Go see Act of Valor today. We went yesterday afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Before I go any further, I need to insert a disclaimer: I was never a SEAL. I never went to BUDS, I never had a trident on my chest, I was never in their league. I was a nearsighted (totally correctable) egg-head who didn’t have the physical stamina to make it through the first week of BUDS. I was a slow runner who couldn’t do pull-ups if you aimed a pistol at my head. I was good with a gun, physically tough and had some law-enforcement and martial arts experience which made me formidable as an opponent to little old ladies, drunks and the normal run of bullies you run into in life. I didn’t back away from a fight, but I was never in the same class as “The Men with Green Faces.”
There. That’s out of the way. I don’t want any special warfare types hunting me down as a “wannabee,” or fraud, which is the worst sort of insect in my opinion.
But when we were sitting on the couch last night my wife, also a Navy vet, turned to me and said, “We were in two totally different navies.” It was a stunning admission from her. We were both CTI2 in our rate (Cryptologic Techician Interpretive, Second Class) and both had gone through some of the same schools. But when we got to our duty station that’s where our paths diverged pretty wildly.
My wife was a shore-based analyst. That’s because in the 1984-1989 time frame women were prohibited from “combat” slots in the service. I was a 9126/9124/9134 *(That last one is iffy. The actual NEC isn’t listed on the website and I’m not 100% sure they used it when I was on active duty*) .
What brings this all up is that while we watched the movie I saw my old hangouts. Our little group of merry pirates frequently traveled with the guys from the teams. We rode in the same helicopters, did the zodiac shuffle to the submarine, exited the well-deck of an amphib in that same zodiac, screamed into the battle space on a submarine with a “garage” affixed or available. We ate meals together, went on liberty together, went to some of the same schools, and on more than a few occasions got royally trashed together.
I won’t claim the guys from the SEALS as my blood brothers, but they were like friendly cousins I got to see a couple of times a year at family reunions. And watching the movie my wife saw on the big screen some of the things I had described to her over the years. Al Stewart has a song that strikes a chord for me, “Old Admirals.” I often wonder if I’ve become that “Old Admiral” and taken to boring and annoying my family and friends. I hope not. I hope that I’m on the way to producing the stories that I can tell in a positive way. I’ll never break OPSEC on my past. It will always be generic or totally fictional when it comes to what we did and where we did it, but the human drama of the stories are amazing. I couldn’t have asked for a better past as an author. I have enough material to keep me going for years of writing. And, yesterday, my number one fan got a glimpse into the world I used to live in on the big screen.
So, my thanks to the people who made the movie, Act of Valor . You did an amazing job. And to the Teams… you guys are still my heroes. How about a coffee and we reminisce about old times?