surprise to christen the week’s fine training effort. If was always something mindless, relaxing and fun. On this day he pulls a case of 40mm grenades out of the back of the van and two M-70 grenade launchers. I say, 70 grenades is a bit much for just two men, but Guido and I just kick back and plug away out on our demolition range.
We challenged each other with hitting skinnier and skinnier trees out there, just saplings really. We pump grenades at the targets as fast as we can cycle them through our M-79s, just wanting to be the first one to score on the target. When the strong recoil becomes too much for our shoulders, we strip off our T-shirts, wad them up and used them as padding between the weapon and our shoulder and keep spraying hate at a maddening pace. Ah, but it was better than a Calgon bath.
Our race back to the building is for the hour and a half that we have for personal physical training and chow. All five men of my assault team work out in the gym lifting. Cos never fails to impress with his power lifts. Guido flexes his biceps without fail and announces that he was “pumping up ol’ Betsy, here!” He had been a towed jumper in the past; his biceps on one arm had been ripped from the middle of his humerus bone and rammed down near his elbow. It healed that way and was just a spectacle to see.
Brian P. just lifts and sneers away at me, the lazy cheating Green Beret. I always fancied high repetitions with lower weights, and still do to this day. I often rolled my workouts up with alternating rope and caving ladder climbs punctuated by high-repetition pushups in between. The whole gymnasium just vibrates with grunts, laughs, metal slams, and metal music, usually AC/DC or Metallica blazing away since Mac is in the gym and everyone listens to what Mac wants to listen to… well, because Mac is Mac and nobody wants to upset Mac.
We all pile into the chow hall sweating like pigs, having skipped showers to workout longer and still make lunch. We pigs sit on one side of the chow hall at our pig troughs grunting and snorting down our pig slop, laughing and talking with our mouths full, wiping our mouth on our forearms, leaning our elbows on the tables, using the wrong forks, swearing, coughing without covering our mouths, doing 100% of all that our mothers tried NOT to instill in their sons.
The rest of the Unit personnel sit on the other side of the chow hall just outside the range of flying food fragments from the troughs. Two Unit secretaries sit together several restaurant-style tables away:
“They’re disgusting… revolting animals!” One lamented.
“Yes, the other began, “Perhaps you should go over there and tell them that,” the other challenged.
With an avalanche of mess trays collapsing in the mess window the pigs depart the style and head back to the squadron for some mission planning. Upstairs in the classroom, there are satellite and high-flyer intel photographs, maps, charts, sand tables and other intel support apparatus depicting all aspects of specific real-world target subjects.
Our Unit Intelligence Analysts (intel bros) deliver briefs on targets in their respective areas of the globe, then float in and around among us for impromptu Q&A as we develop assault plans on various target objectives that we know will change the following day. That is just fine because planning is a perishable skill and is never wasted on a real-world target, no matter how remote the possibility of execution.
My task at the moment is to take charge of an MH-6 Little Bird helo and a team of three men to devise a plan on how I am going to chase down a target individual (Raven) if he “sprints” from his convoy vehicle and tries to escape across-country once the main assault begins. I devise a simple three-part contingency: IF the Raven does this, THEN we will do this, ELSE we will do that. A simple “if-then-else” code script in C++, much the same way a computer is programmed.
Brief backs come at the end of the planning session with each responsible individual standing to announce their part of the overall assault plan back to the group. I open my brief with: “Ok, for sprinter chase and recovery I worked out a simple three-pronged plan…” to which I am immediately interrupted with: “Three Prong Plan… that sounds like a Thai food dish!” The room laughs, as I retort: “Yeah, I’m sure your mom would eat it,” with more laughing.
The pack heads back down the hall for the evening meal. Right after that will be a final target brief back to end the day. That doesn’t take more than a half-hour and we’re done for an easy day.
“Anyone know what’s for chow?”
“Yeah, it’s Three Prong Plan courtesy of Geo!”
“Oh, so your mom’s coming to dinner?”
And so it goes.
At the end of the day, the brothers are tricking out the back door for the day. I like to get a few laps on the revolving climbing wall to tune that skill and work the forearms out a bit. That evolution doesn’t last more than a half-hour and usually one of the brothers joins me, certainly brother Brian P. does so’s to get in those last few sneers at his favorite Green Beret.
One last pass through a shower and it seems I may be the last one to leave, but one of our troop-level officers bursts into the lounge:
“Geo… I’m glad someone is still here. Change into smooths and pack a bag; you’re going to Florida to advise on a highjacking situation that just unfolded. Plan for about three days!” And he is gone.
Back in my team room I’m dressed in smooths and shoving a one-last-thing in my travel bag when the same officer pokes his head in my door and:
“Geo, stand down; the situation has changed. Just go home and report to duty business as usual in the morning.”
“Roger that, boss.”
With one last salute, I’m gone through the gate and flying back down wooded roads minding the fauna though my headlights, as it is dark again. On the hardball, I double my speed and keep a lookout for signs of Pat McNamara’s motorcycle tracks veering off the road toward the wood line… nothing!
Back home I stand back up my coffee process for the morning: all components in place, everything functional, no wasted motion. My cell buzzes to a TXT from Mac:
“The Sopranos just started… you tracking?”
“Oh, hellz yeah, Mac; today is Wednesday — tracking!”
At the culmination of the Sopranos, I yawn a path back to the rack. Thanking the creator for another productive day I let my head slap the hay hard, cuz I am for whom the bell tolls tomorrow at zero-dark or dark-thirty (-ish).
By Almighty God and with honor,