The following is an event that happened leading up to Hell Week. It was one of those life moments where we have a choice to make. Enjoy, Brandon

By the fifth week of First Phase, I was a wreck: exhausted, humiliated, just about beaten into a corner. Then one afternoon, just a few days before Hell Week was to begin, it all came to a head.

Every afternoon we formed up in seven-man boat crews, grabbed our heavy rubber boats, threw them up on top of our heads, and ran with them to the beach to get tortured for a while. On this particular afternoon we were on our way out to the beach when Instructor Shoulin called over to my team. “Webb, get over here.”

Michelson, my boat crew leader, said, “Hey, what’s up, Instructor Shoulin? Where is he going?”

“Don’t worry about Webb,” he replied. “Just go get your fucking boat ready.” I looked over and realized that O’Reilly, Buchanan, and Kowalski were all with him. Uh- oh. I peeled away from my boat crew and headed with them out to a section of beach where it was just us, alone: me and the four alpha instructors.

“Drop, Webb,” said one of them. “Eight-counts, begin.” This was one of their favorite forms of punishment. The eight-count bodybuilder goes like this:

  1. Start from a standing position.
  2. Drop to a squat, hands on ground.
  3. Push legs back to basic push-up position.
  4. Execute a push-up.
  5. Scissor-kick your legs apart.
  6. Legs back together in push-up position.
  7. Pull your legs up to your chest.
  8. Jump back up to standing position.

They had me do a hundred of these babies, then took me through push-ups, flutter kicks, the whole works, and all the while they were shoveling sand in my face and yelling at me, all four of them, at the top of their lungs.

“You are a worthless piece of shit, Webb! Do you even know what a piece of shit you are? You are the biggest piece of shit we’ve ever seen! You’re weighing your whole class down. You are a one-man walking disaster. You are fucking it up for everyone else. You don’t belong here, you fleet piece of shit. Do you even know how badly you’re fucking this up, how much everyone wants you gone? You’re a disgrace, Webb. You’re garbage. You need to quit. Nobody wants you in Hell Week.”

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