Prologue:There a two men who I credit, or blame, for bringing me to the Delta Force from my state of uncertainty and lack of self-confidence: James Nelson Sudderth and Matthew Loren Rierson. Both are departed. Both deliberately approached me and asked me to come to Delta Force.

First it was Matt who asked me ‘when I was coming’, coaxing the gears in my head to turn and engage. From that I felt a distinct lean forward that I merely nursed for about a year. Then came James, who TOLD me with a knife hand to my chest to come. That’s how James conveyed messages of all sort, with knife hand to chest. The lean forward became a jog ahead, and then a run. I ran right into the Delta Force, never looking back, no longer just Jenny on the block.

I’m an SOF Combat Diver by trade, or at least I fancy myself one. I was assigned to the Combat Dive Academy as a Senior Instructor/Writer from 1989 to 1991. One of the courses we offered to the SOF community in the day was titled the Waterborne Infiltration Course (WIC). I attended the very first pilot course of WIC as a student. It was quickly and unaffectionately nicked: ’Ranger School on Water’.

WIC was six weeks of, grueling, finning, Zodiac-driving, Klepper kayak-paddling, over-the-horizon navigating, ass-whipping training on every tactical aspect of SOF waterborne operations, with the exception of underwater events! Underwater operations were a completely different animal, and required a specially select man to perform them.

Special Forces in the WIC course; long range navigation and infiltration with a Zodiac F-470 Combat Rubber Raiding Craft (CRRC)

WIC only ran for several iterations, and then it was dropped from the Key West curriculum for ‘lack of support by the Special Forces Groups’. That is a polite way of saying guys didn’t want to come to the WIC because it was just plain TOO HARD!

I could go on about how much harder the pilot WIC I attended was, as it was executed to find out how much was too much for us mere mortals… but this essay is not about me; it is about a man that I only ever imagined I was as good as.

Helocast operations; Special Forces troops cast from the back of a CH-47 helicopter as it flies ~10 MPH, and ~10ft above the surface of the water.

Meet James Sudderth:
WIC students occupied the tarmac adjacent to the dive academy equipped with hoses and brushes, vigorously washing and rinsing salt water from Zodiac F-470 Combat Rubber Raiding Craft, and other personal and team equipment. These men had been dropped by CH-47 helos some 16 nautical miles from the shore of key west the night before.

At that distance you are ‘beyond the splash line’ or Over the Horizon (OTH); that is, you have traveled so far from shore that you can no longer see land due to the curvature of the Earth’s round service. With no visual reference, these men had to perform instrument approach back to shore using compass, and route calculations that they had done in prior mission planning, to defeat Mama Nature’s tides, waves, and ocean currents.