So you wanna be a frogman?

Be careful what you wish for.

Sometimes sleeping like a baby means waking up and crying every two minutes.

The men who gravitate to become First Phase instructors are among the most physically fit people on the planet. They see themselves as guardians of the gate, and they are there to punish and bring the pain. They are the most feared, meanest, ugliest, most physically conditioned guys you’ll ever meet. We had eight instructors for First Phase, but four of them comprised the A-list, the ones who would be a constant abrasive presence in our lives until we either made it on to Second Phase or rang that damned brass bell.

Instructor Kowalski was a monster of a guy, 6′ 4″, pushing 300 pounds and all of it muscle and bone. 

Instructor O’Reilly, a menacing Irishman with strawberry blond hair, 6′ 3″ and completely ripped, looked like he was carved out of a freaking piece of granite. 

Instructor Buchanan was slightly younger and smaller, with a more average build, but he had a cocky swagger and the excellent conditioning to back it up. He was a tremendous athlete and mean as hell.

Finally, there was Instructor Shoulin.

In Greek mythology Nemesis was the spirit of divine retribution against those who offended the gods. Nemesis was a goddess without remorse, a deity whose sole motivating force was exacting vengeance. In modern usage, the word has come to mean “archenemy.” Sherlock Holmes had his Moriarty; Superman had his Lex Luthor. 

In BUD/S, I had Instructor Shoulin.

I never knew Instructor Shoulin’s first name. He was a small guy, Norwegian, with ice-blue eyes and an ice-cold heart. He was all business. Of the four he had perhaps the least imposing appearance, at least superficially — and appearances most definitely are deceiving. All our instructors were incredibly tough on us, but if they were demons from hell, as far as I was concerned, Instructor Shoulin was Satan himself.

I would learn about Instructor Shoulin in time. Today it was Instructor Buchanan who gave us our initiation. Shirtless, cut like a jungle tiger, he stood on his four-foot podium looking down at us, ready to stomp us all, his vantage point ensuring that any weakness would be immediately identified and dealt with accordingly. 

Then it started. First evolution, as they call it, was grinder PT, and he truly brought the pain: two hours of grueling punishment. 

“Push-ups! Are you ready?” 

“Hooyah!” 

Why Navy SEAL Training Sucks So Good

Read Next: Why Navy SEAL Training Sucks So Good

“ONE! TWO! THREE! FOUR!”

After we passed a hundred I started to shake. I couldn’t support my own body weight; my arms were on fire and giving out. 

“On your feet … On your back … Push-ups! Ready? Begin! ONE! TWO! … Flutter kicks, are you ready? ONE! TWO! THREE! … ONE HUNDRED FIVE! ONE HUNDRED SIX! …” 

I immediately stood out as a weak link. I kept falling behind in the cadence. All eight of our First Phase instructors were there to welcome us, and within minutes I had arrived at the very top of all their shit lists. It wasn’t just my physical condition. A lot of my classmates had come right from boot camp. Coming in as a fleet guy, I had a bit of seniority—and they really don’t like guys with a regular-navy mentality. It’s culture clash, and they give fleet guys a little bit of extra business. 

Between my fleet background and my subpar physical shape, I was the one out of two hundred who stood out like a turd in a punchbowl. With our last names neatly stenciled on our white shirts, they knew exactly who we all were, and all I kept hearing was our instructors shouting my name in conjunction with obscenities. 

“Webb, you fucking piece of stinking dog shit! How the fuck did you make it through the door? If you look up weakness in the dictionary, they have a picture of you next to the text!…” 

Soon I couldn’t even tell what evolution I was supposed to be on. 

I remember hearing “Hit the surf zone!” multiple times. Hitting the surf zone involved running about 500 yards out of the compound and down onto the beach, getting completely wet and sandy (and if the instructors found a dry spot, you were back down there immediately to do the job right), and then sprinting back to the grinder for more punishment. The ice-cold Pacific ocean was actually a welcome break—but soon I was shivering uncontrollably and had sand in places I never thought possible. 

Off to the side of the grinder, there was a podium that held a roster book in which we signed up for remedial PT training sessions if we were so instructed. At the end of that first session, I was so instructed. I limped over to the podium and wrote my name in the book. Each morning I would now have to finish wolfing my breakfast earlier than everyone else and run back to start in on the remedial fitness training session and then join in on the regular evolutions with everyone else. 

Our day started at 5:00 A.M. on the beach with grueling PT and from there on was a never-ending endurance contest of both flesh and will. By the second week my hands were shredded. I developed two calluses on my left hand and three on my right, all five of them soon ripped off with a half-inch of flesh exposed from doing those wet and sandy push-ups on the beach. When the class corpsman applied tincture benzoate to seal the wounds and prevent infection, it felt like he was sticking a hot iron into each wound. I could barely stand up in the morning. My arms were aching. My body was in complete breakdown.

It didn’t matter: They would still single me out. I was marked. They have a saying in BUD/S training, “Don’t be that guy.” That guy is one the instructors pick on, the one who’s always on the receiving end of the worst punishment. Whatever you do, you do not want to be that guy. 

I was that guy.

The following four weeks were utter misery. Everyone in the class quickly came to know me by name, because it was the name our instructors typically called out to do an extra hundred push-ups before dismissing the class and allowing us to run across to the other side of the base for chow. It was humiliating, degrading, and painful. I would get up to FORTYTWO! and suddenly hear, “Webb, you piece of shit! Start over!” While this was going on, the rest of the class was forced to remain in the lean and rest (that is, push-up) position and participate in my wretchedness. I can still hear the plaintive sounds of Class 215 pleading with me, “Webb, for Chrissakes, do a hundred good ones so we can get the hell out of here!” 

It was terrible to see those guys suffer because I was so out of shape. I quickly learned that as a team you are capable of great feats—but ultimately you are only as strong as your weakest link. Unfortunately, the weakest link, in this case, was me.

To the standard PT routines we’d done in our entrance physical (two thousand push-ups, one thousand flutter kicks, et al.), our instructors now added new punishments: a 1-mile base swim in under seventy minutes, then another 1-mile base swim in under fifty minutes, then a 1.5-mile ocean swim in under seventy-five minutes, working up to a 2-mile ocean swim, which was the standard for the rest of BUD/S. A 50-meter underwater swim. A 4-mile timed run, in boots and pants on soft sand, in thirty-two minutes or less. 

Those 4-mile conditioning runs just about killed me. Since we were running 5 miles to and from breakfast, 5 more for lunch and 5 more for dinner, we were now running a total of 19 miles a day. On the 4-mile I kept ending up in the back of the pack, aka the Goon Squad. Being in the Goon Squad meant that while everyone else was stretching, drinking water, and having a brief recoup, we few unfortunate dregs were getting destroyed doing bear crawls up and down the beach and push-ups in the surf. Day after day, I got Goon-Squaded every time. Soon I learned to push myself so hard in that damn conditioning run that I would throw up as I ran. Eventually I began just making the cutoff to keep myself out of the Goon Squad.

And then, of course, there was the dreaded O-course, in 15 minutes or less. 

As I mentioned earlier, the BUD/S O-course was built for pain and suffering. It is one of the best-constructed obstacle courses in the world. In start-to-finish order, the course consists of the following:

Parallel bars. You shimmy along a set of steel tubes canted at an upward angle for 12 feet.

Tires. Multiple tires spread out that you have to step through rapidly.

Low wall. An eight-foot plywood wall you jump up and swing over.

High wall. This one is about double the height of the low wall; you use a thick rope to climb up and over.

Low barbed-wire crawl. Exactly what it sounds like: Stay low or hook skin.

100-foot-high cargo net. Climb up and over. 

Balance logs. You run along a series of rolling logs while keeping your balance (or trying to).

Hooyah logs. “Hooyah is the ultimate SEAL catchall word, meaning everything from “Yes, Instructor!” to “Oh, fuck!” to “Fuck you!” This is a pile of 3-foot logs that you step up and over while holding your hands up over your head.

Rope transfer. Climb up one rope, transfer to another, then slide down.

Dirty Name. Aptly named (yes, we actually called it Dirty Name), a double set of log beams: You jump up, grab the first log beam, and pull yourself up, then get to your feet and jump up and onto the higher log beam, swing around and over, and drop down to the sand. This station is a rib-breaker, which is how it got its name.

Weaver. Metal bars spaced about three feet apart and shaped like a shallow triangle. Weave over and under, all the way up, then down, and you’re out.

Burma bridge. Climb a 15-foot rope, then transition to an unstable rope bridge, cross the bridge, and slide down a second 15-foot rope on the other side.

Hooyah logs again.

Slide for Life. A four-story set of platforms with an angled rope that slopes down about 100 feet to the bottom. Climb up all platforms to the top, then mount the rope from the bottom with your legs wrapped around, hang with your arms, and worm your way down. Next, transition to an assault-style on top position (much quicker). Disrespect this one and you have broken bones, which happened constantly. Fall off and you have a good chance of getting medically disqualified from BUD/S. 

Rope swing. Grab the rope on the run and swing up, then let go at just the right moment to hop up and onto a high balance log beam.

Tires again.

Incline wall. Scoot up, slide over and down.

Spider wall. A high plywood-and-log wall you climb up and shimmy along sideways. Similar to rock climbing, it’s all about finger and toe strength. 

Vaults. A series of logs set at intervals: Jump up and over each one on your way to a sprint finish.

For the first few obstacles, I had no problem. Parallel bars, tires, low wall, high wall, barbed-wire crawl … I was doing great, or at least keeping up. The first obstacle that gave me trouble was the Weaver. It slowed me down, and by the time I got to the top of the Slide for Life I was whipped. Soon I found myself hanging on for dear life by my legs, four stories up and upside down. All my grip strength was gone, and my hands were burning from the torn calluses. We’ve had guys drop off that rope and break arms and legs. In a last-ditch effort not to fall, I hooked both elbows over the top of the rope and attempted to recover some grip strength. 

Within a few seconds Instructor Kowalski was screaming at me. “Webb, you big piece of shit!” (This was Instructor Kowalski’s habitual form of address for me.) “You have two seconds to let the fuck go of that rope with your fucking elbows, and you already used them up!” He ordered me to let go now and shimmy the hell down. 

I unhooked my elbows and continued to hang upside down by my legs, delaying the inevitable four-story fall. Oh, shit, I thought, this is going to hurt. A memory flashed through my mind of a hapkido class I’d taken when I was a kid, when we’d been taught the importance of knowing how to survive a fall. That memory, together with some dumb luck, saved me from getting too badly hurt. I let go, and a terrifying moment later I hit the ground like a sack of ready-mix concrete. 

I lay there in pain for a few seconds. 

Instructor Kowalski walked over, kicked me in the stomach, and said, “Hey, you alright?”

“Hooyah, Instructor Kowalski,” I managed to get out.

“Well then get your ass up and get going!” he yelled. 

I got my ass up and got going. 

When I had finished, one of the guys in the class said, “God, man, we all saw you fall from that thing, and we thought you were finished!” But I wasn’t, at least not yet. 

Our water skills training in First Phase were modeled on the experiences of the underwater demolition team (UDT) guys in World War II, who were the SEALs’ direct predecessors. These guys would swim ashore secretly, ahead of a troop landing, with nothing beyond their mask, fins, and snorkel but a demo knife and explosives, to scout out and blow up any obstacles that the enemy might have planted to prevent our flat-bottomed landing craft from coming ashore. In Second Phase we would get into more intensive water training, but for now they walked us through the basic skills of underwater demolition: breath-hold (no tanks), long underwater swims, underwater knot tying, and the like. The point was to get used to the water, push our limits, and realize that we could go a lot further than we thought we could go.

I’d done drown-proofing in Search and Rescue school; now I got it again, but ratcheted up a notch: Hands tied behind my back, feet tied together, tossed into a 20-foot dive tank, I had to survive for an hour doing various exercises like diving down and picking up objects on the bottom of the pool with my mouth. 

They had us do hydrographic surveys, another old-school remnant from World War II days when the UDT guys would swim in close to shore, gather as much data as they could, and put it into a hand-drawn map for the landing crews (or use it to blow things up). They lined up ten of us on the beach, spaced about 2 yards apart, and sent us walking out into the surf with small boards to write on. We jotted down data until we couldn’t touch bottom, and at that point we swam out with a lead line that we dropped down to take soundings as kept heading farther offshore, 12 feet, 15 feet, 20 feet, and on. Eventually we started diving down for obstacles in our lane, mapping out everything we could find, before returning to shore and putting all the data we’d collected into a hydrographic chart. 

If it sounds exacting and tedious, it was — only it came at the end of an incredibly long, brutally hard day when we were exhausted, ready to hit barracks and collapse. And we had to get each detailed chart exactly right, perfectly right, or the instructor would rip it up and send us back out into the night surf to do it over again. 

The water tests in First Phase were tough. We did an underwater breath-hold 50-meter swim, which went like this: We jumped into the pool feet first (we weren’t allowed to push off the wall), did a somersault, then went 50 meters down and back, holding our breath the whole way. Guys were popping up to the surface like goldfish corpses. Not that they had quit intentionally—they had just passed out.

Another water test was the underwater knot-tying trial. You submerge, tie your first knot, then wait for your instructor to inspect and approve it. Once your work is okayed, you go up to surface for a moment, catch a breath, then go down to tie the next knot, and on through a series of five knots in all.

Typically the instructor takes his time inspecting your knot, looking it over very slowly and methodically. Not because he needs to, but just to bust your balls. What he’s really doing is trying his best to force you to run out of air. This is exactly what happened to me — only with a twist.

Instructor Shoulin really had it in for me, so it should have come as no surprise when he came over to “support” the underwater knot-tie exercise and singled me out. “You’re in my lane, Webb,” he said. What he really meant was You’re mine now, I own you, you piece of shit.

But there was something about me that Instructor Shoulin didn’t know: I practically grew up underwater. I may have been a wreck physically and at the bottom of the heap in basic PT, but when it came to water skills, I felt I could do anything they threw at me. That attitude would get me in trouble later, but for the moment it served me pretty well. 

We dove down under, Instructor Shoulin on my tail like a shark tracking a baby seal. I tied my first knot. He started looking it over, real slow. He couldn’t find anything wrong with it, and I knew it, and he knew that I knew it—but that didn’t make any difference. He took forever, knowing there was nothing I could do but sit there and take it. 

Finally, he looked over and gave me the thumbs-up: This one’s okay, you can surface now. Only I didn’t head up to the surface. Instead, I methodically moved on and started tying my second knot. I didn’t dare look in his direction, but I sure wish I had. I’d love to know what the expression on his face looked like. 

After I finished the second knot and he had inspected it (more quickly this time) and approved it, I ignored his Okay, you can surface now gestures once again and went on, starting in on my third knot. 

That was it. Instructor Shoulin couldn’t hold out any longer — he went up to the surface to gasp for air. He was so pissed off. I had embarrassed him. I was pretty sure I’d pay for it, too.

By the fifth week of First Phase, I was a wreck: exhausted, humiliated, just about beaten into a corner. Then one afternoon, just a few days before Hell Week was to begin, it all came to a head.

Every afternoon we formed up in seven-man boat crews, grabbed our heavy rubber boats, threw them up on top of our heads, and ran with them to the beach to get tortured for a while. On this particular afternoon, we were on our way out to the beach when Instructor Shoulin called over to my team. “Webb, get over here.” 

Michelson, my boat crew leader, said, “Hey, what’s up, Instructor Shoulin? Where is he going?” 

“Don’t worry about Webb,” he replied. “Just go get your fucking boat ready.” I looked over and realized that O’Reilly, Buchanan, and Kowalski were all with him. Uh-oh. I peeled away from my boat crew and headed with them out to a section of beach where it was just us, alone: me and the four alpha instructors. 

“Drop, Webb,” said one of them. “Eight-counts, begin.” This was one of their favorite forms of punishment. The eight-count bodybuilder goes like this:

1. Start from a standing position.

2. Drop to a squat, hands on ground.

3. Push legs back to basic push-up position.

4. Execute a push-up.

5. Scissor-kick your legs apart.

6. Legs back together in push-up position.

7. Pull your legs up to your chest.

8. Jump back up to standing position.

They had me do a hundred of these babies, then took me through push-ups, flutter kicks, the whole works, and all the while they were shoveling sand in my face and yelling at me, all four of them, at the top of their lungs.

“You are a worthless piece of shit, Webb! Do you even know what a piece of shit you are? You are the biggest piece of shit we’ve ever seen! You’re weighing your whole class down. You are a one-man walking disaster. You are fucking it up for everyone else. You don’t belong here, you fleet piece of shit. Do you even know how badly you’re fucking this up, how much everyone wants you gone? You’re a disgrace, Webb. You’re garbage. You need to quit. Nobody wants you in Hell Week.”

And on and on for the next hour. It was beyond brutal. I could feel how intensely they all wanted me to get up, limp away, and go ring that goddam brass bell. 

The worst of it was, I knew they were right. There was a reason they were singling me out. I was physically out of shape, and that had been affecting the entire class, and that bothered me. In fact, this is something I’ve continued to be conscious of and careful about to this day: If you show up late, if you don’t have your gear together, or your facts together, or whatever shit it is you need to have together, then you are affecting the whole team. They were right, and it was a lesson I would never forget.

But if I was not physically as tough as I needed to be, I had one thing going for me. I was very tough mentally.

There is a common misperception that to make it through SEAL training you have to be a super athlete. Not so. In its purely physical requirements, the course is designed for the average athletic male to be able to make it through. What SEAL training really tests is your mental mettle. It is designed to push you mentally to the brink, over and over again, until you are hardened and able to take on any task with confidence, regardless of the odds—or until you break.

And I was not about to break.

My body at this point was nowhere near as conditioned as it would become in the months and years ahead, but mentally, I was ready for anything. That was the only reason I survived that hour on the beach. That was the only reason I made it through BUD/S.

People have asked if I ever thought about quitting during the SEAL training, if I ever had one of those dark-night-of-the-soul moments you hear about, those moments of piercing doubt and anguished uncertainty. The answer is Never—not once. Lying there facedown in the sand with these four hardcase psychopaths doing their level best to break me, something else happened instead: I got what we call a fire in the gut.

Of the four, it was Instructor Buchanan who was the most in my face. So I looked up at him, nailed him with the coldest stare I could muster, and said, “Fuck you, Instructor Buchanan—fuck you. The only way you’re getting me out of here is in a body bag.”

He glared back at me, gauging me, weighing my intent. I meant every word, and he knew it. He took one step back and jerked his head, gesturing up the beach toward where my boat crew was prepped and waiting. “Get back to your crew” was what he said, but the way he said it made it sound like “The hell with you.”

From that point on, my experience in BUD/S completely turned the corner. Those instructors left me alone. When Hell Week started a few days later, it felt almost anticlimactic. Welcome to my world, I felt like saying to the other guys. I’d been playing these games throughout First Phase. 

There is a saying in BUD/S: Ideally, you want to become the gray man. In other words, you become invisible, nobody notices you, because you do everything so perfectly that you never stand out. 

I had gone from that guy to gray man.

This is not to say that Hell Week was easy. It was as brutal as all the legends say, and then some. From the morning it began, my classmates started winking out like cheap light bulbs. 

The first night, they disoriented us: We were up all night, and that was only the beginning because we were going to be up for five days and nights straight. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were the worst. If you were hanging in there by Tuesday night you didn’t have a lot of company, because most of the guys had already quit. They really brought on the cold and the punishment those first three days. 

They had us do something they called steel pier. At two in the morning, they walked us into the ocean and threw us on a steel barge, where we lay half-naked, our body temperature dropping to hypothermia levels. Then, just as didn’t think we could hang on to consciousness any longer, they had us get up, jump in the water — and then climb out and get back on the pier. This went on for four hours. It was pure misery. That first night we heard the air broken by the doleful sound of that brass bell ringing through the dark, again and again. 

One way they kept us busy during Hell Week was having us do log runs. Seven of us would lift a huge log — essentially a telephone pole — and heft it up onto our shoulders, carrying it while being force-marched at a steady trot, sloshing through the surf, instructors right behind us yelling at us. After 6 miles through the surf line, we put down our telephone pole, drank a little water, then picked the log back up, turned around, and headed back the way we’d come, back six miles … then dropped the log, grabbed our rubber boat and swung it up onto our heads, and headed the other way again. Another six miles, up and back, and so on, for about eight hours. There was one especially huge log, dubbed Ole Misery by past BUD/S students, that had the words MISERY LOVES COMPANY carved into its side. This thing was an evil creature worthy of Stephen King’s pen: One class stole it and tried to torch it, but it refused to burn. It’s probably still there today, torturing each new class of BUD/S students.

As hard as this all sounds, the physical punishment wasn’t the worst of it. It was the psychological torture that broke so many of us and kept that brass bell ringing. We never knew what they were going to pitch at us next. The whole five days were designed to throw us off balance and keep us off balance, and it worked.

On day 3 they put us in a tent to get some sleep. We laid our weary bones down on thin, uncomfortable cots, but to us, it felt like heaven. We drifted off—until about fifty minutes later, when my sleep was interrupted by the most unwelcome sound I’ve ever heard. I don’t know if I had been dreaming or was just immersed in the heaven of inky blackness, but all of a sudden lights were going on and I was hearing a voice shouting at me.

“Up, Webb, time to go hit the surf!”

We had just slipped into REM sleep when they woke us back up to start in on us all over again. 

I’ll tell you what it’s like when you have just gone through three solid days of physical punishment, around the clock, and then you finally have the chance to get to sleep, only to be yanked out of it again less than an hour later: It’s torture, and that is no figure of speech. In fact, this is one of the most common techniques used in the actual torture of prisoners of war.

I opened my eyes. Guys around me were completely disoriented, jerking upright and staring around desperately, literally not knowing where they were or what the hell was going on. Next thing we knew we were all running out to go lie on the freezing cold beach, right down in the surf, faces toward the ocean so the waves could wash sand and salt water into our eyes and noses and mouths. I’ve never had much problem with the cold, but that waking episode was hard. 

The worst, though, was the chow runs. In the same way that they gave us just enough sleep to survive, they pared the experience of eating down to the bare minimum.

We not only ran for miles on the beach with those big rubber boats on our heads. We carried them everywhere. Some of the guys got cuts, scars, or bald spots from carrying those damned boats. We even had to carry them to chow. When it was time to eat, they raced us to the mess hall, where they had us run around a small building, carrying our boats, while they let a few crews at a time in to eat. I remember the feeling of my neck being jackhammered, my head in pain. Finally, it would come our crew’s turn to eat: we would quickly put our boat down, run inside, shovel down our food, then run out again. 

Sometimes when we got back outside, we realized we were a few people short. What happened? we wondered. Those guys never showed up again. They were out. The instructors reshuffled the crew to compensate, according to our height, and off we went again. 

Thursday night we did an exercise they called Round the World: Each boat crew paddled its boat out some 20 miles to a checkpoint and then back. It took about eight hours and was all done, of course, at night.

We ran out into the surf, carrying that damned boat on our heads, then heaved it into the water, clambered in, and started paddling like crazy. Hours later, we were still paddling. I looked around and realized that everyone was falling asleep. I whacked a few guys with my paddle and hissed, “Hey! You guys! Stay awake!” 

By the time we finished, it was deep in the middle of the night. We were the first boat to reach shore, and from out of the gloom came a voice: “Hey! Get over here!” It was Instructor Shoulin. He stepped into our boat like an evil George Washington crossing some Delaware in hell and told us to paddle him out to meet up with the rest of the guys, who were still coming in.

Suddenly I heard Instructor O’Reilly’s voice floating in from the direction of the shore. “Webb,” it growled, “if you dump boat right now I’ll secure you from Hell Week.” 

What he was saying was, if I would dump Instructor Shoulin into the icy cold water right then and there, fully clothed, then he would give me an immediate free pass out of the rest of Hell Week.

Instructor Shoulin’s head swiveled and he stared at me. I didn’t say a word, but my face said it all: Let’s dump this fucker! Instructor Shoulin said in a terrifyingly quiet voice, “Webb, you sonofabitch, if you dump me, you will pay.” 

I grinned. Looking straight at him, I muttered, “Let’s do it!” loud enough for the whole team to hear it. The team was too afraid of him, so it didn’t happen — but Instructor Shoulin saw it in my eyes. I was ready to dunk him. I wonder what would have happened if we had. 

Friday they put us in a fenced-off area on the beach they had filled with seawater. They called this seawater swamp the demo pit, but it was nothing more than a muddy bog strung with rope bridges. We stood there, exhausted, caked head to toe with mud, barely able to stay on our feet — and they started firing grenade simulators at us. 

At this point we were zombies. I don’t know how fast I moved, or even if I moved at all. I know some guys just dropped into the bog and lay there. 

Then they ran us up to the compound and lined us up on the grinder, and someone said, “Class 215, secured from Hell Week.”

Secured. Secured?

It was unreal. We had been suffering so badly it felt like time had slowed down and stretched out until the punishment was a raw experience of eternity. It was like the ancient Greeks’ concept of hell, Sisyphus pushing a heavy stone up a hill till it was near the top, when it would roll down again and he would have to start over from the bottom, continuing the process forever. Suddenly it was over and we were being handed our brown shirts. 

Secured.

I’ll never forget the feeling of putting on that dry, warm, clean T-shirt. I ate an entire pizza, drank a quart of Gatorade, called my parents to tell them I’d made it through Hell Week, and crashed into deep sleep. At some point, I came to long enough to pee in the empty Gatorade bottle before falling back asleep again. I woke up two days later.

Of our original 220, we were now down to 70. 

So you wanna be a frogman?

Think long and hard about it.

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