Some of the SOFREP regulars may have heard this one before but it’s a class nugget and a tall tale told to me, a young wide-eyed newbie, at the parachute riggers loft at SEAL Team Three by Jerry.
Lots of black magic rumors floated around about Jerry M at Team 3. “I heard he used to have a hollow heel in his combat boot for a bump of coke,” one new guy whispered to me as Jerry was digging in to tell us yet another strange tale from the Teams of yesteryear.
Side note: Jerry was both a master of stories and pranks. He once slipped a tin foil-wrapped black dildo into his friend’s carry-on bag at JFK. The friend profusely denied ownership which only got him to secondary inspection.
That’s the kind of stuff he pulled routinely. Check six with Jerry! Ok, on to his story.
“Alright fellas, want to hear a good one?” Of course, we did. I personally couldn’t get enough and used to love going up to the second deck of the training cell to hear some of warrant “half-ass” Jerry’s stories about Nam. His nickname was earned by his taking a frag grenade to the ass in the jungle. I think it’s safe to say Charlie got it just as bad or worse.
So no shit there I was, standing in the air loft while Jerry started recounting his tale.
They were doing SDV-2 (aka SEAL Delivery vehicle…or mini-subs) work off the coast of Panama. The submarine came to a depth of 30, 50ft? Can’t remember but it was shallow enough to do a diver-free ascent to the surface to run a trunk line so they could shuffle gear to the surface. The sub is a little like an underwater airplane, or shark. It has to keep moving to breathe aka maintain a steady state.
The visibility was like an aquarium: you could see hundreds of feet up. I guess Jerry spotted a small panga boat hull and decided to have some fun. He swam up the trunk line to the surface, slowly blowing bubbles out as his lungs expanded under reduced pressure. Don’t do that and your lungs will burst… it won’t be pretty.
So up pops Jerry. He turns to face two white-faced Panamanians in a fishing panga who are by now starting to make religious gestures and grasping onto their Jesus necklaces like their lives depend on it. Hell, if they knew Jerry, they’d be even more concerned with the Almighty’s judgment.
Jerry, pushing his mask up on his forehead, asks, “¿Qué tan lejos aterrizar?”… How far to land?
The young panga captain replies, “Dios mío. 50 millas.”
Jerry thanked them, pulled his mask on, and submerged below the surface.
I can only imagine the stories these two fishermen told back at their village.
Jerry died in Iraq as a legendary contractor for various three-letter agencies.
But, his legend lives on, on the REP.
This article was originally published in December 2020.