One of the myriads of very cool things about time spent with Delta is the fact that we often had opportunities to train with our elite naval counterpart— the venerable SEAL Team Six. Such was the case with a training event we executed in the jungles of South America. A group of six brothers from SEAL Team Six linked up with us at Ft. Bragg, NC, cross-loaded themselves among our assault teams and deployed with us to the Guyanas. My four-man assault team welcomed Scott K.
I held a pallid reservation, if any, that Scotty K. was arguably the “baddest” SEAL in all of ST-6.
Usually, someone as badass as Scotty doesn’t have to be personable, polite, pleasant, or any p-word at all because they are just… badass. If someone didn’t like their demeanor it didn’t matter because they’re badass and could crush you sooner than worry about your delicate feelings.
Scotty wasn’t at all like that; he was badass plus all the p-words to boot. It was a matter of fact that after the jungle training bout we all secretly flicked away a tiny tear at the reality of Scott flying back home to VA. True but, in that we two organizations were counterparts, we saw each other again and again over the years.
We began in the jungle with a couple of “light” training days to ford ourselves a period of acclimatization… a notion that I found laughable, as I never once felt accustomed to the heat and humidity our entire stay there. The jungle climate… you just put on and wore it like a down jacket that you just couldn’t strip off unless you were underwater in the river nearby. I was legitimately embarrassed by my inability to shake it off but just couldn’t; I tried to play it off the best I could.
“AYE, SHE’S A RRREAL SCORCHER OAT THERE TAH-DEE!” I often announced loudly in a thick, r-rolling Scottish accent for a chuckle in unison.
“RRRIGHT, SCOTTIE??” I added looking at Scott K. Intently for a mandatory response.
“Yup, gonna be another warm one, geo.”
Food was an issue there. All of us would have rather had American military field rations, but our meals were contracted out to some local witch doctor nearby. He wasn’t a chef or even a cook, he was just… some guy and his hired hands. All the food came out of the economy, none of it even recognizable carcasses where the meat was concerned. The preparation was right on par with the rest of the scenario: the filthy cook, his even filthier hired hands, the quintessential filthiness of the cooking utensils.
The near-daily staple was a culinary recipe, a specialty of the some-guy chef who set up his kitchen in a dirt depression with a bamboo awning overhead. We called the dish “Dog-bone Flechette Stew.” It was a viscous foul-tasting broth with a degree of animal flesh foreign to our eyes, and hundreds of small sharp bone fragments all throughout.
“Gawd… this $hite again? What is the name of the Cordon Bleu is this even?”
“I don’t know how but I’ve been hearing fewer and fewer dogs barking at night lately.”
“I simply MUST have his technique for smashing the dog-$hite out of these bones… and then leaving them in there — get the man a colander!!!
“Has anyone watched that some-guy prepare this $hit?”
“Yeah, he puts a dog in a big pot, tosses in a grenade, slams the lid down and sits on it — presto, dog-bone flechette stew!”
It was both comical and pathetic to watch the brothers eating, all leaning forward at the waist to let the bone frags spit and drop from their mouths. We learned quickly to pile into our assault boats and motor across the main river to a village to buy mostly bread and some canned goods. A few of the brothers there had gone into a restaurant (of sorts) to try for a warm meal.
“How was the chow??” We queried.
“Same $hite, only five miles farther south than the other chow that sucks…”
The accommodations were scant, and the food was an issue, but the training was great. We spent most of our time in the main river and tributaries practicing all day long without breaks, as nobody wanted to belly up to the cafeteria table.
Our “dormitory” was an open-air pavilion right on the riverbank. We drank from the river, bathed in it, the kitchen cooked with its water, and we trained like madmen in it. There was considerable convenience in waking up, dunking in the river, then motoring off in our boats to train with CH-47 helicopters.
Standing in the waist-high water on a morning while brushing teeth, one of our SEAL bros “locked out a swimmer,” that is, he defecated a fecal log which promptly floated to the surface and slowly drifted by. Suddenly teeth brushing became a far less than sundry prospect.
“Hey, you dick… we’re brushing our teeth here… the kitchen cooks with this water!” my bro reprimanded.
I was typically on the lighter side: “Sailor, you neglected to report to the Boat Captain that you were locking out swimmers and report as each swimmer left the trunk (essential submarine dialogue for ingress and egress from the escape hatch/trunk).” We both stepped up-river a few feet for cleaner water to brush with.
One day we ran our boats slowly up a tributary and landed a distance away from a live-fire tactical target set up for us previously. We spread ourselves in a security perimeter and gathered an intelligence update over the satellite radio regarding our target. Our troop leader decided he wanted to send up a swim team to put eyes on the target.
“Scotty… Geo… get it on; you’re going to conduct objective reconnaissance.” Scotty was picked because he was a (badass) SEAL; I was picked (on) because I came to Delta from the Army’s Combat Diver school. It was all good though, because Scotty was hooah, I was hooah, and tactical reconnaissance (Tac Recon) was definitely hooah!
Scotty to geo: “Hooah?”
geo nodding to Scotty: “Hooah!”
Scotty and I slipped on our swim fins and into the water like slimy bilge rats and, facing each other, we kicked and did a modified sidestroke, hugging the bank of the river. We huffed and puffed for just around 20 minutes… and, peering over Scotty’s shoulder into the jungle I saw blinking eyes looking back at me — several pairs of blinking eyes.
It was the brothers. Scotty and I had not made so much as five feet of forward progress up the river; the current was more than a full knot per hour — too strong for swimmers. This exercise in futility needed to end.
“Geo, do you feel any particularly strong desire to impress me today?”
“Well… sort of, yeah… but then honestly no, no not really, Scott.”
“Well I feel no desire to impress you at all, so what say we get out of the water and abort this nonsense.”
We ended up assaulting that live-fire target going full Omaha Beach Dog Red on their ass. Great was the concept of no enemy firing back on us or we would have been slaughtered like… guys at Omaha Beach (Dog Red).
Stunning was the sight of my SAW gunner who stepped off of the starboard gunwale (right side of the boat) into water over his head. Already on shore, I turned and jumped back in the boat to enter the water where he had gone under. Just then I saw him marching out of the river onto the shore like a juggernaut. He had sunk to the bottom and just walked his way out of the river.
That night we tooled quietly to a thick jungle shore to rally for the rest of the night and catch sleep. Just as I stepped off the bow of the boat, pulled by the hand by one of my brothers… behind me came the single crack of an accidental assault rifle discharge followed by some chuckles.
We two at the bow were petrified:
“Who just lost their wall locker in the Unit?” floated a whisper.
“I don’t know… I’ve never heard those two things together… ever: an accidental gunshot followed by laughing?”
As “luck” would have it, it was one of our SEAL brothers who had the accident. Judging by the giggles, I’d say they don’t view the event with the same gravity as Delta bros do. Even away from the eyes of authority, a Delta man is highly likely to turn himself in. If not, the others will handle it. It was a SEAL situation; not one for us to judge, so we remained silent.
At the end of all accounts, the trip had shown great merit toward the joint training of boats and helicopters together in water operations. As for the rest of it; well, clearly it had been nothing more than an excuse for Delta and ST-6 to grip, grin, and rub elbows. None of has had complaints in any regard, but we all also just really wanted a burger — one with no bone flechettes!
Let the record show that SEALs are like… seals… in the water: right at home and the best at what they do. What you get with SEALs and Delta is a man who is not afraid of Jack-$hite on land, and with a SEAL, now you have one who is not afraid of jack-$hite in the water either. Delta and SEALs; together again for the first time — oh, what a time!
By Almighty God and with honor,