JJ was prepared mentally. She’d been lucky enough to have a former Navy SEAL instructor as a swim coach. He’d beat the shit out of her and her team physically and mentally to the point that she knew the game and was thankful for it.
“Bring it on,” she thought…
Initially, she and Olga had been split up into different boat crews. But in Week Four the class had to be reshuffled into groups of seven-person boat crews based on height (since they had to carry the boats on your head). JJ and Olga had been matched up in the same crew because both were around 5’9″ inches, a little above average for the class. Amanda, at almost six feet tall, was in boat crew number one with the tallest of the class.
One thing the women talked about during their routine of after-class nightly dinners or coffee meetings was how average the class looked four weeks into training.
The candidates definitely did not look like what Hollywood depicts on a movie poster. Most of them were of average height and weight and you could’ve passed them on the street and never known.
After four punishing weeks, the class had started to bond. Most were too afraid to get close in the beginning for fear of making friends with someone who’d quit and be gone in an hour and nobody wanted to be next to a quitter. The women, especially, seemed to get it even worse, Soon enough, though, most of the weakest in the class were gone as Hell Week was about to kick off.
One thing that had surprised JJ was that the instructors did not go easy on anyone, especially them. Actually, they got it worse, much worse.
They came hard and fast 24/7 at the entire class and if they sniffed out any weakness or a crack in character, they exploited it as much as they could.
JJ had more respect for the program and was glad they didn’t go easy on her and the other women because that would have made it worse on them in the long run and tarnished their reputations. This was also one of the reasons Olga, and Jackie G were now just three ordinary BUD/S candidates to their classmates. They had earned the respect of the class at this point and most, but not all, of the instructors’.
Captain Raven’s Scar
The only special treatment they’d all had so far was being pulled separately in front of the Commanding Officer Burt Raven and Master Chief Jackie Jackson of the Naval Special Warfare Command’s office to ensure they felt they were being treated equally among their male counterparts. It had been a short conversation.
“Olga, you doin’ good?” Jackson had asked in a thick southern accent.
“We wouldn’t want you to think we was going soft on ya’ll now,” Jackson had barked in a loud crisp voice.
Raven had just stared at her and Jackson with steely eyes, his noticeable scar running diagonally across his left brow to his chin. Olga thought there must be a good story behind that one.
“Hooyah Masterchief,” she had said.
“Don’t fucking Hooyah me to fucking death, Oleg, speak your mind, women.”
Raven had given Jackson a nod to back off a bit.
“Olga, we just want to make sure you feel that there’s no special treatment given to you here. If we go easy on you and the rest of the women recruits the program would lose respect, you would lose the respect of your classmate and maybe future teammates, and this entire integration process will have no respect inside the military understood?” Raven had said.
“Very much sir, Olga have no problem with program.”
“Ok, thank you, you’re dismissed,” Raven had replied quietly.
Olga had stood there eyes fixed on the gnarled scar running across Captain Raven’s face. Rumors floated among her classmates that Raven had gotten into a knife fight on a tanker ship off the coast of Somalia. Got slashed by a Somali pirate with a box cutter during a hostage rescue. The pirate got it much worse. Raven took an Emerson tactical knife to his jugular and while he bled him out, staring at him through a blood-stained left retina, he didn’t flinch. There’s a big difference when you’re fighting to kill or just fighting. The pirate learned this lesson too late. SEALs are taught that every fight is a fight to the finish, no tap-outs, no time-outs, no mercy.
She felt real fear thinking about this man and what he was capable of, and this was something she wasn’t used to feeling until she classed up with 222. Clearly, the instructors were the real deal.
“What n thee fuck you waiting for Oleg!? A Goddamn presidential escort? Get your skinny communist, SOCOM Navy SEAL video game playing, wannabe ass out of here, and join your class on the beach for some log PT!”
“Hoo fucking ya. GET on it!” Jackson had yelled.
“Tough gal,” Raven had said.
“Yah, she is a tough mutha for sure. We threw about everything we could at her and that clock keeps on ticking.”
“Keep up the good work, Jackson. We don’t want to end up like the Navy’s female pilot program. Soon as they started giving special treatment and third chances people started dying and that’s not happening to our community, not on my watch.”
“Yes sir, understood.”
“You’re a good man Jackson. How’s the beautiful wife of yours?”
“Good sir, expecting our second boy this year.”
“Mine would be a widow if it wasn’t for you, Jackson.”
Jackson had grinned that big wide grin. “Someone has to look out for your ass sir, glad that someone is me.”
“Thanks, Jackson, I’m also glad it’s you.”
The scar story was true. What most of the students didn’t know was that Jackie Jackson saved Raven’s life that day.
Once SEAL Team Three had boarded the small missionary ship off the coast of Somalia they had realized it was too close quarters to use firearms. Although they had planned for this and had loaded up frangible bullets that wouldn’t ricochet the ship was just too tight.
The SEAL platoon, led by Raven, would go on to save four out of six of the Christian missionaries. The other two had been shot dead by nervous trigger-finger pirates. The pirates had panicked when they found out that the men with black hoods were coming for them.
Raven had entered the bow compartment to find the dead Christians. He was checking pulses and about to administer first aid when Jackson yelled for him to check six. He spun around to see a skinny pirate with a box cutter coming for him. He spun so fast and surprised the stunned pirate who flailed at him slashing his face open. Raven’s brow bone was the only thing that saved his left eye. Raven flicked his Emerson open as he drew the knife up and stuck the pirate in the neck. It was like hog hunting back in Texas as a young boy to put food on his poor family’s table.
The pirate bled out while Jackson secured the room.
Brandon is re-writing his novel (working title, ‘First of the Best: The Story of the First Females to Finish Navy SEAL Training’) about the first females to make it through SEAL training. To follow along please check out his upcoming work on SOFREP. You can read Part I here and Part II here.
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