With the writing of this essay about my friend Samuel Booth Foster, I have concluded the essays on the men I served with while in Delta Force, with whom I have been comrades and much more than just fair-weather friends, and who have died in the line of a selfless and honorable duty to their country. Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori. It is sweet and glorious to die for one’s country. Geo sends.

There have been ten in all—one for each year of my service with Delta—whose passings have each been more hellish than the last. I am convinced that I have become a better man for having known these men, and am positive that I will never be the same man I was before them.

I confess there is a measure of ethical struggle to include decidedly negative things about a person when memorializing them in writing, but as Sam’s father asked of me after Sam passed away, “George, please write stories about Sam for me. Write all the stories, everything you can remember, both the good and the bad.” Be careful what you ask for, Mr. Foster.

The Air Force load crew of our taxi, the mighty C-130 Hercules, cracked open, rolled upward, and locked the paratrooper exit doors on both sides of the aircraft. Inside the Herc, the ambient air was gradually displaced by the heavy, humid, tropical atmosphere of Key West, Florida. The aroma was a melange of sea salt, the bacon-like smell of paper bark trees, and the methane sting of low tide in the muggy Key West summer.

My Green Beret team was ODA-155, an underwater operations team from the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) out of Fort Lewis, Washington. We had projected a water operations trip to the Florida Keys for two weeks of waterborne operations: submarine trunk escape operations, closed-circuit rebreather tactical infiltration dives, small boat operations with inflatable Combat Rubber Raiding Craft (CRRC)…and perhaps a recreational lobster excursion in the shallow warm waters offshore of Cayo Oueso, Key West.

Our journey to Key West included this initial paradrop to pay for the aircraft; an Air Force shuttle would not cost the Army if it included a tactical training operation for the Air Force. Below us was Fleming Key, Shark drop zone (DZ), and the white wakes of several safety boats racing in tight circles in the ocean below, indicating to me, the jump master, that all was safe below for the personnel drop.

I proudly put my team out and once the last man safely broke away from his deployment bag, I put my knees in the tropical breeze of the southernmost point of the United States. It was a ‘Hollywood’ jump—quite a pleasant experience. No combat equipment, no helmet, wearing shorts and a T-shirt. What a sham, I thought as I ker-THUNKED for a warm splashdown.

A safety boat made its way to me immediately. These were the boats and the men of the Special Forces Combat Diver Qualification Course. The cream of our Green Beret crop. They were physically elite specimens, one and all. Frankly, it was an honor to have them support us in our training operations. What better place, and what better people to partner with for the next few weeks?