The following is a true story but some names have been changed to protect the ego and reputation of one Navy SEAL in particular. I’ll just call him “Don” (From SEAL TEAM FIVE).
The high-pitched screaming woke me up from a dead man’s sleep. “There’s a fucking bug in my ear!” the Don yelled. “AAAAAHHHHH!” “GET THIS FUCKING THING OUT OF MY EAR!!!”
I was still pretty damn tired from my 20 mile ruck hump the day earlier, and I ignored the screaming (among muffled comments like “shut up Don” from other teammates spread out in our tactical LUP (Lay Up Point).
I quickly fell back asleep thinking, “The SEAL doc will take care of him…”. Of course this was after I pulled my wool cap down over my own ears, I sure as hell didn’t want the same fate as Don. Whatever the hell was going on he was obviously terrified and in pain and I slept soundly through the continued screaming—thank goodness for the SEAL HM (Doc) I thought.
To my discomfort I was awakened again about five minutes later, this time to an angry exchange.
SEAL Doc-“Don, shut up dude there’s nothing in your ear. Quit being a pussy”.
Don-“Screw you, AHHHHH! I’m going to kill you if you don’t get it out! There is a damn bug in my ear!
A few hours later we were sipping coffee and wondering how Don was making out now that they shipped him off to the local med clinic. There was lots of talk about him losing his mind and whispers around the camp about the made up bug that was all in his mind. It was our last day and we were breaking down camp and had plenty of time for banter.
A Note on Cussing- cuss (k s) Informal. intr. & tr.v. cussed, cuss·ing, cuss·es. To curse or curse at. n. 1. A curse. 2. An odd or perverse person or creature.
SEALs swear like the sailors they are. This is thankfully done mostly amongst themselves and behind closed doors. Fucking usually precedes everything. It’s not, “Hand Me the Pen”, it’s, “Hand me the Fucking Pen”…”Fucking this and fucking that”. I have also hung around enough USASOC, AFSOC and MARSOC guys to know that this is common among us all. Cut from the same cloth and all I guess…..
Five hours later
Don was back in camp. He explained to us that the doctor’s initial pass with view scope revealed continued disbelief. “Son, there’s nothing in there” said the Doctor. “Doc, it’s there…AHHH!”, then screamed again as the Pill Bug tunneled deeper. His ear drum was punctured. Don would most likely use this excuse to get out of any future diving ops for the next few months. Bastard.
One of the SEAL Docs, Will Cronan, was explaining to us that Don was clearly suffering from some mental disorder that could only be cured with cold beer and pussy. I asked Will, “how’s your poison oak?”. He turned red and replied “Fuck you Webb” and then starting itching his ass in pain. Will and others had made fun of my poison oak “blocker” container earlier and my rigorous application of this liquid to my entire body daily. Note: I look at poison oak and it leaps onto my skin.
Will gave me the most shit for it and it backfired on him. Ironically, someone had spread poison oak oil onto the porta pottie (required at Camp Pend.) toilet seat he had used. Fast forward a few days later and Will had a perfect toilet seat ring of burning poison oak on his ass. He wasn’t afraid to share this with us with frequent ass baring and shouts of, “pull your pants up man that’s nasty business”, from the other SEALs. I was taking pleasure in the fact that he was suffering greatly. Will would years later pay a visit to my father at his house in Jackson Hole WY. Will started a fight, offended two neighbors, and his friend crapped himself (disclaimer: his friend was not a SEAL) while passed out on my dad’s kitchen floor; don’t ask me how he got there. Sorry for the distraction, this whole episode is another story entirely. It should be noted, to this day my father will not let any of my SEAL buddies visit his because of that incident and the smell of a grown man pooping himself and laying in it for 8 hours. Thanks again Will.
The bug had burrowed and busted through Don’s ear drum and into the Eustachian tube.
Don explained to the group of west coast SQT’ers (SEAL Qualification Training) that they brought a special device to peer deep into his ear canal and finally found the culprit. Roly Poly AKA Pill Bug. The Doctor apologized for not believing him. They had to suck it out of his ear and gave it to him to keep. He showed us the bug in a clear film case. He obviously brought this souvenir back to dispel any questions of his sanity. It was the largest pill bug I’ve seen to date. It reminded me of the Star Trek’s “Wrath of Khan” worm scene below.
Habitat and Distribution: Pill bugs are common invertebrates that are found in many biomes around the world, including temperate forests, rainforests, grasslands and Don’s ear. They prefer moist areas (ears), often living in soil and under decaying leaves, rocks, and dead logs.
Life Cycle: A pill bug begins its life as a tiny egg. The young pill bug looks almost like a miniature adult. As it grows, it molts (sheds its old, outgrown exoskeleton) 4 to 5 times.
Anatomy: Pill bugs are covered by a hard exoskeleton (also called the cuticle) made from chitin. They have three basic body parts, the head (which is fused to the first segment of the thorax), the thorax (the 7 segments of the thorax that are not fused to the head are called the pereon), and the abdomen (which is also called the pleon). Pill bugs have 7 pairs of jointed legs and 2 pairs of antennae (but one pair is barely visible). The antennae, mouth and eyes are located on the head. A pair of abdominal uropods are at the posterior end of the pill bug, but only the terminal exopods are visible from the top of the pill bug. Pill bugs are less than an inch long.
Diet: Pill bugs eat decaying plants and animals and some living plants & Navy SEALs.
Predators: Pill bugs are eaten by many animals. Their main protection is rolling into an armored ball or hiding in human and animal ears.
Classification: Kingdom Animalia (animals), Phylum Arthropoda, Subphylum Crustacea, Class Malacostraca, Order Isopoda (isopods), Family Armadillidiidae, Genus Armadillidium, Oniscus, etc. Many species, including A. vulgare (the common pillbug).
This was by far the Biggest Roly Poly I have seen to this day. I swear this bug was mixing protein shakes after a Roly Poly version of Cross Fit.
Sleep tight and protect those ears when camping. Lots of critters would like a warm hole to snuggle up in.
“The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday”