Sam spoke his mind whether you liked it or not. You know how most of us go all day long and typically say about 25% of what we are thinking out loud, and keep the other 75% quiet? Well, Sam said all that other 75% of shit out loud. Folks just weren’t down with that; I applauded it. Don’t ever ask Sam what he thinks if you have any spiritual vulnerability.

At the funeral of a fallen comrade at the Fort Bragg JFK Chapel, the eulogist went on: “Gregory was such a great guy. His outstanding work is testament to his drive, dedication, and motivation.” Sam leaned over to me and (at least) whispered: “Is this some bullshit or what? Greg fucked up everything he laid his hands on.” I responded with: “Yes he did, but for Christ’s sake… this is the man’s funeral after all; can you cut him a little slack?”

Sam was a selfish man, or at least I fancied him one. A selfish man can never ever make a good leader. In Mogadishu, Somalia, our team leader, MSG Pete A., was called back to the states for a family emergency. That by default left Sam our ‘leader.’ There were only two of us under him: me and Will “Chill-D” W. That same night, Sam came to us and declared, “Tonight we have three guard shifts assigned to us, so that means you two will have to decide which one of you pulls one shift and which one pulls two. Ha ha ha ha ha!” That is just the way he was.

At our squadron’s initial leadership planning meeting in Somalia, plans were being formulated on how to conduct combat operations in the city, based on input from our already battle-christened C Squadron. At the time, the revered MSG Charles R. was the sole black operator in A Squadron. During a brief lull in the planning, the squadron commander asked, “Sam, I hear the gears turning upstairs; what do you think?” Sam’s candid reply: “Well sir, I suggest we mark Charles somehow and kill everybody else.” Sam earned a stern verbal warning, followed by around 54 high-fives from the squadron brothers, one of which was delivered by the man himself, Charles R.

Scan 1
(L-R) Pete A., Sam Foster, William W., author freshly returned from Mogadishu, Somalia

In the three years I was with the Combat Dive Academy, instructors from our cadre began trying out for Delta section for various reasons. They typically trained and tried out in pairs for mutual support. They ALL got selected. Sam left for Delta on his first try. I was back in Key West coming to the conclusion that I too would try out. I had a partner to train with who bowed out early on due to a family matter. I trained and tried out on my own, and made it on my first try as well.

Sam immediately pulled strings to get me into his own squadron, and on his own assault team on the basis of my waterborne experience. His squadron was pushing hard to break Delta into the realm of waterborne operations. I was honestly ok with that. If however, they were seeking to take missions away from SEAL Team-Six, then I was suddenly not on board. In my mind Delta would not be able to fill its current charter, and take on the waterborne mission such that it could exclude ST-6… that dog just wasn’t going to hunt.

I put my energy into the waterborne training, and performed my roll as water operations advocate in the Delta Force to the utmost of my ability. In the end, we couldn’t nearly muster the support from the rest of the squadrons to sustain the waterborne operations endeavor. The push slowly fizzled out. Sam became bored with it, and moved on to other things.

Did I mention that Sam was a selfish guy? Well I sure fancied him one, yes I did. I remember the first urban combat operations trip I made with my new team in A squadron. We went to New York and New Jersey. We attacked a target building in New Jersey one evening, conducting Close Quarter Combat (CQC). The weapons fire was live, loud, and violent. The flash-bang (banger) stun grenades rained into room after room; Armageddon was alive and well, and in Jersey of all places.