I was assigned to the U.S Army’s Special Forces Combat Dive Academy in late 1980 when we got our first two Navy SEAL brothers. Both men were from the vaunted DEVGRU (also known as SEAL Team Six). If you were to look for complaints from the core of us Green Beret pipe-hitters you wouldn’t find any. As much as anyone were to expect otherwise, we all got along swimmingly (pun), with zero personal or professional altercations taking place.
They were both interesting fellows were you to ask me; of that, I did fancy them. One of those — Big Jim — lived in a sailboat at the marina. It was a simple sloop in which he didn’t mind a mere modicum living in despite the heat, the mosquitos, absence of amenities, and the rocking sea. He did manifest a modest melancholy mood over his misfortune that none of the female company he coaxed back to his vessel would stay any appreciable amount of time in what they called “the dungeon.” In that, he did perceive a disservice in his otherwise seaworthy craft.
He had odd off-time jobs that were usually of construction in nature. Driving past a nonspecific construction job along the main road could quite possibly reveal the shirtless and hardhat clad Big Jim swinging a 12-lb sledgehammer against a concrete structure:
“BIG JIM!! GET YOU SOME, BROTHER!”
“GEO! MY MAN!”
“WHEN YOOZ COMING BACK TO YOUR DAY JOB, JIM?”
“IDK, GEO… LET’S DO LUNCH!”
The other SEAL brother, Jack P. P., or Pee-Pee Jack as we called him, had a thunderous herd of seven kids. The question to a Blue SEAL upon seeing the band of brothers and sisters was:
“Christ, Chief… when did you have time to ever… “have”… all of these? They were all pretty close in age what with Pee-Pee Jack having wham, bam, thank-you Ma’amed them all at Grand Prix pitstop of pace. I loved them. I would see them descending on me and voluntarily lay down on the ground to let them dog pile on top of me. The weight was simply crushing, ah… but kids are never more than a feather to me.
He owned a boat that he kept down at the same marina as Big Jim’s chick-less floating dungeon sloop. The boat was a… ahem… $50,000 boat. It was indeed. It was the most head scratchin’-est I ever did see. We all wondered how on Earth… and with seven kids… Though, we left that subject alone, its peculiarity was not at all ‘gram stain negative‘ for the presence of jokes.
“Headed out in the boat this weekend, Pee-Pee?”
“Yessirree I am!”
“Headed up to Miami to pick up another bulk shipment of green? Watch out for Crockett and Tubbs!”
Those two SEAL brothers soon went back to Navy assignments. Two new replacements came in; this time from West Coast Teams. One was Chip, easily one of the coolest guys I have ever met. The other was SEAL Brian Leveaux. He was quiet and a loner. Some of the cadre bubbas didn’t get along well with him. Chip didn’t even get along with him.
He was not a team player — a loner as I said before. He did his essential duties but otherwise shied away from all of us. He was from Trinidad, I believe, and could run like none of us could. That put him at least in a position to lead some of the morning Physical Training sessions.
He liked to spearfish and every chance he got he headed to Fleming Key Cut just a couple of 250 feet from the school. That was a bit of bad news for the school because being the loner that he was meant he was diving solo — perhaps the pinnacle “do not do” rule of diving per the dogma of the Special Forces Combat Diver Academy.
It was problematic for the curriculum. On one hand, we were so strict with our two-man-assigned dive teams that we levied stiff punishments to any team which was caught farther than an arm’s reach away. Some dive teams were so terrified of being caught too far away that they literally held hands like sweethearts. I got it and they didn’t give a shit. I rather admired their resolve.
And then on the other hand, after a hellish morning in the swimming pool, the students would see Brian Leveaux at lunchtime trodding off to dive for grouper in the Fleming Cut — alone!
“It sends a mixed message to the students,” one cadre suggested.
“That’s really sweet of you but the message is not mixed at all — it’s flat out wrong!” insisted another.
Our First Sergeant who was listening in opened the lounge door and hollered out for Brian Leveaux to come in. When Brian stepped in the 1st SGT started right in:
“Hey look, Leveaux… no more diving alone during duty hours. If you dive alone just one more time — that’s a one followed by no zeros — then your ass is fired. No questions, alibis, caveats, ifs, ands, or buts. The only but is going to be your butt doing the duffle-bag-drag back to Fleet. Understand?”
“Good — get out!”
The 1st SGT billet is a strange position; it is sort of an un-position with a rather ill-defined job description. It is a sort of middle management place between the almighty Sergeant Major and the men. Since it was such a gray position it sure helped to have a welterweight badass holding the title, and that is precisely what we had with us in Key West that year.
Whether arrogant was actually ever an accurate description of Brian’s personality… that was a matter of individual opinion. As for me, I didn’t readily subscribe to the notion that Brian was arrogant. I rather surrendered to the whim that there was always at least one guy that nobody liked in every organization, and in ours, Brian should be that guy.
Brian actually got out of the service and stayed right there in Key West doing his thing. He had a couple of strange gigs going on that nobody believed or cared about. He took a local bride in Key West, a woman that came complete with a teenage daughter. That scrap of news was the biggest shoulder shrug of the year for us.
“Meh, look at it this way: now maybe Leveaux can finally have a dive buddy.”
It must have been a real hoot to go from no wife or kids ever to wife and an already teenage daughter. It’s not that the learning curve would be steep, it’s that there was NO learning curve at all! I mean teenagers can come with significant challenges ranging from wanting to join the boy’s high school wrestling team to being single and pregnant, hooked on crack, running with scissors — all sorts of calamitous… calamities!
Pa-pa Brian Leveaux’s new shake-n-bake daughter didn’t wrestle, never ran with scissors, and wasn’t pregnant… but she was hooked on crack and had a pusher. Her career potential featuring that combination didn’t look promising and Brian, being the SEAL tough guy that he was, decided to take matters into his own hands:
“Daughter, there will be no more of this crack and pusher nonsense. I want the name of that crummy so-and-so, and I want it right this minute, young lady!”
Brian rolled up his sleeves and loosened his double Windsored tie.
“I’ll be going over to show that brigand a thing or two and give him a piece of my mind. I’ll thrash that ragamuffin good and show him who’s who, by golly! I’ll give that hoodlum a taste of the wrath of the Leveaux family tree, I will!”
Armed with the Miami address to the apartment of the Mafioso drug pusher, Brian Leveaux slammed the door to his 2017 Ford Fusion and sped… well, he sort of just… drove off. During the three-hour drive to Miami Brian fumed, swore oaths, and pounded his fist on the dash. There was a storm a-brewing that eve and its name was Brian Leveaux!
Our hero, Brian, motored up to the Miami apartment, quietly exited his car, and prowled toward the apartment on foot. He stepped forward to the door of the apartment of his teenage daughter’s mafioso drug pusher man. He twisted the door handle to find the door unlocked. He stepped into the apartment and stood there in the front room momentarily. At that moment the mafioso pusher stepped out at the top of the stairs in the room. He raised a pistol-clasped hand and shot Brian twice.
Brian Leveaux fell quite dead there at the base of the stairs… and never recovered.
By Almighty God and with honor,