Out on America’s West Coast, just to the left of California about 60 miles, lies a 21-nautical-mile-long geographical wasteland known as San Clemente Island.  It makes up the southern tip of California’s Channel Islands, making it the metaphorical hell to the comparable heaven of Santa Catalina Island, which is located a bit to the northeast.

While San Clemente might be considered beautiful and a piece of untamed nature to some, to the indoctrinated it is an infernal hellscape, populated by more foxes and feral goats than humans, and the scene of unspeakable tortuous training meted out by Navy SEAL instructors during Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) Third Phase.

They call it “The Rock”

Ok, I might be employing some hyperbole here, but in the mind of the typical BUD/S student, still trapped in the almost-completed 26-week training program, San Clemente Island represents the last big hurdle of SEAL training.  It also represents a voyage into the heart of darkness, where BUD/S instructors have free reign over the trainees, unbridled by the rules of civilized society found back on the mainland, at the BUD/S compound.

There ain’t no Navy brass to save you on San Clemente Island.