Editor’s Note: Geo’s memoir, “Brothers of the Cloth,” a true account of special mission unit soldiers, has sold out in hardcover and will soon be coming out in paperback! You can keep an eye out for it here.


I’m put squarely in mind of an amazing brother of mine who went by the call sign “Crapshoot.” It is the vision of him I see just past his breaching through an incredibly thick steel vault door with a Broco exothermic plasma torch.

Crapshoot half crawled and then was pulled out of the hole in the door like a rat. His face was black and he was coughing, having pulled his gas mask off at some point during his ordeal. He had crawled in there with a full leather welder’s apron on over his combat load. It hung down to his knees and was spattered with slag burns.

His hair and mustache were singed and he had smoke coming off him… somehow. He was helped up and sat down with his back up against the concrete bunker. One man was left to stay with him while he rested for a spell and traded the contents of his lungs for actual air. He cradled his rifle in the crooks of his elbows like a man whose hands were burned.

One by one we wormed through the hole in the gargantuan portal door. We all regarded Crapshoot in a positive manner as we passed him: a sap on the leg or the shoulder, a punch in the arm, and a compliment for a job well done. Crapshoot had an imitation grin on his face, but otherwise closed eyes that were so glad to be done fencing with a demon for the last 20 minutes.

A cartoon I did in honor of Crapshoot’s breach through a vault door. It depicts him standing with welders leathers and mask (A-TM) offering to assist our 2-Troop with their share of the breach.

Those were the days of the inception of the Hardened Deeply-Buried Targets (HDBT) problems. The target set that included hunting and accessing nuclear weapons cached in deep underground structures was a unique one, and we had to invent a way to cope with approaching and destroying such threats.

With already full plates on our hands, the HDBT problem was a heaping ladleful of mashed potatoes that started to flow over the edges of those plates. I distinctly remember thinking of my brothers and me as engines that the unit kept trying to put bigger and bigger transmissions on. And when the transmissions weren’t spinning fast enough they just kept trying to soup-up that same engine time and time again — eventually, that engine is going to throw a rod and blow!