The Importance of Strong Support

If you ask a boxer the most important aspect of his punching power is, he will tell you it’s his legs. The punch starts all the way from the feet, through the knees, builds immense torque in the hips, and explodes through the shoulders, mimicking the dynamics of a bullwhip. In Delta, we all understood that our punch was only as good as our legs under us were — our supporting foundation.

Rigorous Selection and Training

Movies like to pick on cooks (cookies) and mechanics (grease monkeys), so let’s do the same. Our support brothers put in applications to reside with the Unit just like us knuckle-dragging pipe-hitters in the assault squadrons. If accepted through their initial application, they reported to West Virginia for a couple of days of evaluation.

They endured a day of physical challenges followed by a grueling timed rucksack march of some 20 miles with a formidable weighted cargo. Those who made it through that day were subject to a board of ranking Unit members who grilled them for an extended time with puzzles, scenarios, situations… emotions all the while on the rise.

(World champion boxer Gennady “GGG” Golovkin)

The Versatility and Dedication of Our Team

When all was said and done, a brother who ended up with a specialty position in the Unit was a remarkable sort of person with hardly an equal, capable of enduring the most exquisite of bull$hit:

“Mark… put down those wrenches! Wipe the grease off your hands and come with me.” (pausing at a closed door) “Behind this door is a ballet troop performing Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake Dance of the Little Swans. Here’s your tutu (hands over tutu to Mark) now, GET IN THERE! (opens door, shoves Mark in and slams door). In Delta you’re a wigwam, you’re a teepee, you’re a wigwam, a teepee — you’re just two tents!

Flexibility is the staple characteristic of personnel filling roles in the foundation of the assault squadrons. “That’s not my job” is a phrase guaranteed to get all of your belongings piled up outside the front gate that same day and your Unit access badge deactivated. There is no reasonable expectation of comfort in the Unit, no guarantee of a day off, guarantee of uninterrupted vacation, and women can’t even get pregnant while serving in certain roles.

Such a pregnancy case resulted in the termination of a female, as I distinctly remember. During her termination board, she pleaded that she was still willing to deploy for extended periods of time, leaving her baby in the care of her mother. She was willing to do that to her baby for the sake of the Unit. The response: “Ms. Smith, we understand you are willing to do that to your baby. We, however, are NOT willing to do that to your baby.”

Unmatched Skill and Resolve in Action

Responsibility for actions, ownership of mistakes, and pride in one’s work flourished. It gave me a non-stop thrill to witness the manifestations of pride in so many areas throughout my years there. I’m put in mind of the day we pipe-hitters were lined up at the chow hall at the stroke of 1200 local Ft Bragg hours. The serving line was not ready. We looked at the clock, and it read 1200. Delta operates in minutes and seconds. We saw one nervous cook. He was stooped over a large tray of mashed potatoes and was using the convex side of a spoon to whip wavy swirls over the top of the potatoes row by row.