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.
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.
When the assault came to a halt, my team was in a long hallway freezing down floor space for security. The hall was jammed with smoke from the bangers. My position coincidentally fell at the jam of an exterior door. I threw it open and wedged a chain in it to keep it open and evacuate some of the smoke. It helped a little… if you were right by the door. There was a good bit of pulmonary distress going on; hacking, coughing, and spitting.
Sam recognized the good deal by the open the door, and called out to me immediately: “XB4, trade security positions with me.” I jumped up thinking there was an important task at hand. I soon realized that good deal Sam just wanted to swap locations so that he could profit from the more comfortable position by the door.
Our team leader Pete A., the best team leader I ever had in Delta, was overcome by the smoke and became violently ill from the inhalation of the toxic smoke. He vomited repeatedly, and lost all bowel and bladder control.
George: “Sam, Pete needs help!”
Sam: “That’s ok, we’ll be out of here soon.”
And so it went.
I coined the phrase: “Good deal, Sam; bad deal, scram.” Yes, I did it. And the meaning, if not already readily apparent is: if there is a good deal to be had then Sam is on-board with it. But, if the deal is a bad one, then Sam is getting the hell out of it. Case in point is our Squadron trip to British Guyana.
Sam was sent there with another squadron man to set up the two weeks of waterborne operations training there. Recognizing what a $hit hole the area was, he arranged for several weeks of Spanish language immersion training for himself in Costa Rica during the same time frame as the Guyana trip, thereby ‘poo-pooing’ it. We would have to resurrect the spirit of this training adventure in his stead, which I did.
When I returned from Guyana, and Sam returned from Costa Rica, I greeted him with: “Como fue?” to which he replied: “Huh?” That’s exactly what I suspected; Good Deal Sam, Bad Deal Scram
Sam, at a later date, came to me breathless one day stating: “Hey George… that “Good deal Sam, bad deal scram shit… a lot of people have taken that to heart!” What could I say? “Sam, that’s because they see the aphorism has substance. You have to live it down to dispel it.” so said I.
Well, it was a very routine kind of thing being, ‘out-everthinged’ by Sam on a daily basis: out shot on the range, out done in Physical Training (PT), out done in accuracy landing with a parachute, out-thunk in most mental events, out this, out that, just out everything! It could put you in a vendetta-kind of mood, but it definitely made you train harder just to beat him, oh and presto, you are a better operator now too!
Ah, but every dog has it’s day: I bring you now to a night assault on a hard target objective with an explosive breach requirement. In the assault stack by our explosive entry point we had emplaced our breaching charge and were waiting for the final count down to begin our explosive entry on this surgical strike with coordinated sniper support!
In the assault stack, and on final count down, Snipers who are listening to the count down on the radio will fire at their acquired targets on a specific number, while the command detonated breaching charges are fired on yet another number. On this night Good Deal Sam, who was the first man by the door in the stack, inexplicably rose up and charged forth just as the door charge fired—BOOOOM!!
Sam was blown several feet from the door, where he lay flat on his back, unconscious and looking up at the stars—the real ones, and the cartoon ones. We rushed by him and flooded the objective until the target was secure. Upon exit, Samuel Foster was finally up sitting on the ground with potentially the fattest pair of lips any of us had ever seen: “Wha… wha… what happened?” he croaked. “Hey Sam” one brother began, “Being number one man in the stack… well that’s just not a good deal after all, is it?.” Sam managed to exhale a sincere: “fffffffffffuuuuck ooofffffff!”
Having conveyed that story, I am now fresh out of instances to tell where Sam screwed up; I can only offer that isolated case where he did. Things are about to get a little more serious from here out.