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.

Big Jim’s all-male, all the time sloop on Key Western bay waters.

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: