Dedication for this essay goes to SOFREP brother Alex Laserblast

Samuel Booth Foster was a kayaking phenomenon. As for the biggest, strongest brothers in the Combat Diver Academy, none of them could keep pace with Sam in a kayak. Even while power sailing, a technique where a kayak would paddle hard and erect a sail to profit from the wind, Sam would fly past them on paddle alone, dribbling mocking insults as he passed, customary for Sam.

Kayaks were a large part of the Waterborne Operations Course (WOC) that the dive school ran a few times a year in the day. It was six murderous weeks on the water and the men who attended began to refer to it as Ranger School on the Water. The course went on for barely a year until it was dropped for lack of support from the military Special Operations community.

Though the course dwindled and died, Sam and the Johannes Klepper Kayak remained and prevailed. Sam continued to torpedo himself and his kayak through the ocean waters surrounding Key West Florida. Sam and I even paddled out to the Five Mile Reef in our kayaks to do a scuba dive hunt for lobster. I learned to hunt lobster from Sam; the man was a fish — totally at home in his element at sea.

Sam went so far as to purchase his own sports kayak. It was a lean and sleek sea-going craft. Sam looked like he was paddling from a giant knife blade as he slipped by us, silent and deadly, at speeds that even the mind was vexed to hold. I tried many times one day to just sit on Sam’s sports Kayak as he stood chuckling with arms crossed. At length my pride bade me halt, never to poise upon the keenly-honed edge of the craft.

“Jesus Paste, Sam, trying to sit on this diabolic shim is like trying to stack greased ball bearings while sitting in the back of a Pakistani Taxi!” Sam chortled his derisive demeaning laugh as he vaulted himself aboard and ghosted off the way of the Calda Channel. “Well, the rich just keep getting richer,” I thought of the dot that was Sam on the horizon.

Then Sam left for Delta; with him went the inspiration for the kayak, and kayak operations as they pertained to Special Operations.

I left Key West as well, months behind Sam. I was promptly assigned to Sam’s Squadron and his five-man assault team. There was a push in Delta to stand up a robust water operations capability, and Sam quite appropriately was at the head of that innovative push.