Among other things, U.S. Navy SEALs are known for their imagination and intrepidity. Those characteristics are instilled in them from very early on in their careers. Indeed, the initiation begins during the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training, where students are encouraged to think outside the box. The results of this thinking, however, can sometimes be hilarious.
In one of their last acts as BUD/S students, the sailors of class 250 transported a huge boulder of unknown origin and planted it in the middle of the parking lot of the Naval Special Warfare Center (NSWC). NSWC is the training facility where aspiring Navy SEAL candidates are assessed for suitability to continue on at SEAL Qualification Training.
According to Lieutenant Tom Deshazo, who graduated with class 250 and is now the orientation officer in charge (OIC) of the Naval Special Warfare Center, the origin of the humongous boulder is unknown. “Some in BUD/S class 250 are not even sure of where it came from and how it got to its current location at the back gate of Basic Training Command,” he said. “I know it was brought there some time in the middle of the night to the surprise of the instructor staff.”
One version of the tale has class 250’s “Smurf Crew,” the boat crew comprised of the shortest members of every BUD/S class, finding the boulder in the Californian desert, loading it on a truck, and stealthily transporting it to the NSWC parking lot as a parting gift to their instructors.
Alongside the names of the graduates of class 250, there is an inscription that reads, “The secret to BUD/S is under this rock.” This intriguing message presumably refers to teamwork as the key ingredient of success in SEAL selection, since the boulder could only be placed there or moved by way of teamwork.
“The great thing about the story behind the rock is that it inspires the sailors who see it when they are at Basic Training Command,” added Deshazo. ”I have heard more than one story over the years; some have elements of truth, some are totally off base, but all are meant to motivate sailors.”
Leaving some kind of monument behind for the instructors and future BUD/S classes isn’t unheard of. For example, BUD/S class 300 left behind a Spartan shield that had engraved on it the names of the successful graduates.
On an interesting note, Medal of Honor recipient Michael Monsoor graduated with BUD/S class 250. Petty Officer 2nd Class (SEAL) Monsoor selflessly jumped on a grenade during an engagement with Iraqi insurgents on September 29, 2006. In doing so, he sacrificed his life so his brothers-in-arms would survive.
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