“So, You Want to Be A Frogman? . . . . . . . Read this First.”          

 Doc Rio  

I always like to say “I was NOT a Navy SEAL but they are my favorite Team” Now that would make a perfect shirt for some of us who tried BUD/S and failed.  About the 5th week of boot camp we had to report for work week. Not me I was special, I reported to someone that I had no idea who he was or how long he had been in the Naval Special Warfare Community. His name was Master Chief Louis Boisvert and he was intimidating but always was squinting or smiling as he spoke.   Subj: So Close But No Cigar Inbox   From:  Quigley, Daniel W., VBADENV  

I just want you to know that this story is all about my attempt to become a frogman. I was not a SEAL or a frogman….I was always a support guy and a BUDS trainee but I never completed the training ….just so you know….I went to BUDS first/SDV as a support guy/then back to BUDS 141 and disenrolled again then sent to Vieques, PR for a year . I tried my sea legs out In Charleston SC and that’s when I met
Ed Jones …he was LT Commander of the USS Santa Barbara (AE-28)  and he was the one who pulled me out of a crowd and said “Do you know Joseph Yarburough and I said yes ….he grinned and said I put him thru BUDS.” I wanted to get off that ship and go try BUDS a third time but got out of the NAVY. 

So that is what my story is all about. I wanted very much to get thru that training but that is the plight of so many of us and I hope that others have similar stories. 

There are even guys who made it to the teams and ran into problems whether disciplinary or otherwise who had that taste of the comradery of BUD/S and or The Teams and feel they can never get it back. 
I just want others to know that I know how it feels to fail.

Respectfully yours 
Dan Quigley 
Navy Veteran

by Dan Quigley

 Introduction

Perhaps the first I ever heard of Navy Frogman was when I was a kid watching the space race in the late 1960’s on television.  We also watched what was called the” living room war” and that always seemed like background noise in our house full of three girls and me and one more girl on the way. My dad was always interested in anything involving NASA.  I guess when the capsule parachuted into the ocean my focus must have been on those guys who were there to open the hatch for those Astronauts. They were the worker bees in my opinion …I was four at the time so I did not know anything…sometimes I think that I still have much to learn.

                                                            Chapter One

It was my friend Billy LaMonica that sold me on the idea of going into the Navy. He knew a guy named BJ MckInney who said we could do anything we wanted to. I was a good welder in school and enjoyed working with wrought iron and enjoyed shop where we learned how to arc weld. I told the Navy recruiter that I wanted to be a Hull Tech and he said that would not be a problem but I would have to wait until January or Feb of 1984 to get in ….Well I graduated high school in 83 and I was itching to get out of Denver and on with my life. B.J  McKinney told me he could get me in as a Gunners Mate Guns and I could go in as early as September. I asked if I would ever be able to do any welding as a Gunners Mate and of course he replied “Sure you will…now sign right here”.  Billy got in earlier than me although we were supposed to be on Buddy system. He went and came back before I went in …he was sent home because when he marched his feet swole up …he had flat feet and therefore could not serve. He made a hell of a salesman though. Billy sold cars for a while then went on to selling everything else that he could.

 

I was your basic Colorado good old boy…loved to ski, ride bikes and swim and dive off the 1 meter and three meter boards.   I did things well but never over the mark on anything. The day I left to join The Navy my baby sister cut off my shoulder length chlorine bleached swimmers hair and left me with a cut over my ears that made me look like a schoolboy.  I wore my USA Sweatshirt and my Levis Jeans and my best friend Bryan took me to the MEPS Station in Denver. We spent all day at the MEPs Station and then we were flown to San Diego where even there I was pretty damn scared. They let us go to sleep at a decent hour but woke us up with a bunch of guys screaming at us and throwing trash cans. I was shaking so much that I could barely follow  the instructions they were barking at us…We fell out side and lined up and the first thing anyone said to me me was “Where are you from boy? Faggotville” Of course I screamed back No Sir I am from Denver, Colorado. He said you say no Recruit Chief Petty Officer…I said nothing I was thouroughly confused. The next thing was all the Filipino  guys that worked there in San Diego. I never even had seen a Fillipino dude and I could not understand a damn word they were saying to me …so I just watched all the other recruits…..IP I tell you to Pee in the bottle …then you Pee in the bottle they barked at us. I guess one of the guys understood cause we put our names and socials on the bottle and peed in them as we were told. Later we were lined up in front of the barber shop. “Do you have a note from your mother to be here!  A guy asked me….and these were the civilian contractors who cut hair for the Navy. I said nothing and the he shaved my head and I went to stand in line nut to butt with all the other bald poopies. Then something happened …a guy tapped me on my shoulder and said to me. “Grasshopper, as quickly as you can snatch the pebbles from my hand and then it will be time for you to leave” I laughed so hard that we were told to shut up and someone  kept saying “Stop your squirming” Never knew how difficult it was just to stand at attention for so long. Its like your waiting for a plane at the airport but you are not allowed to speak or move or go to the bathroom or anything. We then went over to this place that gave us all our kind of goofy looking sailor uniforms….Really, big bell bottom jeans with blue long sleeve shirts…It really is the same outfit you get in the prison system.  Dungarees.   Always hated them…but I always had it in the back of my mind that this would only be temporary. I did not even like the p-coat was made of wool and itched like crazy. They issued us a wool blanket some sheets and seabag fool of stuff and we spent all day playing dress-up.

 

It was only a few days later when our Company Commander approached us and asked how many of you guys play a musical instrument? How many have ever been in ROTC and oh yeah how many of you guys would like to take SEAL PT test. I threw up my hand with only two others that wanted to take the test. One guy messed up on the swim and the other did not do enough pull ups. I only weighed 149 lbs so I made it through the passed what would be my first little taste of what was to come.

 

I loved boot-camp…it really was the camp my parents never sent me to. I loved all the PT marching and head games and I really found a lot of humor in the military way unless of course it was me the one who was being hammered or corrected for messing up on something stupid like my 5th general order. I remember distinctly seeing a guy who obviously was at the end of his line and he failed to call last man be pulled aside and was told to face the wall from about 6 inches away and all he kept repeating was “Last Man! Last Man! Last Man!” Sometimes you did not even know what the other guy did but you knew he messed up and he would not make that mistake again. I think it was about the 5th week of bootcamp we had to report for work week. Not me I was special, I reported to someone that I had no idea who he was or how long he had been in the Naval Special Warfare Community. His name was Master Chief Louis Boisvert and he was intimidating but always was squinting or smiling as he spoke. He would ask me “So Seaman Quigley…how many push, push did you do today?” I always answered with the same answer of not enough and he would just say then lets get started.  There was only about three or four of us out on the grinder in a circle with the Master Chief bellowing out the count in a most peculiar way. “Ah –wan too , tree” ONE we yelled in unison… Ah Won too tree  …two  ah wan two tree Three…but this was all so different…He would talk to us as we were working out. The Master Chief and a couple of other guys had UDT shorts on . One thing you had to get used to was that those short really did not conceal a lot on those tough old frogs and believe me they could care less. We did all they basic stretches, way backs, back flutter kicks, eight count body builders and chase the rabbits and then the Master chief when we were doing sit ups in pike position would reach up grab his boots around his dive sock and hold himself up there sitting in pike positon on what looked to be a half ass yoga mat. Yeah I knew Master Chief Louis Boisvert was unique. He had a very visible scar on the inside of his bicep that you could tell had to be stitched up at one time. I did not dare ask him what happened . I just told him that I needed to do a lot more push ups.

I went to Gun School in Great Lakes, Illinois.  In the latter part of school I met a fiend named Joe Quinn and also knew a guy named Bob Hall that also had orders to go to Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Training in June of 1984. So we began a semi strict regiment of running on the beach on Lake Michigan and we considered taking a dip in that cold cold water. Good thing we never did that and In late May we celebrated graduation from A-School and we were then off to BUD/S.  Joe and I got there and both of us had that long squidlly hair and mine was still parted down the middle and Joes was flipped to the side with his hand all the time. We went to the Naval Amphibious Base and checked in at Personel Support Detachment. They told ud we were at the wrong place and they called the quarterdeck at BUD/S and the officer of the day said ”WE don’t have a van to come pick you guys up. Grab your seabags and hump it over here …better get used to it” Joe and I could not believe it. So we headed over cross the street and showed up at the BUD/S Quarterdeck and then you see it. The Frog statue with the sign that has the statement not the question “So, you want to be a frogman huh.” Then the Lt. came out and said are you the guys that called. Yes sir we both replied like Heckle and Jeckle .Well these guys will get you checked in …I don’t know where you guys came from but both of you need haircuts…now get out of here.”

 

We were given keys to our rooms and we hauled all of our stuff up into the barracks. I remember it was a sunny day and was near four or five and the breeze from the ocean was flowing into my room. I was reaching for my locker when some real young guy with a blue shirt with yellow writing on the chest said,

“Hey, you left your key in the door..dont leave them there someone might take them” I fired back without a pause and said “Those are not my Keys” Mine are right here… He said well take them out of the door then. I did so and he said what IS your name? I  told him and he said “I will be seeing you around” That was my first run in with GMG 2 Dobstaff. Im not sure which one of the Dobstaff that was cuz there were three of them. So the first day I was there we pissed off a LT Bunnig,a SEAL Instructor named Dobstaff and we were to go get our uniforms somewhere in San Diego after we went and got our hair cut on the Naval Amphibious Base.  Joe and I did not just get a regulation cut..we got our heads shaved. Yeah we looked pretty stupid getting on the bus at NAB and getting off at the place where you had to buy your own name tags and an inspection uniform at this dinky little shop in San Diego.  On Monday when we proceeded to check in further Senior Chief Tanaka informed us that we missed the start up date of class 130 by two days…that meant we had to wait 30 to 40 days until Class 131 started. They decided to send me a Joe out to San Clemente Island do our pre training. That is when I met Master Chief Roger Sick. He had a gruff voice but he always treated us well. Except  for the times when he would wake us up in the  with grenade simulators. We all slept in a place called The Swamp right down at the bottom of the hill. At the top of the hill was a big frog. We saw members of Class 128 do flights with steel or wood crates on their backs and they would be smiling all the way up to kiss the frog and come down and ask permission to land from an instructor. We got to take picture when the Class blew up the bay at San Clemente. Master Chief Sick even let us take a boat out with an engine on the back of it.  Joe Quinn was driving and one of the Marines that was hanging out with us for the day fell of the edge of the boat and the boat whipped around and the propeller cut him right on his tailbone…Yeah he needed stitches for that one …Master Chief Sick never really got too excited over anything he just said “He will be alright” and left it at that.  We had to help in the chow hall mainly doing clean up…We ate well and we watched the guys doing 15 pull ups and a  climb up the rope before each meal at the chow hall These guys were in third phase and one of their Class leaders was a young Ensign named William Sadilek. Ensign Sadilek always had a smile on his face and could run like a deer. Bill was nice to everyone..even us poopie pre-trainees that have not even started training. We all were still in such a state of awe…We were stationed with some of the roll backs that had already been thru Hell week and we even looked up to them. We had a guy named Graves who was a trashman from Chicago and Jim Lawson and Joe Quinn and I slept in The swamp each night as the Navy A-6s used to do touch and goes off the runway which was right up the hill from the BUD/S Compound. Not much to do on san Clemente but watch the movie that they offered on the other side of the island and drink as much beer as we wanted…On duty nights we would stand watches and feed the foxes that seemed to be everywhere on the island…One night  an Instructor that had rumored to have hundreds of kills in Vietnam came in the chow hall and put the fear of God in me….he just came over and said “Stand up…sit down…well ok then.” He was a little intoxicated and I was shaking in my boots. He was  a great big Hawaiian Dude named David P. The instructors in third phase at the time did not pay much attention to the pre trainees.

 

I don’t even remember leaving the Island that time around. I got to go back to Coronado Class 131 formed and some of my first memories were the songs the cadence, the runs to the chow hall and the many days swimming at the NAB pool in the hot sun with our bald ass heads .

“To my left, HEY  To my left Hey!!  Hooyah  hey Hooyah  hey hooyah Hey Hey Hey!!!

One -31 , get down, be proud, fire up Motivate Castrate, annailate…then as we were running making sure to give respect to all the Teams that we ran by on the frontage road of the strand we would send roadguard out when the light changed and shout.

Crossing over 75!!!! You gotta run like hell just to stay alive!

Hooyah hey Its an Easy Day …HooYah hey…I love to double time.

Then as approaching NAB gate we started up with

I was walking down the beach just the other day

And the meanest bunch of frogmen were headed my way

My girlfriend turned and she said to me

Is that what you really want to be?

So I took my hand and slapped her up side the head

And said I’ll be a frogman or I’ll be dead. !!!!

After getting thru the gate and running down past PSD we would start with

Black shoe black shoe don’t be blue…you could have been a frogman too

Hooyah hey its an easy day!!!

Then we would go in the chow hall that always seemed full of people from NAB that were checking us out…Perhaps they were placing bets on who would make it or not…but they were watching us because we were the new Class.  We would fall out and form up outside the chow hall and bust into song again

 

Lift you head and hold it high 131 is running on by!!

Hooyah hey easy day…. hooyah hey..I love to double time.

I remember going to the pool and sittin gin the bleachers. Going over drown proofing and underwater swims 25 meters then 50 meters. Everything was explained to us by the instructors in a matter of fact way. Sometimes using humor sometimes with that old Instructor expression. You people are pissing me off. We would swim in the NAB pool all day and if we did not have enough sun screen on our heads would swell up and we looked like aliens. We got little sympathy if we did not use enough sun screen. The bay swims that followed were not much fun…the San Diego bay always had a bunch of fuel from the ships…I guess the taste in our mouths would go away but the instructors would always reming us that if we were getting to cold or uncomfortable we could go and be on one of those ships in no time at all…We were still in the first part of autumn in California . I mean how cold could it get? Well we were about to find out.

After weeks of drownproofing, underwater knot tying, and obstacle courses and log pt we were about to start Hell Week.  Well I remember starting off watching a movie with about 80 guys. And then we all got to get our stuff together and go out to the tents they set up for us and we waited…and waited and Waited. We might here distant  voices and people scuttering around outside the tents but nothing can prepare you for breakout of Hell week at BUD/S.

 

And then it starts …Get out of there!!!!…fall out you bunch of maggots!!!!….they are blank rounds but it is the noise that the M-60 makes when it is blasting away….grenade simulators are going off all around you and all this smoke everywhere and some guy with  a hose focuses on the class and then an Instructor Demands a muster from your Class leader Mr Moss Mr Olson we need a count. That is the lull before they ask again are you sure you have all your people Sir…you cant lead from behind Sir Where are your people…..You People are pissing me off…Now go get dry uniforms on you got 60 seconds to get back here we are all yelling hooyah and we are tripping over each other to get our uniforms changed and we head back out of the tent while the guy with the hose gets us with the water again.And we pop tall on the PT grinder in the compound and the Instructor says I told you people to get dry uniforms on now get back there and get dry greens on you got 60 seconds …mr Olson do you have all your people??? Then we run back to get our last pair of greens on and we return to grenade simulators smoke and that damn hose that is on you and everyone else around you and then you here that dreaded bell. The one that you promised yourself that you would never ring so you keep moving on to the next evolution.

The next thing I vividly remember lining up facing the surf and the water and to lock arms with your classmate and hit the surf. We walked out and the Instructors said about face and all you could see was the sillouete of the Instrictors and the parachute flares that were lighting up the sky and swaying back and fourth as they came down and then I looked over and saw a guy I never thought would leave us stand up and say I cant take this cold water Im out of here….He was a black guy all Muscle and we all were shocked especially when we heard that bell ring on the first night of hell week and it rand a lot more time throughout the evening.

We did all the other what seemed crazy evolutions through out the night and through out the week. Around the worlds in the IBS.  Surf Passage, rock portage right in front of the Hotel del Coronado. There was a trainee that broke his leg during rock portage. There were guys that broke their arms during rock portage…but I never remember anyone quitting during rock portage…It terrified me everytime we went in….at day and at night. On of the most rigorous and frustrating parts of heel week was running under that IBS on the way to the chow hall at the Naval Amphibious Base..The Instructors would have us circl the chow hall at least once and then make us do what was called up boats on the side of the chow hall where we left out boats. We got hammered a lot right outside of the chow hall….Then we would get permission to go inside and certain seats were roped off for because we were soaking wet…and all the eyes were upon us…and the Instructors would walk arounfd the table and tell us you better eat up your gonna need it …Its agonna be a long night. Then before you know it you would here “131, fall out!!!” and we were back outside and under that damn boat. Then we were off to either the pool or the pier…Either one and we were not gonna like it a bit. We went to the pier one night right near the special Boat Units and across from where the Navy Divers were in training. This pier was not a fun evolution. I can remember being in the water and I had my uniform and my boots on then we were told to get out of the water. Then we stripped down and back in the water we went. Then we were told to get out and lay on the steel pier. We had a big light on us and the Instructor said “You know psychologically when the light is on you it seems warmer than when you are sitting in the darkness” And out of nowhere we heard that bell ring three times and then again and once again. Amazing how that works if you want to be a frogman.   “Ok so we need one more quitter and we will secure this evolution…just one more” No one got up this time and shortly after we were allowed to get our wet greens back on…We had green back then not cammies .One had to earn their cammies and here lies the rub that I will express later in this chapter.

 

The NAB pool seemed much better…we were allowed to jump or flip or dive off a platform for the whole Class…but we were there all night…Most of the time we were there standing nut to Butt and we were naked as Jaybirds. It seemed to me we also did a lot of just laying around the pool and then that damn dude with the hose was there…spraying us down as if we were little flowers not getting enough water. There was also a time when we went back to BUD/S compound and we were all told to go in a Classroom and write a letter on why we wanted to be Navy Seals…then they put on some nice classical music and dimmed the lights and the heads started dropping. I don’t know how long I lasted but I woke to an Instructor tapping me on the shoulder with about half the Class in with their heads down and then we were told to go to the grinder where everyone was already doing jumping jacks and the usual pt stuff. I wonder if they keep the letters with all the chicken scratch on them…all the aspirations of all these young guys that really want to be someone special….The Question is how bad do you want it?

 

We reached a night that we called So Solly night.Thurs day night of Hell week that you might think you got it licked until you still here that damn bell ring three times. I remember bits and pieces about that night. We had to use our paddles to dig a pit earlier in the day. We had to get in and out of the surf zone many times during that day. We lined up on the surf zone facing the horizon and the Instructor said”Say good bye to you friend the sun” You people aint gonna like whats next its gonna suck!”And it did After setting up our boats as shields from the drizzle we were invitee by the instructors to come over by the fire and warm up. What is this are they gonna let us get dry …is this it? Well for a bit they ask qustions about us …We get fooled into believing that we are accepted for a bit then the hammer falls ….Mr Olson do you have a full muster. No why not take your people out to the surf zone and then we get hammered again. I don’t rmenmber if we were clothed or naked then …I just know that I made myself just in the mind set to get to the next evolution.After a while being surf tortured we got to go up near our boats and we had to try to keep time and have someone say it is 1400 hours and 15 minutes and all is well at Camp Surf by the Sea, But not all was well …I had lost a dive sock and had my boot on my left foot with no sock on….My heel was ribbed raw with a blister that covered my hole heel. I remember at one point one of my classmates who always looked out for us came around to our boat and checked on us he saew me shivering and put his arm around my shoulder and said “hang in there Quig” He became our class leader because the other leading enlisted guys did not have their shit together…he was asked if he could lead the class and he stepped forward and said I can do it and those of you that know Don Shipley know that he can do what he says he will do.

 

After the blister opened up on the back of my heel I really started to slow my boat crew down. My buddy Randy Roush was a roll back that was an asshole to me in pre-training but he carried me thru Hell week. Up until an Instructor who I think was dave chapman said “ Hey Put that man down” Randy had me on his shoulders and was running thru the soft sand until we reached that check point. That is a part of Hell week that I felt ashamed about…literally being carried thru hell week was not something I was proud of. Then we were at the demo pits and those rope that go over that nasty ass water that has the bugs that bite at your crotch and your legs are sandy and chaffed from the saltwater. But now we had to face someone on the ropes…All I could think was please please don’t call my name and a couple guys get up there and start going at each other and the Instructors are swinging the ropes and laughing and then kerplunk another tadpole drops down in that nasty ass water…Smoke flares are going off and an occasional grenade simulator and then I here it. “Lets get Quigley on there up against Mr Somebody who was a Naval Academy wrestler and a mean SOB. It started civilized until he brought his feet up around my wates and my feet went up around his wate and then he started punching me to try to make ME fall down in the water. Well my sisters taught me well…if you are losing a fight and you feel all is lost grab the persons hand and bite it as hrd as you can. So I did….broke the skin and everything and he fell right down in the water. Damn cake eater…I bet to this day that frogman has a scar on his right hand where Dan Quigley Bit him during hell week on the ropes over the Demo pits.

 

The mud flats really seemed like a blur to me as well. Yes we rolled around in the mud for what seemed like hours but by then we were on autopilot and there was not much more you could do to us….I remember going to the chow hall one last time and then after the chow hall we would go right there by the enlisted mans club in the bay to do our business. Yes that s right. We would lock arms go out in the bay about face and then we got the dreaded order “Take Shits” and if you had to go you would let it out and there was no sense in being squeamish about the turds that might be floating toward you. We were locked  arm in arm and we were forming a strange bond that was different than any other you might have had in your life. Then we got out of the water and went to the other side of the NAB Armory and we were told that we were soup sandwiches  and that we were gonna get surf torture and this was Friday right after chow and we waited and waited in the bay and then we heard the call….Class about face and we see what seem to be about 30 or 40 dignitaries brass and the head of BUD/S come out and say Class 131…you are now secured from Hell Week. Well done” At this point you turned to the classmate next to you some hugged some high fives some hand shakes and some cried but we had made it thru Hell Week . We did it and we knew we were someone special.

 

The officers went back to the BOQ and crashed. The enlisted married dudes went to their apartments and slept. The single guys crashed out in the barracks and we slept until noon the next day .I remember being so groggy for the rest of the day Saturday and Sunday and Monday we were in Classes studying Cartography something I had never heard of. We also were planning to get ready to do something all tadpoles love to do. Get wet. No really we were getting ready for cast and recovery. The Special Boat Unit came into play during this part of training. They would get an IBS and strap it along side a boat that was not much bigger than a basic ski boat. We got all decked out in our UDT life vest and swim shorts with our balls hanging out cuz we all ahd big balls that made it thru hell week or so we thought we did and we got to wear our wet suit tops at night but during the day it was just the shorts the vest and our dive booties and fins. We would begin our training back in the bay during the day and I remember the day well….In our boat was our Instructor  Holloway who was our first phase instructor who once led PT while Van Halen was blasting in the background. We all loved Instructor Holloway. Now my heel was still raw from hell week and when we did our first cast and recovery training I was feeling a little sandy. Cast and recovery is a blast. You move around the inside of the big grey boat and move onto the edge of the IBS and when Holloway said go you put you hand on your goggles and rolled into the water. It was a rush and then you wait. !5 twenty minute later depending on where you were in line the boat comes back and it looks like it is coming right at you you just make sure and put your left arm up and when that rubber circle hits your arm you kick like a muther to get back up in that IBS and keep crawling into the bigger grey boat and you are good to go! Holloway said hey Quig you got to get up in the boat faster you almost made us miss a guy…I told him my heel was bothering me….Surprisingley he said Ok you want to sit this next one out…I said yeah I think I better as I sat in the boats and licked my wounds my classmates were ready to go again …So we dropped them all in the water and it was only me and Holloway on the boat and he said Quig get over here …”You are gonna have times when you are injured and you still have to complete the mission. If you want to stay up here on a boat we can arrange that for you as he looked over to the ships right across the bay” So what are you gonna do.Hooyah Instuctor Holoway I understand….After picking up the guys  I got back in line shuffled off the grey boat onto the IBS and out into the water I rolled…When the boat came back to get me I kicked like crazy got into IBS and then back on boat and looked up and Got a smug hooyah from Instructor Holloway. Will never forget that day. You might have to work in pain but you never quit. You keep a goin just like the poem says.

 

Hydrographic reconnaissance cartography and making maps from dropping a weight with a string on it and then counting the number of knots on the string to record the depth or the sounding on a plastic board really was not that great. I have to admit I peed in my wetsuit to keep warm more than I tried to get an accurate sounding for the person that had to draw the Cartographic maps we were supposed to present to the instructors. I really just could not wait until the boat came back around to scoop us up and get us out of that water that was getting colder as we were heading into Second Phase which was Dive Phase the first time I attempted BUD/S Training.

It was right after hell week that we could wear green t-shirts instead of white ones. We also had our own Clas t—shirts that was mad at the T-shirt shop in Coronado that makes all the Class T-shirts.

Our shirt read   “On the Seventh day God rested, We didn’t “

1984 UDT SEAL Training Fall Class.  We got to wear that shirt with pride. We wore them out in town and we wore them to the enlisted club on the naval Amphibious Base.  One night we went to the club and at the end of the night we could not get everybody in the car.I was left out and there was a cute lady in the parking lot who said I will give you a ride home. I laughed at my classmates as we rolled out the gate. I told her that she could just drop me off right there in front of BUD/S and and she said “Well you don’t want to go home right away do you “ as she put her hands on my left leg as she was driving…I knew then I had made the right choice and said Well we can go to the beach if you want. “I know just the place” she smiled.

Ok so this did not happen to me in high school or when I was in the regular navy in Gun School…but now I was in UDT/SEAL Training and my life really was different. I felt different. I carried myself differently I really could lean back and strut…little did I know I had only begun my long journey with Naval Special Warfare. I di not know what was coming next but I did not think it was gonna suck. It did . it tore my heart out. It humiliated me …or I humiliated myself. Poor choices I made dear reader or that you have made as well in your youth. Or perhaps you are seeking to go down the path that so many have tried and failed at. Make sure you don’t let your littlehead do thinking for your big head.  Make sure that you have put all other desires to the side and that you are focused on training and not all the glory that comes with it even when your just a little tadpole.

So then we get to second phase and it is getting colder there in Southern California. We started off doing free accents in the dive tower. Diving down to the bottom of the dive tower and breathing compressed air and then stepping out of a bell housing unit and blowing all the way up to the surface ….and if you were not letting air out during an ascent the instructors would be on you like white on rice pulling you back down in the second bell housing unit. Then in the classroom we were studying dive medicine and diving physics….wait a minute!!!!! …no one told me about the math….perhaps someone did I just was not listening.  My friend and Classmate from gun school Bob Hall told me that I needed to study but his wife set me on a blind date with a beautiful brunnete from El Cajon named Annie. Oh my she was lovely. I remember not studying and not finishing dive problems before we ever had any exams and they were coming. Before we knew it we had twin 72s on our backs and we were treading water with them on for two minutes and that seemed like an hour. We practiced ditch and dawn at day and night with your swim buddy Al Morinaka was my swim Buddy and I did all I could just to keep up with this California kids that was as tough as nails and could swim like a fish.   I remember nights at the NAB pool and we were diving and I was humming to the theme song to James Bond into my regulator. Then came the dreaded day. Dive physics exam followed by pool Comp and I failed the diving physics miserably. On the day of pool comp it was getting later in the day it was still sunny out but the storm was a coming. I got ot the edge odf the pool and One of the Instrucors said …I got this one! GMG1 Dobstaff I been waiting for you Quigley”  Prepare to enter the water…ENTER the water….When I first got down there I was cool…he came down and took off my mask ….I calmly put it back on …but then came the storm…he ripped off my mask and tore my regulator out of my mouth I was fine until I ran out of air and reached for my airvalve and tried to put regulator in my mouth…I freaked and tried to get to the surface as he was kneeing me in the chest for my own good so I did not have an embolism. I got to the surface all tangled up in my regulator and was told Totally unsat  FAIL . I got another try that day and It was with a different Instructor but I di the same thing and I ran out of air while trying to ditch my tank on the botton of pool. The ride home in the cattle car began my deep humiliation. I looked over at Mike Freishlag who had a time with pool comp but he passed and he always would read a book during down time .The next day we were pulled aside as well if we failed the dive physics exam …I was given one more chance to pass pool comp by then I was so freaked out that I did not know which way to go but I came up to the surface again and they said fail.  I was devastated. I was always comfortable in the water  as long as I was able to breath what was on the surface. So I suggest to you dear reader that if you want to hang out with the brave and the bold you might want to take a basic scuba course. Get comfortable in that water and trust your equipment. The good air is down there. The sharks and Instructors are at the surface and they are just waiting for you to show a little weakness. So I did not quit…I never rang the bell but I knew that I was going to be dis enrolled or rolled back to another Class …I did not get lucky this time…I was on my way out and I went be sent somewhere I never felt I should be sent to. The quitters barracks…Yeah such harsh words…for guys that in a moment of weakness let their thoughts get the best of then and they rang that bell. It wont allow then to be frogmen but they are tough or fast or smart as hell but this really messes with your head ..I had been with some of these guys just weeks earlier at the middle of hell week…Joe Quinn broke his ankle in hell week at had to ring out (but that was only first try for Joe) He was already haze grey and underway by the time I got to the barracks….I stayed away as much as I could….I resented the fact I had to muster with the quitters and I stayed off base as much as possible. Annie was my savior….She took me to La Jolla to try to surf she took me to Disneyland. She was awesome…She did not care that I had washed out of BUD/S, But I was awaiting orders then they came in .My orders were to SDV Team One NAB Coronado and believe me I was confused as hell.  I get to SDV Team one and they ask me in personnel “Are you a frog or a tech” I said to the guy Come again He said Are you an operator or a technician and I replied that I really did not know  . “Oh you failed out of BUD/S but they sent you here anyway. Iwas then sent to see Joseph Yarburough the acting CO of SDV team one and he said why in the hell are they sending me dropouts from BUD/S well you here but I don’t like it a bit.   That about says it all Welcome to the Teams kid but you don’t deserve to be here.  Well lets go get your gear. What gear Im just a technitian yeah but yoou need uniforms and we need to get you a room in the barracks. Even when I got all my gear I felt guilty….I did not earn this stuff …The Parachute back the camouflage blanket, three sets of cammies brand spanking new and black boots not boondockers. The only part of that damn uniform I felt I had earned was the green t-shirt but I really was embarred to be seen in my cammies around the Naval Amphibious Base. I went to the chow hall and then my Class came in I was too embarresed to speak with them and some may have even asked hey whats up wityh the uniform…where did they send you. Hell I had not realized that I was sent to the Teams even though I should have been sent to the fleet like everyone said I would be. I avoided the chow hall like the plague and the e-club was now my lunch place and mc Donald was my kind of place too I think I had a filet of fish every week for over a year. After I went home for Christmas in 1984 my life was rapidly changing. My parents were going thru a divorace and I was stationed with a bunch of guys that earned their way to the Teams and I felt like an imposter. My first roommate on SDV Team One was Greg Flores. He was in Class 128 with Bill Sadilek the nice Ensign I wrote about. Petty Officer Kregger was the First Class in charge of the Armory where I was assigned …he was not too enthused about me being ther either but It did not stop them from taking me to the shooting range in Imperial Beach . This was 1985 and we used to load up a van with a box for weapons and a box for ammo.they were locked and I remember thinking that I would hate toi be the dumb as that tried to rob this van. Petty Officer Kregger was a guy very sure of himself and he was very willing to teach you a thing or two at the range as long as you knew to be safe and shut up and listen. We had shotguns, Heckler and Koch MP-5s,  and  MAC 10s that we could shoot as many rounds as we had .  It was all so informal. But even so these guys were safe so don’t t do anything stupid or you wont be coming to the range. Hey Quig…put this flash suppressor on this 9mm bareeta and shoot ittry to push with your right and pull with you r left don’t pull the trigger squeeze it so I did….and I was a pretty good shot.Hell I had great teachers and they were not yelling at tme they were just explain what they allready knew..

 

I am not sure if I volunteered for the change of command ceremony in 1985. I know that Petty Officer Klein was in middle with the us flag and we had Navy colors and then two riflemen….I was one of the riflemen. We wore chrome helmets and I was proud to be a part of the ceremony. Thing is…it still did not change that I was just a tech on SDV-TEAM One. My depression got worse…During upcoming Fourth of July ceremonies I was told that I would be working the weekend when all the operators do their demonstration in the Coronado Ship Harbor across from the high rises. Everyone in the Spec War Community would be there. I just thought of it as another time I would run into old Classmates of mine that I really felt dead to….I was not planning to go to the “celebration “ I was planning to fly to Denver for the weekend” Or so I said I was. So I decided there was no other alternative but to go AWOL. That’s right Absent without leave. Big offense!!! I started in Coronado and planed my escape from a place I used to alwys go and get the best tuna salads…I rode up over the Coronado Bridge and onto the highway and in a few hours I was in Riverside, California.  I spent the night in a hotel up there and the next morning I woke up and knew the die had been cast the ball was already rolling it was 0930 and we were supposed to muster at 0730 everyday. Well not today I had a long ride ahead of me. I knew I would not have any problems with my new Yamaha 400 Maxim. The thing is I had never been on a long trip on a motorcycle before and I was ill equipped and probably mentally ill. I rode all the way to Las Vegas Nevada and I was so stupid in downtown Vegas people kept pointing to my head and I did not understand they were just trying to let me know that you have to have a helmet on in Nevada….Nobody could tell me anything…it was like I had this self defense wall up so high that   I would not let anyone in. I stayed in Elk right outside of LasVegas and started to think of the severity of my actions but there was no way I was going back to SDV Team One to be a waterboy as I looked at it. So I continued on from Nevada and then all day across Utah and then to Grand Junction inColorado. I was home with only four hours to go…Well I forgot that going over The Vail pass even in June can get quite chilly….I had my wife beater t-shirt and reg shirt with Levis Jean jacket on. I froze my ass off going over the continental divide and I stopped at rest area just to go to the restrooms to use the blow dryers to heat up my hands and warm up. I got down into town and decided that I would spend the night at my highschool buddies house. The next day we went to my house and my father was home. He just said, “Well, Dan Im glad you made it safe and your alive but you have to go back” There has been a Chief Boward calling for you. You have to go back Dan …this is not something you can runaway from. If you get a parking violation or a traffic ticket they will send you to jail and then the military will send you to jail.” You have to go back. So I called senior chief Boward and he said Quig you got to get on a plane and come back right away. My dad drove me to the airport and that was that. I remember landing in San Digo and Senior Chief Boward was there in his civilian clothes and I was only an e-3 and we had Liberty Cards then and I dug mine out of my wallet and told the chief”I don’t guess I will be needing this for a while” He just smirked looked toward the ground and said “ No you wont” when we go to the car he asked What happened Quig. I just feel like Im the water boy and Im not really on the TEAM . I knew I was right…I knew most off the operators fresh out of BUD/S looked down on the techs…the more seasoned operators realized that the technicians are an integral part of the mission especially when deployed …the problem is I was assigned to the armory and would not be deployed on a platoon…I would finish out my time right there at SDV-Team one in Coronado and sometime I think if I had been wise I would have finished my time right there in sunny California and left all that frogman stuff to the brave and the bold. But I was young and dumb and I was determined to get back to BUD/S .Even with my AWOL I had to go to my first Captains Mast and Commander Ray Smith was the Commanding Officer. He asked me the same thing “Why did you take off like this Seaman Quigley” I told him I went in the Navy to go to BUD/S not to be a support guy in the TEAMS Commander Smith told me not to get in trouble for 6 months and he would ensure I got back to training. I got two weeks of Extra Military Instruction waxing trucks after work and then I was not allowed to leave the base and I was  not allowed to go out to the E-club on base and I had to check in every couple of hrs at the QTR deck at SDV-Team One…this is when our building with the Swimmer Delivery Vehichles were locked up tight. My friend Todd Hansen was an HT from Santa Barbara, California and he had the unique job of doing bodywork on the SDV because the frogmen were driving a little aggressively and they might bump into something once in a while. Todd had a room in the barracks but we got a place in Coronado with another Navy girl that was stationed at the Naval Amphibious Base. She was a Engineman 3rd Class and she had a southern drawl and she had dated quite a few BUD/S trainees and frogmen over the years. The US Army Rangers have a name for this same type of girl around post …they are called Rangerettes well we all know what the girls are called that date one or more frogmen. They are the lovely and talented froghogs. That sure does not mean they are fat either. This is when the trouble started and I saw so many different aspects of what it was like to be a tech on the TEAMs.

 

 

                                                                   Chapter Two

                                             Living off base and out of bounds.

I worked with a guy in the armory at SDV-Team One who told me I could keep my room in the barracks and live off base. We lived in a house in Chula Vista, California.  I would rely on one of the guys to give me a ride to the base each day. One day I was walking off base and a girl in a white firebird came rolling by with her friend and said hey “dan You need a ride or something?”  I should have kept walking but hey It was couple of girls that lived on base I thought it might get interesting. Well it got more than interesting…It got so crazy that I really do not know how it all went down. But I told the girls I lived off base and Layla(I will call her) said she needed to find a place off base. I told her I had extra rooms at our place and I told my roomates about it and they agreed to let her move in. Well it was not before long she asked one of her friends named Linda to move in as well. So as I recall I had my original roommate and Layla and Linda and me. We drank and had parties quite a bit. Layla had a guy stop by who was a great big Mexican Dude named Rico. I aint using his last name because he is probably still a contractor or a spook or something. Rico knew Layla for a long time…probably since he went through BUD/S . He used to always tell me “Dan , you be careful with her she is a maneater  bro!”  I told him I could handle it. It was not until I stayed up all night one night cuz rico stayed the night with Layla and I was taking more of  a liking to this Southern  Girl.

So it got  to the point that she wanted to go to the e-club every night. So we went. She would float checks on Thursday before payday and then they were paid by Friday in her bank …I learned lots of bad habbits from Layla.   Before long she was sleeping in my room . Problem was she still did whatever she wanted and I was too much of a wus to say wait a minute something is wrong here…I was more afraid of being alone than I was of being with a chik that could not  stick with just one guy. Girl or guy we have all been thru this relationship at one time in our lives when we knew that the person we were dating or sleeping with was seeing someone else or just did not want to be in a monogamous relationship. Then comes the next move.

We moved to a real nice apartment in Coronado, California. I gave Layla $1000 out of some savings I had and I never saw that money again. She said she needed space so we decide on a two bedroom apartment in which she would go out clubbing I would stay home and then she would come back and get in bed with me. I got used to it…until she would bring guys from Class 138 home with her….More sleepless nights for my pitiful ass. One summer evening I was following her home on my Black Yamaha 400 Maxim and she was in her Firebird. A big blue F-150 pulled in front of me and I skid into the back quarter panel and bounced off and hi the ground and layed there in fetal position.  The truck ran over the rest of my bike crunched it up good and then the truck crossed the rest of the street and plowed into a parked car. The cops came the ambulance came and then Layla came down the street and all I heard was the clicking of her heels and the nag in her voice that said simply… “Dan, What are you doing?” The guy driving the truck was a sailor from the USS/Kittyhawk and I just wanted to go home to my apartment where Layla was. I should have gotten into the damn ambulance. The next day Layla took me to work and I had never been that injured in my life I was bruised and my back was killing me. I had to go to the infirmary on the Naval Amphibious Base and they set me up with a chiropractor. That was only the beginning of my problems. Word may got out that I was living with a girl that did not have the best reputation on the base. My friend Tom got popped on a piss test and even some guys on the SDV team asked if I was smoking it up with Tom. Well, I will neither confirm or deny using any drugs while being stationed on the Naval Amphibious base.  I knew Operators from the SDV Teams and from SEAL TEAMS across the street that may have smoked weed after coming back from overseas…others were Jesus freaks and some were pill poppers and some were very straight laced. Nothing is as I thought it was supposed to be…I had people that would trust me and say “Hey Quig, Do I look stoned” Id say yes and that cologne aint fooling anyone either….Hey Quig do you want to do a bump….”No Man I don’t want to talk all night and lies to each other about how great we are. Hey Quig…have you found Jesus and have you accepted him as your personal savior.”Well lets see, I have been baptized I have been to communion and I have been confirmed as a Catholic in the Catholic Church …Yeah I am good. But are you a true Christian Dan . Yeah I do believe that when you tell people that you are Catholic that you believe in Jesus Christ therefore, you are a Christian.  And we go around and around until the big day.

 

Hey Quig your orders came in. Your going back to BUD/S this fall….better start getting ready…You aint gonna like whats next ….you aint gonna like it a bit!!!

So I was living in Coronado, California and I was stationed at SDV-Team one and I had my orders to report back to BUD/S. Some of the same instructors were still there.I think they do a two year tour as Instructors. Instructor Chapman was there. Lt Commander Keith was the XO at BUD/S and the CO of Naval Special Warfare Center at the time was None other than Commander Larry Bailey. Ok so here I am back in BUD/S and I know what is ahead of us for all of first phase…And I knew it was going to suck. I knew the o coarse like the back of my hand because I had not been away from it in over a year and a half. In my mind I could go thru it from the bars to the walls to the monkey bars to the dirty names to that damn tower that everyone had a different way of ascending to the uneven logs that led to the slide for life that by the way I dreaded because I did not descend combat style like the real bad asses. I did it the hard way and then the weaver that was so hard to do wet and sandy and that damn cargo net that if you were in front and no one else was on the net with you was manageable and then the hurdles then the push ups and a big hoo-yah for the o-coarse…Yeah I forgot the barbed wire and the order might be a little off but things change …People hate that change.

 

So  the first two weeks in Class 141 led by a deep voiced officer named Tom Wilson. This time around they tell you after the two week phase. “If any of you want to walk away from training right now …there will be shame in it…this might not be for you.” This time around I thought long and hard over it…But you really don’t want that seed to sink in too far with you …too easy for it to grow…and that one seed of doubt can grow into a weeping willow tree. As I think it may have for me. I was there because I had a taste of what it was like being on a team. The thing is I did not want to clean weapons and count ammo. Most of the good operators did all that themselves and they could clean any weapon better than I ever could. Back in BUD/S the weeks rolled on of obstacle courses, log pt and run swim runs, surf passage and rock portage. Before you knew it we were lined up in the compound the Friday before Hell week and the Instructors were walking thru the ranks of our class and commenting on weather or not any of us would make it through the week. There was an Instructor that used to run our dicks in the dirt on the soft sand and then at the end of the run he would be enjoying a cigarette. Instructor Ninno walked in front of me and said “ Quigley, you got about a snowballs chance in Hell of making it thru this week” I replied that I did it one and I will do it again. He said “Well, we’ll see about that” Im glad he forgot about me and my smart mouth during the week.

 

I had learned the expression in Class 131 from my classmate Randy Roush “If you aint cheating you aint trying” well I never learned the other side of that expression….Just don’t get caught…If you get caught in real life your dead if you get caught in BUD/S you will just wish you were dead. This time around during Hell Week I was prepared for all the mind games and noise and everthing that came with it. I wore panty hose cut off at the knee this time around instead of underwear to prevent chaffing. I had a couple dry sets of greens to change into but this time around I had a different plan…I was not gonna get into the dry greens everytime they said go change on Sunday night…I stayed in the same pair of greens the whole night during Breakout of Hell week. It worked so well that I used the same pair of greens and panty hose and I wore my dive socks inside out in my boots so my heels would not blister. I ate more candy this time around and I hallucinated like crazy on the long paddling adventures Around the Worl they called it. I even had a trick in the chow hall that may have back fired on me a bit….I was drinking a lot of hot water and hot juices in the chow hall…the problem is that the hot juice was an apple cider and I would drink a whole bunch. The apple juice did a number on me and I begged…begged an Instructor to let me use the toilet in the chow hall cuz I had diarrhea sooo bad and I could not wait to get to the bay. Belive it or not he let me go to the toilet and when I sat on that seat I thought I was gonna pass like Elvis right then and ther.Then he told me to hurry up cus my Class was falling out. I could here Mr Wilsons deep voice….141 Fall out…And then we headed over to the bay to do our business. Once again we headed to the steel pier where this time fewer guys quit during the night than when I went thru in Class 131. We went over to the NAB pool and got to do our dives and lay out at night around the pool and then there he was again that damn dude with the hose making sure that we all had plenty of water, in us around us above us and below us. We would make it thru the night and have breakfast the next morning at the chow hall if we were lucky. Oh yeah when we headed out to Camp Surf by the sea again we got to take our lunches with us and we were gonna have a nice lunch on the beach…And then it happened the wind kicked up and the Instructors yelled take cover we got a sand storm gentleman…And it happened a big plop of the Siver Strand just went all over you nice bologna sandwhich and really we had no choice but to eat it any way. Yeah that really sucked…I didn’t like it a bit but I really did not look forward to the night ahead either. The sun started going down and like I had gone back in time I heard the Instructors say”Wave goodbye to your friend” The sun was going down over the horizon and it was gonna be a long night…”Mr Wilson!!! Do you have all your People…just take your Class to the surf zone.

 

You people are pissing me off…I heard probly a thousand times and then that haunting So solly .Laying in the surf zone locked arm in arm with your buddies that you have been through so much with and then they start having doubts. I even remember a guy named Miller saying Quig Im done how bout you ..if they make us get back in the water again Im out of here ….Surprisingly I said yeah me too to him and sure enough I heard Mr Wilson hit the surf and if your Class leader hits the surf the whole Class does. I heard Miller rind that dreaded bell three times as we were headed out for some more surf torture. I felt bad for him but secretly I felt a little stronger myself and that nothing could stop me and nothing could make me quit. It was not going to happen that way. Shortly after that those Instructors took a bunch of Pallets and made a bonfire for us. This time I allowed myself to get close to the fire. As I had been with my lifestyle for the past year on SDV-Team One. One of the Instrucors said Where is Quigley…Quig get up here and just show us what you got…Your always out and about with all the ladies what is your secret …Just pull it out…well I was not gonna be bashful so I dropped my pants and my panty hose and they all just died laughing. I guess they had never heard of shrinkage yet either. Then they were on to the next guy…a half hour later we were back in the water. Next day demo pits and then the mud flats and once again those days seemed like a blur to me. I do remember during the IBS Around the World tour I di hallucinate and looked up at the beach and I saw a long line of drive in Movie screens. When I looked toward the lights on hwy 75 and when looking out to the water sometimes we would hallucinate and I saw fireball coming at me and you could reach out and they would dissolve because after all they were not real..They were only in your head …or were they? Would see them again years later after being sleep deprived for days. But making it a second time thru Hell Week was good and a real confidence builder but my personal life and living situation was not conducive to a BUD/S candidates need to be focused driven and level headed. I wish I would have kept my drama at the curb. I was 21 about to be twenty two in November of that year. I had earned another Hell Week t- shirt to wear and this one had a frog with tennis shoes on it on the front with Class 141 Born to Run..I did mention that we were the first tennis shoe class and man did we catch shit for that…On the back was a picture of a Frog Leaning against a wall holding a round bomb with a fuze with the inscription…Lets Play My Way on the back of the t-shirt…We were a Fall class…just like 131 and we had to do Hydrographic Reconasisance the next week and cast and recovery. This time around I had no injuries from hell week, I was top five on the ocoarse and my buddy Rusty Strickland held the record for doing the obstacle course faster than any of us. Grg Hubley was my swim buddy and underwater knot tying was kicking his butt. However in the end he excelled. My friend Chance Hughs who’s daddy was a frogmanfrom way back had a hell of a time with tendonitis in his arms that killed him doing pullups and going up that damn rope. We all had our aches and pains. We had to do Surf reports and one time an officer put an example of the surf report he did on a bulletin board and said if any of you do not understand these surf report look at mine I posted them on the board in the first floor lounge. I decided to copy the reports and there were two of them and be done with them without actually sitting and observing the surf and the wave for about an hour and recording each wave and then do a bit of math. Well I wanted to get home to Layla as always although we had been fighting and she had been talking about moving in with some dude who had just got out of the Navy and inherited a bunch of money. I told her to go but my heart and head wanted her to stay.

 

My real trouble were about to begin the next day when we were in Class and Instructor Woolard came in and was practically running over where I was with two pieces of paper and yelling about “The one thing we hate here is someone who is a cheater and today that cheater is you right Quigley Wheres Quigley Drop down what the hell is this not only did you cheat but you copied the wrong paper to each surf report”Yeah that If you aint cheting you aint trying came back and bit me right in the ass!!! You have to remember the part about Just don’t get caught!!! I crab walked out of the class room and the was told to hi the surf and make a sugar cookie and then I came back to class wet and sandy. I still remember looking over at my swim buddy greg Hubley who had a big dip of coppenhagen in and he could sleep with his eyes open. During our down time Gregg pulled me aside and said I want to tell you a story.

My story is about a little puppy down at the railroad tracks in new Orleans.You see this little puppy love to run along the tracks and he would watch the trains speed by. This little puppy used to love to run across the track just before the train would speed by. It gave this little puppy a rush and made him feel alive. One day the big dog sitting on the side of the track warned the little puppy and said”You keep messing around like that and your gonna wish you had not”””Poor little puppy just didn’t listen …he kept up running acroos that track right before the train sped by. One day that little puppy did not get across that track because  the train came by and cut off his tail. He says to the big dog “Man .what am I to do big dog I lost my tail and I want it back. Big Dog says you better not worry bout that tail and stop messing round with those tracks  ”Well Little Pup just could not listen and the train was coming and the pup went to get his tail and the train came by and chopped his head off this time. Now Dan, what is the morale of the story…its obvious. Never lose your head over a little piece of tail. I will never forget that story however at the time I was too far gone to stay away from the track.

 

In Class 141 we were all ready to start second phase which was no longer Dive phase it was land warfare phase. We got trained in rapelling on the wall near the obstacle coarse using what we called a swiss swing. Very Uncomfortable nut scrathing piece of rope that you looped around your legs and pulled up through your groin area and tied iyt off around your waist with a square knot. Good thing that was one of the knots I knew how to do. Then we hooked a caribeaner on the swiss swing and used some GI type green rope to rapell with. This was fun as long as you did not do anything stupid and have to do it wet and sandy. I managed to stay dry until I got to the hell hole at the top of the wall..I jump thru that hole and threw the rope out problem is my gloves were too big for my girlie hands and I let go of the rope when I threw it out the second time and I went straight on my back to the ground. I was not sure of the names of any of the Second Phase instuctors during that time but one pulled me to the side and filled my shirt with ice water and I got to watch the rest of the rapelling off the wall. I think I was more embarrassed than hurt.

 

We geared up to go to Miramar for rappelling with full gear M-16 and ruck sack , river crossing , and patrolling tactics and land navigation. This week was a pretty tough week. The name of the game was to try to stay dry as possible. We had long runs and at the end of the run was a rope you had to stay on …I remember that my handwere freezing and it was such a bitch just to hold on to that rope at the until the end of the course. Before we knew it we were getting ready to go spend 30 days on San Clemente the Island of Romance. There were good and bad times out there. We ate good…we did fifteen pull ups and 15 dips and we had to climb the rope before each meal. We cammied up one night and crawled up into small Black Helicopters and practiced insertion and extraction. The instructors had bags of flower that they would throw down upon any squad that was not being stealthy enough..and they would drop the flour on the back of your legs. The air from the helo blades felo like the skids were landing right on you but we knew not to move. If you came back with flour on your greens your squad hit the surf. We did runs on San Clemente that seemed to take forever but the one thing that really stays with you is the 5 mile swim around from the research pier and back around to BUD/S compound. I had never seen so much kelp in my life and that damn water was not toasty warm it was fricking cold. This is really bad but I can not remember who my swim buddy was out at the Island. I can see his face but cant remember his name. I just remember finnaly getting to the end of the swim and stumbling up on the beach and I had to pea soo bad that instead of pissing on the beach I pissed all over my hand that were freezing. My hands always gave me problems in training .Perhaps they would have in Dive Phase as well if I ever made it back to pool comp that I was still dreading down the road.

 

We did on line fire during the day at San Clemente. We shot M-14s, M-16s andM-60s. I don’t even remember the hand guns we used. We got to do on line fire at night. This was a rush. The thing is when you get done at 10 that night you have to stay up late and clean your weapon…during that time your supposed to be studying everyaspect of that weapon…muzzle velocity, weight type of round it fires and the weight of the weapon. We were told to clean our weapon and know our weapon. Most of the guys in Class 141 listened. A couple of us did not. I remember having to hit the surf cuz my m-16 was dirty but I just figured that with a white q-tip a few of us would get called out anyway. Well I did not bank on the test we were about to go thrugh that I never thought anyof us would fail. But then the Instructors started talking about safety violations and blank rounds being in some of the automatic weapons….Now I knew all these procedures…Always when you approach a weapon ensure you look down the barrel to see if any rounds are in the chamber. The Instrucors would be asking you questions while you brike down the weapon if you got that far. You were allowed two safety violations but if you stuttered and showed weakness or answered in the form of a question you might attract attention to your self…I approached the M-60 and lifted the cover and the slide went forward and the blank round in the chamber popped “That’s One” and then the barrage of questions what is the muzzle velocity of the M-60 rifle? Dye dye dye and that’s two get out of here crab walked out of that building on san Clemente only to find my friend Scott Abbett standing out there next to me. Now Scotts father was a frogman too. He had a lot of pressure on him to get through training hell we all did. But they told Scott and I to pack our shit we were going back to Coronado to see if they were going to roll us back to Clas 142 or disenroll us from training. That flight back to Coronado was humiliation all over again. The next day or so we dressed in our inspection uniform and stood tall infront of Commander Keith at different times I was rolled back into Class 142 but I later found out that Scott was dis-enrolled from training and I know he was devastated his father Art Abbet came and picked him up at BUD/S and I will never forget the disappointment on not Mr Abbets face but on my buddy Scotts. I would not find out until years later what Scott went on to accomplish. But I knew I was a roll back on thin Ice and I would have to start second phase over with a winter clas that was lean and mean and led by a young Officer named Tom Dietz…I don’t remember the leading Petty Officers but I knew That my old Buddy from Gun School and Class 131 was going to be finishing Hydrographic Recon soon and we would be back in business. I remember a Chief Horner coming up one day and saying Oh my Quigley and Quinn back together again just like old Times eh. Well I was off to a rocky start.

 

During my down time Layla and I had split up and she moved in with a guy that had just got off the Teams. I went on leave for a couple of weeks and I came back and I noticed things were different and I was talking with my buddy Randy Roush and I was arguing with him about Layla because he was saying shes no good for you etc etc and I said Hey she is just moving in with that dude its not like she is marrying him…he quickly retorted with “She already did Quig!” My heart sank I felt he had punched me in the stomache. It was terrible it was awful I lost all hope of us getting back together.I lost hope of that crazy girl coming back to me. I hated her because I had been in lust with her I thought it was love but it was lust that’s all. Weeks went by and she did not contact me but then it happened …we met between The end of Coronado and imperial beach starts. It was there that she tried to hide the big rock that that ex frogman bought her. It was  a $4000 ring that I could not stand to look at. The thing is Layla was crazy and she still wanted to see me. Like the fool I was with nothing better to do I met her at my place in Coronado, I met her at my friends place in Imperial Beach, I went to the house she was staying in and jumped off a balcony to get away like a theif in the night. Yeah I was a creep with no self-esteem or couth. I went as far as to tell her that I hated to see her with that wedding ring and to take it off…when she did I slid it in my coin pocket of my Levis and when she accused me of stealing it I told her to check my pockets in wwhich she didand found nothing. She said Joe is gonna kill me when he sees it gone. Good I thought cuz your killing me Lady!

The first day I was to start up with Class 142 I was late to an inspection. I had gone out the night before and I was drinking too much and I stayed out late with a “friend” of mine who said she would wake me in the morning. I got back up to the BUD/S Compound when I saw Mr. Dietz and the boys crossing over 75 on there way to the chow hall. I once again had messed up while on thin ice. Being late for the inspection was somehow swept under the rug but it was definitely not forgotten. We went thru the rappelling training at BUD/S again and jumping thru the hell hole on the wall and then we were off to Mirimar again for the river crossing ,patrolling training and land navigation. It was out at Miramar that I was pulled aside by Lt.  William Koenig. “Quigley,  get over here! Do you know a guy named Soto. I said yes I did…”well he said that you been seeing his wife and that you stole her wedding rings “ Is that true? No sir he does not know what hes talking about….there was a long pause as he looked me dead in the eyes and he leaned forward to me and said”You don’t like yourself too much do you Quig” I did not know how to respond before I did he said”Get out of my sight”. I did not redeem my self much until a day later when we were learning patrolling and hand signals and we strated receiving over whlming fire.the officer wanted to keep us down in the water but I was yeeling at everyone to get out and run out of thereI was rear security and I felt like I took charge. Lt Koenig noticed and said :Who is rear security on this squad?... good job getting everyone up out of there. That was a very rare time in BUD/S that I really felt I was doing things right. I lasted until the end of the week where when I returned to Coronado I took the wedding rings to my friends apartment and I told them to tell her they found them in one of the plants near the night stand that she set the rings on. Yeah I dodged that bullet but then I was pulled aside by our proctor a guy named Frank Bosia and he basically told me look if you have these problems here in BUD/S you are going to bring these problems to the Teams and we really don’t need this kind of shit so pull your head out of your ass and get your shit together…I still was arguing with him Oh well she was my girlfriend first before she was his wife and shes the one who kept wanting to see me. Yeak talk about letting all your cards show I was bawling and Instructor Bosia was having none of it.”pull yourself together go wash your face or something ..I don’t know what but I knew That was strike three and the day before we were going back out to San Clemente Island I was called to put on my inspection Greens and report to the Quarterdeck. I knew I was not gonna like what was coming up …it was gonna suck and I was not gonna like it one bit. I was led into a room with Lt Koenig, Commander Keith, Petty Officer Bosia and a few others I cant recall. Commander Keith began the meeting with it has come to our attention that you have been having problems in training therefore we are disenrolling you from training and you will be sent to the fleet and perhaps you will have matured a bit by then…or something to that effect. ‘Do you have anything that you would like to say on your behalf” Yes sir I would. “I Have been in The special Warfare Community for over two years and I never quit this training I never gave up and I want everyone in here to know that” Ok your dismissed I did a left face walked to the door opened it up swiftly and I slammed it as hard as I could . I heard someone yell Hey!!! And then I ducked down into the janitors closet as I saw three or four frogmen jogging out into the compound looking for me..After I saw they were gone I ran to the barracks and grabbed my hemet and painted it all red….nobody was gonna put my hemut under that damn bell I did not ring it . And then I finally went to the infirmary a little office outside of the old barracks and I sat on a bed in there and I was crying uncontrollably telling one of the Cheifs how I never quit this training and there must be something wrong with me I just couldn’t and would not accept it.So they agreed to send me to North Island to talk to a therapist and he said there is nothing wrong with you young man you are just distraught about being kicked out of BUD/S. The following day I pleaded with Commander Keith not to send me to the quitters barracks I just could not handle that. He agreed to send me to the Transient Personel Unit and I got to work for a guy at the Naval Amphibious Base Armory. I was cutting the lawn at the Armory and I noticed a ceremony going on up the beach a ways when I realized that it was Class 141 Graduauting from BUD/S and I had to tell the armorer that I just could not stay I had to get out of there right away.he understood and I did not have to return to work until the next day. I got on the phone with a Master Chief in DC and I was telling him I though it was crazy for the to send me to the fleet after I had been in the Spec War Community for so long. Well he disagreed and said we will send you where the Navy needs you ..I knew I was back in the blackshoe navy and I better get used to it….I never did. I thought I was too cool for school. I hung up on the Master Chief after he told me I was going to a ship he said you will go there and I said we will see about that and I hung up on a Master Chief…I should have Thrown in the brig for that as well. But he had better plans for me.

 

 

Chapter 3 

Vieques, Puerto Rico

That’s what my orders read. In the meantime Layla got in trouble with the US Navy and was busted from an E-4 Engineman to an E-3.  She also was confined to the base for a while until she was processed out of the Navy. Being the broken man that I was I still wanted to take her with me to Georgia. The Plan was that we would go to Colorado and pick up my motorcycle and stop in Kentucky to see her folks and then go to Georgia for Layla to meet my sister and my Mother. Then she wa going to drive back to California with the truck that I was making payments on. I remember driving across the Rockies with a woman that hated the mountains and hated being on the road just as much. I remember in Denver my buddies were wondering what the hell I was doing with a girl like her. They did not approve. I  picked up my bike in Denver and rode to Kentucky to meet her Mom…it was all so uneventful….seemed like they did not even hug when they saw each other and then we went to Gramma and Grampas house kind of like we were going to see her neighbors or something….oh and her dad…nowhere to be found…talk about dating a woman that did not get enough of her daddys attention…There you go. And then for the final straw. We headed to Georgia where my sister Mary had her figured out in within 30 minutes of meeting her. I really don’t remember my Mothers introduction to Layla only in that it was awkward to see this woman that I had loved and hated for a few years of my life meet this lady that I had loved and respected all of my life. Afew days later my Mom asked me to walk down to the mailbox with her. Now my Mom lived in a house down  a dirt road off the highway and usually she drove out to get the mail. Today she said “Come and walk with me” and I knew something was up .  Halfway down the drive my Mother said “Dan I have never told you to do anything this way or thatbut I will tell you one thing….if you let that woman take your truck back to California you might never see her or your truck ever again” I said Mom you have never given me bad advice before so I will fly her back to San Diego tomorrow. The next day we loaded up her suitcase in total silence and we drove from Athens Georgia to Atlanta Airport in total silence. When she got out at the airport she did not hug me or anything she just said Dan maybe when you get to Puerto Rico you will grow up some. She slammed the door and just like that she was out of my life.

 

I went back to my Moms and parked my truck in the carport and my Motorcycle was there too the same bike I road when I went AWOL. Before you knew it I was flying out of Atlanta myself. This time I was heading somewhere I had never been before. San Juan Puerto Rico…well flying it it was pretty enough…could see the beaches from the plane and then we landed in San Juan right when the sun was going down …I took a shuttle from the airport to Rosey Roads and I checked into PSD and they said well we can set up up for the night but this is  not your final destinsation…You are stationed on the island of Vieques and so you wont go there until the morning…so I waited for the YFU as they called it and a first class blackshoe sailor with his gut hanging out over his belt came to greet me and asked if I was Quigley. I said yes he introduced himself and I still don’t remember his name…was a nice enough fellow but I was checking it all out taking it all in …. We got on the ferry is what I call it with civilian and military vehichles alike. I saw this guy in greens and he was smoking a Marlborro Red and I said Hey Man can I get one of those from you…he fumbled at his pocket and produced the pack and leaned over to give me a ciggarrete and I said whats your name . Ed Hill he said …Where you from Ed? “Isle of Palms South Carolina…Where is that …Right near Chareston …I should have asked him “Where is Charleston?” I really probly did not know at the time….I just knew I was headed into the great unknown.

When I got to Naval Ammunition Supply Depot Vieques I really thought my life was over. Thing is my life was about to influence two peoples lives significantly. I was an E-3 and I was assigned to a room with four guys in it…We lived in one long barracks and we had a chow hall and a mini ex-change and our admin and security was all in one building. The Seabees (Ed Being one of them ) had a place to gas up the vehichles and work on trucks and fork lifts. We also had a little enlisted mens club that all the local Puerto Rican Girls would come to and dance and drink and have fun. I was so gun shy that I pretty much swore off woman for a couple months. I remember how great I slept by myself for the first time in years on the La Isla Bonita(Vieques). There are two main towns on Vieques. Isabelle Segunda and Esperanza. We had a daily excursion to Isabell Segunda and Esperanza and at first the Island is quite lovely. That is until you get the vibe that all the locals really does not want the Navy There and they only tolerate us for the time being. I got that vibe real quick and pretty much stayed on base and went to the enlisted mens club to drink Jack and coke ans eat shrimp scampi and talk to Carmen who was the bartender.

One day while I was down getting one of the trucks fueled up I ran into Ed Hill again. He had told me that he did some underwater welding at a school in Europe and how cold the water was but he had to do it because he paid so much to go to the school. I asked Ed If he really like being a Seabee and he said it was pretty boring especially where we were stationed at the time. I asked Ed if he ever considered going to SEAL training …I don’t even remember what he said but I told him that if he ever did I would help him to get in shape before he went if He was interested. Ed would get nervous and beads of sweat would form above his upper lip. And I knew all along that Ed was a bad ass and so I told him “The First thing you need to do is to grow a mustache” “a Mustache he yelled what the hell do I want to do that for.  I said “Don’t ever let them see you sweat the load” and with Ed they didn’t. We ran. Did push ups, chase the rabbits, eight count body buiders and we ran and did jump jacks and tons of back flutter kicks and sit upsand dips and pull ups. I was only 155 lbs Ed was 185. He slimmed down real quick. I was a running fool…Ed had a lot more weight to carry…so I ran his dick in the dirt. Ed and I were the best of friends. He had a girl named Winnie in Isle of Palms that he would call religiously. She even came out to see him for a week or so. I had to go to Roosevelt Roads to the Navy Exchange to get some uniforms and supplies. I did not have much regular Navy clothes so I had to stock up and I was bout to be frocked as an E-4. That’s right third class Gunners Mate in the United States Navy and I still had it made in the shade I was not on a ship I was on an Island. Kind of like San Clementes beautiful twin. It really was exactly opposite of san Clemente but I dreamt of both of them often . I was at the Navy Exchange and that is where I got in line and grabbed a magazine and started fliclipping through it. I really noticed the white uniforms that this lady was purchasing in front of me before I noticed her.Remember I had sworn off women for some time because I was very gun shy from Layla. Well lets just say that did not last long when I first saw this beautifully tan 5 foot five brown eyed beauty that stood before me…I looked up once at her and she smiled at me. I quickly looked back at the magazine only to look up again and ask her…are you in the Navy?  “Yes she said’ Wow I thought you were a local or something. Thanks I think she replied…You not stationed here on Rosey Roads are you …No Im over on the Island of Vieques … Oh yeah she said”I heard about you guys over there” Then we were both flirting yeah what did you here knowing that I was just another blackshoe on an Island of Misfits that really did not want to be in the Navy anymore of just got sent there by bad luck ….or was it good. Maybe if you come back for a few days I can show you around the Island. That sounds good…then there I was again. And I don’t even remember getting her name.

 

The next time I saw her she was there at the Baskin Robbins getting some ice cream. Yeah I tried to play it cool and prtend I did not see her but befor e I knew it we were engaged in a conversation that she asked if I could come over to the mainland for the weekend and she would take me to El Yunque and the beach in Luquillo. I was all for it..so Friday rolled around and she picked me up in Fajardo. She had a two or three year old girl in the car with her and I asked is this your girl and she goes no its just a friend of mines girl…do you like kids and I probly answered with the usual smart as answer of “Yeah, sure as long as they are someone elses” Gail was gorgeous. She was charming and she would look at you when she spoke to you and she always seemed generally interested in what you were saying. The first place I remembered going was to El Yunque and then Playa Azul in Luquillo Puerto Rico. Gail lived at 2103 playa Azul right on the beach in a high rise. Yeah I had died and gone to heaven. I remember opening the drapes in her apartment and the ocean breeze came in off the beach and you could hear the ocean and the waves rolling up on the beach. We basically hung ou thte first night and I remember her giving me the couch. The next day we walked around the market in Luquillo and I got a few things. That night we got ready to go to a club right off base  and Gail wore a dress that I will never forget. She was short and curvey and tan and she wore a red dress with two holes on each side that shoed her perfectly toned sides. Yeah she was all that and we drank and we danced and had a great time. When we got home I still go the couch. I was intrigued though …The next day out of all the things we had to go to a wediing reception and I rememeber meeting a few a Gails friends. Later that evening she took me to Fjardo so I could catch the YFU to go back to Vieques. Then I was back in the barracks and I went to talk to Ed Hill and I told him …Hey man, I think Im in trouble. You see I met this girl on base and so on and so fourth and then Im back in the thick of it all. Well this time I was gonna be smart about things. That is not what happened. I wnet back to Rosey Roads on a weekend to get frocked as a third Class Gunners Mate and I was in the barracks right there by the bay on base….Little did I know there was a Special Warfare Detachment right there at Rosey Roads. I was at the barracks one evening and I heard a familiatr voice from the past. It was like the first Sprinsteen song I ever heard coming from the mouth of my old Class 141 swim buddy Greg Hubley. “What in the hell are you doing here” No the question is what are you doing here Quigs…Im stationed on the Isalnd of Vieques. ‘Greg said he was right down here doing some training on Rosey Roads….He didn’t say Spacial Warfare Detachment or Seal Team 4 he just said im down here doing some training. We talked for a while and talked about old times and how things were so different since we had got out of BUDS and I expressed that I really hated the regular Navy but It could be worse I could have been sent to a ship. Greg just said Hey Quig, being on the TEAMS is great and all but one thing is you are still in the Navy. Now I have heard from others that Greg Hubley was a good operator but he just was not that hip about being in the Navy. He had other things in mind. Brian Schadd was also there that night. I did not know Brian that well and I only remember talking to Greg for what seemed only about a half hour…he had to get some zzs because they had to get up early …I didn’t have to get up early …I just had to go to a frocking ceremony get my crow and head back to Vieques the next morning.

 

So I continued to see Gail and we grew closer. I went to her apartment one night and she offered me some champagne and I said sure and popped the cork…I then offered her some and She said no I cant have any it might hurt the baby…I choked on my champagne and spit most of it on her carpet and choked down the rest…and I said Baby she said yeah Im having a baby. I said well you know how I feel about marriage and I know how you feel about marriage…what are we going to do. Well Im pregnant and Im havingthis baby and its mine. Ok..well I just want you to know that if you need or want anything just let me know. I just want to have this baby. Ok .

When I went back to Vieques the next day I told my good buddy Ed Hill what happened. He was talking about child support and all and I explained that she did not want my help. She wanted to have a baby. I did not know the half of it then but that is a part of my story that leads to the much bigger picture that I have been searching for throughout my life. Sometimes we really need to take ourselves out of the story and just look at the many ways or lives touch other lives.  Gail wated to do most of this on her own so she only called me if she had questions about my family history with mental health alcoholism what my blood type was etc. I gave her any info willingly. I remember being on watch one night and Gail called and asked me lots of questions about my family history. I answered all of them as she went thru the questionare. After the conversation was winding down she said “ I really did not think you were going to answer all the questions” I basically told her “That’s because you really don’t know me that well…I meant what I said that if youever need anything let me know.”  I tried to go over and see Gail a couple of times during her pregnancy but one time at work she wasn’t feeling well and asked me to not come by her work…and to top things off I showed up one day at 2103 Playa Azul in Luquillo and one of her “friends” asked who I was when I asked if Gail was there and she quickly came out and said Dan you cant be here you really need to leave. 

 

It was all too familiar …the rejection the assuming that things are like this in your head but in reality things are different. I went back to Vieques and I put things together in my head and once again I was back down in the pit. I am pretty sure I drank everyday and I must have gained ten to fifteen pounds drinking beer and Jack and cokes. On Vieques we worked in the bunkers counting outdated ammo and then load it on a truck and move it to another bunker using trucks and forklifts….So I had become a proficient forklift operator…The funny thing is I remember a lot of operators on SDV Team one saying to people they meet “Im a forklift driver” but they were using that as a cover… I really had taken on the roll. We had a two week period in which we were really humping and bumping to get some ammunition off the Island and onto a few ships. We would load the ammunition over cargo nets wrap them up and then a long pole extended to the belly of a helicopter would come in a scoop it up and fly it to the nearby ship. I was only a third class Gunners Mate then so I did a lot of banding up the ammo on pallets and getting it ready but this one Second Class Gunners Mate stole the fun of hooking the ammo onto the helo. I wanted to do that…little did I know that I would get my wish soon enough.

In Vieques I did get to lead PT in the morning. I loved that but these were a ragtag bunch of guys that were really ready to be out of the Navy or off the Island of Vieques so PT was always short and sweet with them. I still made sure I smoked them on the runs and rub it in a little bit by being back at the finish line smoking a Marlburro when all my Island Buddies got back from their walk /runs. I continued to work out with Ed Hill and before you know it he had got his order to go to BUD/S . NOW, this is one thing I am really proud of. I had talked Ed Hill into ditching his Sea Bee outfit and go try something that I knew beyond any doubt that he would succeed in.

I went over to Rosey Roads at the Hospitol to give blood. While standing in the foyer I saw a short pretty girl pushing a stroller up into the doors of the Hospitol. I was leaning on the wall and I froze and my knees went weak and then she saw me and I saw her.

It was Gail and she said simply “Hey, Dan! You want to come over and see the baby “ I said Yeah sure if you want me to…and she said of course. I knelt down and she said this is Alexis Renne. I was speechless but manged to say she has the most beautiful blue eyes I have ever seen.Gail said without a delay “Yeah, she got them from her daddy”

Ok so Im not a smart man but I was totally confused …before you know it she said ..well we got an appointment and my van was leaving to go back to the YFU and over to Vieques. I had about three more months and I was getting just a bit too comfortable on Vieques. I could have extended a year there and finished my Navy tour there . But I remember I joined the Navy because I wanted to serve my country and travel around the world and learn about differnet cultures .How was I going to do that if I stayed there. So, I made a decision that I was going to face my fears of going to the regular Navy and go on board one of those ships and before I knew it I had orders to Charleston SC. When I was processing out I had run into Gail again at PSD. She and I got copies of our orders hers to Bruswick Main and Mine to the USS Santa Barbara( The Patron Saint of Storms) and there was a storm coming. Gail and I went to the Naval Exchange where we met and had lunch. She talked soo much about how Alexis had features so much like mine. “She has long fingers and long toes and she is growing so fast etc and I was so full of emotion with all she was telling me.trying to keep my poker face or lack thereof and then we exchanged copies of our order to get in touch if need be. And just as she had picked me up 9 months earlier in Fajardo she dropped me off on base to go back over to Vieques. I was about to go see what it was like to be a real Sailor.

Chapter 4

The USS Santa Barbara AE-28

So just as I started in Puerto Rico at Rosey Roads and was in the wrong place the same thing happened in Chareleston. I had to wait a couple of weeks for my ship to come in and I was told that my ship could not pull into Charelston Harbor and that I would be meeting up with my ship at Monks Corner, SC. Ok so I don’t know much about the regular Navy and I was wondering why my ship could not come into the Charleston harbor and then I just reasoned that it had lots of ammunition on it that would not be safe to bring into port near a metropolitan area. So I hung out in Charleston with all the other lonely squids and I frequente the strip clubs their. I was convinced that a stripper downtown was in love with me…I just could not figure out why she kept wanting me to buy a 100 dollar bottle of champaigne and go to the back room. I found out later in life that there is no sex in the champagne room. Before long I was ready to report to my ship.

The first guy I met on the pier that day was a dumpy looking dude named Wyatt. Yeah I have a memory with names…unfortunately so do others I have run into during my experiences in the United States Navy. On ehting you don’t want to hear too often while in the service is your name …try to stay as low profile as you can. I checked on board the ship and the guys in personeel did not know what to think of me.All they saw on personell records was BUD/S…SDV TEAM ONE….BUD/S ..Roosevelt Roads then The Santa Barbara? They did not know what to think but scuttlebutt goes around a ship faster than fire in the engineroom. I knew better than to claim to be a SEAL because that was beat in our heads at BUD/S not to claim to be something you were not. Even at SDVTEAM ONE they issued windbrekers with a Trident on them that I refused to wear because I never earned that trident. Some of the techs wore them and I looked at them with disdain and probly even said a snide remark or too.

  Getting back to my check in process one of my first memories on the ship was reporting to the XO s office and this Lieutenant Commander Jones was a mean black guy that hated everyone and he made all of our butts pucker with the sound of his voice. I did not figure out why all my new shipmates were soo scared of this cake eater until the day he called me out in his office. “Where is Petty Officer Quigley? Here sir I raised my hand …Front and center …Yes sir.”Do you know an LTCMDR Joseph Yarburough. Yes sir he was acting CO at SDVTEAM ONE when I was stationed there…He smiled with Grinch like smile and said ‘I put him thru SEAL Training” Thats when I saw that solid Gold Trident Underneath his surface warfare pin” Ok so I don’t know uniform regulations but I was always told that the Trident goes over all other Insignia. Perhaps it depends on where your stationed at the time…I just knew that LTCMDR Ed Jones was going to be watching me like a hawk and my life on board his ship would be more of a challenge than I thought it would be.

My new shipmates did not know what to think of me. I was a third class Gunners Mate with no Maritime experience. I did volunteer to form a color guard and that came in handy when we finally deployed. Most of June and July we spent loading stuff on the USS Santa Barbara. We had get to gethers before we deployed but they all seemed geared toward the guys with families that were deploying…I felt I had little in common with most of the guys I ws about to do a 6 month cruise with. It was 1988 and I was on the back of a ship with a hole bunch of ammo on the back and they gave me a gun …a barcode reader that they told me don’t look at the infa red light  and don’t point this into anyones eyes. Everypalet full of bombs ammunition ordanence etc We ant you to scan…Easy enough right. Never been so bored in my life and I was out there from 9am until 8 pm loading pallets…All I had to do was scan them and that song came back to me” I want to be in the frogman Navy don’t want to be in the black shoe Navy I got balls and Im much to crazy blackshoes are much much to lazy” Ok so not in this case. The guys on my ship worked their asses off and did not get a lot of credit for their hard work…Not that my inexperienced Sailors eye saw at first. There were other guys that drove the forklifts which I never cared for that much. They would drive them from the helo pad thru the bay doors and to the middle part of the ship. Then one of the guys wouls open up the cargo doors and load the ammo…pull across a safely wire and then yell something to a second class that was waiting down in the hold for the pallets to come down, Then they would unload the pallets and put all things in like a puzzle securing them with aluminum stations.

There was so much more going on on the USS Santa Barbara that I did not know about. But I found out very fast that it is better to get along and go along than to try to be an individual on board a ship that’s about to go on deployment.

I had so much to learn before our Med cruise (AS they called it) and that’s what I thought it would be like…I was in for a rude awakening. I tried to carry around a tablet with pen and take notes when I saw a certain type of drill going on unless it was general quarters. I took notes while watching a division doing a fire drill and I took notes when I watched the security team break out shotguns and forty five during security alert drills. Thing is people started making comment like I was Naval Investigative Service…Almost got in a fight with a young E-3 and he said “I aint afraid of no SEAL pussy!” So basically I had guys thinking I was a SEAL and an NIS agent  and I really did not tell many of the guys my story. But on a ship scuttlebutt travels like wild fire and loose lips sink ships and mine was about to go down …that is after I got to visit some places in the Med. The trip over took 15 long days. We left out of Monks Corner and near Charleston under the Cooper River Bridge and we were off. Yeah, Haze grey and underway and I was wondering what the hell I had got myself into this time. I had been frocked as an E-5 weeks before we deployed so I did not have to stand too many watches on duty days. There was only one day on the way over to the Med that we hit rough sees and so I tried to get to the middle of the ship face forward and ride it out. After a while the seas calmed and I felt fine stuck my head outside and got some fresh air. One of the signal men told me about going on the top of the ship above the Signal mans Shack at night and check out the stars. I Had never fell so small in my life looking up at all the stars and I had never been able to see the stars so vividly in my life. It was one of the few things that helped me keep my sanity on that ship of fools that I felt I was on and I was the jester…especially after what happened to me.

I was put in charge of the ordinance handling crew.  These were basic wires and cables and cargo nets that we would wrap around bombs or crates of ammo and fly off the back of our ship by helo and transferred to another ship. I had four guys working with me three third class Petty Officers and one seaman. I found out I could take University Class while out at sea so I was taking an American history class.   On a calm day out at sea somewhere we stopped out in the middle of nowhere and we had a crableg fiest on the back of the ship. One of the Chief allowed us to get the shotguns out and we were shooting skeet of the back of this ship. Ok so my blackshoe views are beginning to change just a bit…Ok so its not a MAC 10 but I am no longer in Kansas but Im okay..for now that is. 

We went thru the Straights of Gibralter and everything seemed a bit calmer on borad. The water was turning seemed to be turning a more bluish green and it was not as windy. Then we were going to our first port. Aplace called Bandol, France. Then we went to San Remo, Italy. I did not understand why we had to anchor out in a harbor and take a Liberty Boat from the ship to the dock. I did not know what we may or may not have on board out vessel….No really I was in the dark again. I volunteered to be a part of a Color Guard and this was a privledge . So one thing I learned from SDV_TEAM ONE I took with me here. We Used two M-14s American Flag and a Navy Flag and I insisted on being one of the rifleman because I got to teach this other young sailor how to have sling the rifle around from order arms to right shoulder arms… you kick the rifle down at your side kick it with your heel on the butt of the rifle causing it to swing back and then with momentum of it going forward and the help of you left hand you swing the rifle up to right shoulder arms…The two outer rifleman are doing this maneuver simultaneously and looks very sharp. We had to form our Color Guard once and March down the streets in San Remo I think it was and people were lined up on both sides of the street and they were clapping and saying things in English like welcome Americans…this was surreal this was like a fourth of July celebration in October. We marched all the way to a Ctholic Church where we lowered our riflles and went into the churck and lowered our flags and went to port arms. And a semi parade reat during the Mass…ok so this was all very familiar to me and the other Gunner Gonzales because we made the sign of the cross even though we felt strange about having the flags and guns inside the church during this mass. When the Mass was over we went out the same way and the same thing people lined the side of the streets while the Color Guard and selected member of our shipmates marched behind us back to the Liberty Boat and then we went back to the ship.  Another night we were in Naples Italy and we went to a place that had a live joust and then someone came by and asked if we wanted our picture taken and they would ask and even if you said no they would take it anyway. I don’t remember if I had learned something in BUDS about not letting people take youer picture overseas..but I remember being very uncomfortable with it. I think it was a night out in San Remo where things once again went sour.  I decided it might be ok to get to know some of my shipmates better and go out for  a few drinks at a local squid hang out….one thing led to another and an Older Salty Dog Hull Technitian didn’t seem too like my converstion came up to me and my friend that I was talking to and He had his long ass skinny finger around my throat and was telling me he was gonna kill me”.  Now, I have been known to piss off some frogmen in my past and I got lucky that I did not get my ass kicked then. Well lady luck seved me again and a black guy that I did not even know came to my rescue and got the Salty Dog to release my skinny ass and I feel to the floor probly starting back into my rant about how much I hated the regular navy and blackshoes. Thing that I did not realize then is that I was a blackshoe now and I did hate myself for letting that happen…If I only would have not been such a wise ass , If I only would hve been more of a team player than an individual ….If I only would have only stayed in the barracks at BUD/S and studied instead of chasing the girls on and off base. Ended up we all had to go to Captain Mast in the next week…well I was two for two One Color Guard and now a Captains Mast …I was very familiar with this. The thing is this time the Captain asked what I had to do with this and I just told the Captain that the salty dog grabbed me arounfd the neck and choked me and said that he was gonna kill my nigger ass.” Yeah we were all confused as well but we were sure that he was yelling at me and choking me but directing the racist comment to the Brothers that I was smoking the Newports with. The guys on the ship could not believe that I repeated verbatim to the Captain exactly what the Salty Dog Hull Tech had said to me. Our Captain was not having none of this and he took a stripe away from that Second Class Hull Tech.

One day I was in the break room and I was smoking a cigarette.  A voice came up behind me and it was that Executive Officer LTCMDR Ed Jones and he leaned in and asked me with his big Grinch smile. Hey there Petty Officer Quigley where do you plan to put those ashes?” I slowly sat up in more of an attention position and I tapped the ash into my palm and looked up at him” He just shook his head back and forth and said “Carry On then” On Sundays we had mass on the Ship and Ed Jones always attended mass…however he was not to hip on singing….I always sat next to the Senior Chief of First Division and proudly sang with him. LTCMDR Jones had run into me once during an Ammunition moved and asked me if I wanted to be on the Personal Reliability Program and I told him I did not know what that was and he smiled with his Grinch smile and said it is the program that allows you access to all of the cargo holds on our ships and being that we may or may not have had nuclear weapons on board I knew what he was asking of me. No really I never knew whether or not we had that on bored. But I found out that I was put on the PRP program by Ed Jones but I did not know that until months later. 

 

 

We had a lot of characters on board the USS Santa Barbara that I loved and I hated. We had the Wise brothers, a Senior Chief Boatswains mate and his son were onboard. A Second Class signal man that was a conscientious objector. I even wrote a letter for hin to get out of the Navy because I figured if he was fighting with me and was not willing to shoot anyone I really don’t want him on my six if you know what I mean. We had guys that may have been alcoholics and guys that probly were. Hell I went to a few AA meetings myself until I realized that I was an Adult Child of an Alcoholic so I stopped going to the meetijgs and let myself go on that technicality however I did stop, drinking, smoking and I was dipping for a short time until I gave that up as well.

I really started to make a change…I started to iron my shirts…polish my boots…set the example for my guys…I started studying a lot in my history books from class and my Bible and I started reading into all the songs I had sang in church and I really started to look at everything in more of a literal sense….No this is not the part of the book where I say I found Jesus and I think you should too but this is the beginning of the end of my short stay on the USS Santa Barbarra.  My friend Noche kept on telling me “Quig all I really want is a six coarse meal” Everything and anything that anyone said to me seemed to be like something I needed to remember or was intended to be a hint or a a guide to what I was about to go thru. I was not sleeping much and I was finding work to do all over the ship.I would work out constantly and I was sleeping very little. I had Quarterdeck watch one night in Cartegena Spain. I had on my dress blues and some boots that I had worn with my cammies at SDVTeam one that were broken in just right. I had my pants tcked into my boots for some strange reason and I did not have my p-coat on. I had a shotgun slung over my right shoulder while on watch. It was the midwatch and I was on high alert…I was cold as hell but I was dry so I knew that I could handle it. I kept on looking out at the harbor and seeing these small boats in front of the ship in the harbor and I refused to believe that they were fisherman. For some reason I started to think that they were there on purpose and perhaps they were watching us .Then something strange happened… I was so cold and could not go back to the berthing area to get my p-coat so I started praying on watch…Come Holy spirit fill the Hearts of you faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love …before you  know it mt prayers were answered. Some people might say heightned awareness some might say spiritual emergency  but I will just say that I prayed and got instant gratification and I was no longer cold. I felt as if electricity was flowing from my lungs to my feet and I cried because for me that was justification and proff that there is a God that some of us seek for …No this is still not the part where I ask have you found Jesus yet .Thats is your business…The profound effect it caused me to cry because all along I had belived in God and now I had a lttle more to believe in. I wasn’t out of the woods yet or off that watch because an old  EOD/SEAL that just happened to be on watch that night with me asked me if I was alright I proudly wiped my eyes and said Senior Chief I have never been better. I pulled my self together and then about 4 in the morning when my mid watch was nearing its end I saw a sunrise that forever changed my life…no I wasn’t the born again Christian…no everything has not gotten easier soince that moment but it was at that moment I realized that I better keep believing that I can be someone special.I just have to find out what my mission will be…First I had to drag myself away from that sunrise and that total euphoria I was feeling and try to get a couple hours of sleep.

So the next day or so were kind of blurry. My guys let me take it easy on a day we were supposed to be doing Preventive maint on the Ordinance Handling Gear and Noche made me sit relax and listen to some music with his headphones…I sat and I wept and they all just did their work and guarded the door and let me cry.  I blew it when I took my briefcase which was really a cassette holder full of notes that I had been taking on the ship to the Weapons Officer and told him to please hide all my note for me and I would explain it to him some other time. Well just as Instuctor Bosia did at BUD/S when I lost it this Lt had to let the new XO know that there was something definitely wrong. I was informed by the Master at Arms that I was to report to the XOs office and wow this was all too familiar. The XO, the first Division Dept Head, the EOD/SEAL Senior Chief and the Weapons Officer and the Chief Corpman were all up in the XO office. TheXO said Please have a seat Petty Officer Quigley…so whats been going on the last couple of days the Weaps is saying you want some of your notes locked away and the Senior Chief saw you really upset on watch the other night …is there anything we need to know about? And being the young energetic young man I was I was eager to tell someone what happened. “I was praying on watch the other night because I was so cold and I prayed that the Lord would warm me up and then it happened…What happened replied the XO…I was warmed up …TOTAL silence in the room Is there anything else Petty Offficer Quigley you want to tell us.Yes, Ther eis a God and he  is coming again soon…Well that is all he needed to hear and he calmly said Petty Officer Quigley we would like you to go and talk to someone about this experience . We need you to get all your things together and bring it to the infirmary tonight and tomorrow we will send you to talk to someone about this.

 

So the Master at Arms came with me helped me get all my stuff together all my uniforms civies everything and bring it to the infirmary where I would have to spend the night in a room with a Corpman whose name was Loupe… we sang about Loupe in SEAL Training … Ok so at this point nothing is coincidental…everything is for a reason.

 

When I first met Loupe that sweet girl of eight

She swang to and fro from the Old Garden gate

The crossbar flew open the upright went in

And ever since  then shes a welcher of sin

 

So I had not been sleeping at all why would I be able to sleep tonight  especially since Loupe was in the room. The thing is the Three first classes that worked in Weapons Division were to spend three hour watches with me. It was Clark and pendergras that I remember. Randy was worried about me.He did not know what I was going thru but I knew that this was Hell Night and I had to stay awake to make sure Loupe did not try to kill me or something…I was a bit paranoid. During the middle of the night I found a box of choc covered cherries underneath my bed. Well…nothing is coincicence and just as we ate lots of candy in hell week I decided that I better eat the candy that happened to be under the bed in the infermery under the bed on board that ship that may or may not have had nuclear weapons on board. I ate all the candy and stayed awake all night. I realized that Loupe in the song is only there to derail you from your studies and keep you from your dreams. Sweet cherry pie must be the reward but Im still trying to figure out how it fit si nto the grande scheme of things. When I made it thru the night and woke in the morning to take a warm shower I got out of the head and walked by Loupe and asked him “Why are you here Bro?” He just looked up at me didn’t say a word and walked out….that dude always freaked me out.

So then my Chief tells me I have to go get on a helicopter and go talk to someone and I was too paranoid  to get on the helo…. I thought someone was going to put a grenade on it and we were gonna crash etc etc until we got in the air I was fine and I heard the angels singing was probably Christmas music in the helicopter but this was all so surreal. I looked around the helicopter and others were on the helicopter even that scarey little alcoholic Chaplain that was on our ship….I guess that skint headed bastard was going for some counseling too.

Chapter Five

The Gig is Up!

When I first got to Rota Hospital everyone was nicey spicey. I remember a doctor asking a lot of crazy questions like “So Mr Quigley what is going on with you?” I tell my crazy story and tell them about the glow I feel in my chest and yes I am totally up in the ether so I kind of figured it was their job to bring me back down to solid ground. They asked me what time it was and I told the guy I had no Idea he told me the time and then ten minutes later he would ask me again Mr Quigley so what time is it now…I answered again with a smile I have no Idea. So I was put in a room where I was told to lay down and relax and then they came in and said they had to give me some shots…Foe some reason I was like sure no problem and I got two shots one on each cheek right on my buttocks…That’s when the fun started…they said now we are gonna lock this door is that alright with you Mr Quigley. Sure I was a feeling good and really wasn’t feeling too scared of anything. So I ws lying there noticing the hole in the ceiling tile and a pipe going through the other side of the drop down ceiling that’s when I saw the tiny little red dots in the dark where the pipe was…I was a little concerned but somehow I knew that they must have been monitoring me to see how I would react.  Then I feel a gust of air come at me and I saw what looked like a fireball come at me and I reached out at it and It dissipated ….just like in HELL week when we hallucinated on the boat we just reached out to the apparition if you will and it would disapate….So then I said “Whooo, that was real scarey” And I was laughing or chuckling by then and I wanted them to know that I was not scared. Then to top it all off a young African American nurse came in and she was so pretty and she had a gap between her teeth that you could drive a truck thru. The other thing is that I noticed a redish glow coming from two spots  on each side of her head that gave off a glow like she had horns…That’s when I basically said”Man You guys are really tripping me out now but I was still relaxed and laughing…She asked me again if I wanted to contact anyone in my family and I told her that I really needed to handle this on my own,,,Yeah I had lost it a bit I thought it was some kind of mission….some kind of test ….some kind of evolution that I just had to push thru so I kept going.

 

The next stop was my very own room with my own bed, bathroom, shower and a little bell that they explained I could use if I needed anything. Well the first visitor was a very tall Doctor with a Spanish name who really seemed interested in exactly what happened on board the ship. He had Two nurses with him One was friendly one was not….Must have been the good cop bad cop routine. Anyways. I remember explain my story again and one of the Male nurses had a tear rolling down his face. The other nurse would hardly look at me. When they left they mentioned the bell and that if I needed anything…someone to make my bed….someone to get my ice for my water all I had to do was ring that bell.

 

I was able to order the type of food I wanted  and There was a part where you has to circle M for mustard K for ketchup …S for salt and P for pepper etc…Well remember I was still out in the ether a bit so they had to continue to bring me back to earth. I was asked if I wanted to shower and I mistakenly said yes. Now strange bathrooms have never been a favorite of mine but I could not for the life of me get the room temp water coming out of the shower head to get any warmer and wouldn’t you know I basically had to take a cold shower and I think I used lotion on my hair instead of shampoo…When I got out of the shower I took a good look in the mirror. I had a two day shadow and then I looked up at my eyes and that is when it happened. I heard a sound and the mirror seemed to come out at me a bit…So I was not really ready for that one….I avoided the mirror the rest of the time I was in the bathroom. When I went to go pee another trippey thing happened. I hit the toilet ok but the rim seemed to move away from my feet. So the bathroom was not a pleasant experience. Then I dried off and went out to my bed to eat and I remember feeling like everything I did was being watched …like there was particular order in everything I was supposed to be doing..including the order in which I ate…I was never taught proper etiquete…but I do remember my buddy Noche on the ship saying…”Quig, All I want is a seven course meal.” So I thought there must be order in eating everything. I ate meat, starches then vegetables last….I had a nice slice of tomatoe in which I sprinkled salt on and ate and I swore I felt stoned as a jellyfish after that.

To top it off a nurse came in my room and he started to talk to me really fast and before long I was laughing and then I was cracking up….man what was in those brownies I had for desert!!! He left and then I noticed that my bed was still unmade so I have to admit .I rang the bell one time …And the male nurse that was not very friendly came in and said Plain as day…”Yeah, you just ring that bell” and that is when I figured it out. This was all about making it to the next step…not giving up and letting everyone do everything for you this was about getting myself better and doing exactly what these people said in order for me to get out the funny Farm…and no It aint funny one bit….I took the bell and put it in the corner…and I was saying I aint ringing that damn bell again. Then when I needed some ice water I went tout and asked the nurse if I could get some ice for myself …she said sure and told me where to get it and I helped myself…The Lord helps those who help themselves…I had always heard…Then there was a some young kids in the other room playing a board game and I sat with them and played and when they left there was a guy behind the curtain who did something to his knee and the Doctor came in and did something that made this guy howl like a wounded Elk and I felt sooo bad for this guy…I call this Compassion therapy…Then back to the dillusional Billy Squire like Everybody Wants Me and there is a really pretty nurse outside my room for the night…She kept saying outloud he better get some rest tonight he is really gonna need it. Im thinking this nurse is gonna visit me in the night etc and so goes my mind. But I go to sleep with  a kickstand and wake up in the morn with the same. Then the good male nurse comes to get me and says today I am bringing you to some different showers…Now I want you to take your time in there especially if anything comes UP… take care of it. So I did…that warm water hit me and It was like I was 15 years old and  with all the time in the world. I took care of things got out of the shower and the guy was still there and he handed me a  twin blade razor. He said I have to be here while you shave…I was like suit yourself and then I got all dried off and they gave me some really cool hospital jammies and a real nice robe and they said well we are gonna send you back to the states but first you go to Frankfurt, Germany. I stayed the night there and then they sent me to Ft Gordon, Georgia. It is an Army post right near Augusta. That is where my story continues…

 

 

The next few months would be a blur to me. There are some things that are crystal clear and others are as murky as the water in  Lake Hartwell in the summer. There was a certain nurse that greeted us that looked so familiar like if I had seen her before in a cartoon type strip that I had read before …where I do not know but I just said to myself do as your told and all will be fine and for the most part it was ….There was group therapy in the morning and occupational therapy in the afternoon….After a while they even let us go to the mall and walk around in the morning before the damn stores opened….Now I wanted to be special but not this special. We also got to go bowling…to this day I bitch about going bowling for my sanity….We also played volleyball and I was so out of it I thought the guys that were doing maintenance on the gym were there to watch over us…Might have been for all I know.   We ate good at Ft Gordon. Three squares a day and that must have been a part of the healing process although I did not know it a t the time. I ran into a girl I knew in the Navy whose boyfriend was in BUD/S around the same time I was there. He was dis-enrolled after pool comp at a 120 foot  bounce dive where he could not clear and sustained ear squeezes. This guy was well liked by his classmates and just could not clear. The question is how did he go on after that? I would like to know. I made a phone call to Gail and a guy answered the phone…Oh yeah I knew it was coming ….I asked who was that ….Oh that was my fiancé John…Oh well I just wanted to call and let you know I was stateside ….Look I don’t want to take up your time I better go …Ok well I will talk to you soon….Ok so I am in here and she is out there so who is supposed to be the crazy one….Well only time will tell on that one…That was probably the day I started dipping again …I wasn’t going to drink …I really wanted to see if the drugs the military was giving me would help me out.   We had some crazy times in the hospital…played lots of pool and we never missed a meal …It really was the best food Ive had in the military. There were even times when I could leave the post…my friend Dawn took me out a couple of times for pizza…I knew I was getting better when a guy came in fresh to the ward and he was forgiving everyone for their sin when he approached me I told him to get the hell away from me…I guess I had no compassion for the recently blasted people…One of my favorites was a guy who told me about a trip in which he took and the ground opened up before him and Satan revealed so many numerological truths to him. The first was the usual barcode…”Check this out Quig…all of the stuff is already marked by the number of the beast because all the barcodes contain the number 666 in them” Ok so that’s not all he started comparing New York to Babylon showing that they had same amount of letters in the name…Yeah he was pretty out there but he was so convinced of all he saw in the Bible and he saw that coming about. I don’t know what he was there for but if you are in the military and you have a spiritual emergency, a psychotic episode try to keep your wits about you and keep it to yourself.

I even got to take a cab to Bush Field near Augusta and fly to Athens Georgia where my mother was living at the time. Now nothing will bring you back to earth faster than being around family. I ran into my cousin Carl and he was convinced that I was faking and I just wanted out of the military…The thing is I did not know what I was faking …I just knew that I wanted to go back to the ship and then put in my request to go back to BUD/S. Well I was in for a big disappointment. The doctors had finally figured out that I had manic depression…now called bipolar disorder. I think the hardest thing for me to accept was that I really wasn’t normal. I was different and now I had papers to say that I was. I was put on a temporary disability list and was sent to Jacksonville, Florida to get processed out of the Navy. Ok so BUD/S once BUD/S twice now the United States Navy was dis-enrolling me from service. I spent a month in Transient Personnel Unit and work at the hospital on base in Jacksonville until they sent me home to Athens, Georgia to live with my mama.

 

So I got a letter from the Physical Evaluation Board that told me I was rated as a 50% disabled veteran and a few weeks later I got a letter from the department of the navy for 15,000 something dollars. Ok, so what do I do next.  I sat around a lot …thinking..watching tv …smoking cigarettes …drinking beer the usual suspects. I got bored with that and I started working for a temporary service in Athens….They sent me to work the night shift with the Certainteed Demolition Crew. Finally I got a job working in demolition..WAIT….The truth is they gave me a sledge hammer and said we want you to go over there to that furnace made of the thickest glass I had ever seen and we want you to bust it up the best you can…After that we want you to load that into the wheel barrow and roll it over to the dock over there and dump that in a dumster…That should keep you busy for a while ..Well I did that job every night for two weeks. My hands swelled up my knees swelled up and I had never had to work so hard in my life. I finally told the temp service I needed to find something else…Well lets see Mr Quigley…what are you qualified for …what did you do in The Navy….Uh I counted ammunition…ok great we will send you to a store to do inventory or set up…well it was set up and it just kept getting worse Until finally they found something that I really gave me a rush…working for Tilitski Tree service in Athens. When I first got to the job site, I met Steve Tilitski who was a soft talking good ole boy who happened to be a marriage counselor as well.  Never really felt too comfortable around him but his foreman out in the field was a Vietnam Veteran named Dale Norman. This guy was one tough and mean son of a bitch and we also had a guy that drove the grapple truck whose name was Alan. Don’t remember his last name but I remember he was a great big African American that showed up to work everyday unless it was snowing and I don’t belive that it snowed one during my short tenure at Tilitski tree. I started off like everyone on the ground crew and we had to pile it up and Alan would load up all the limbs and put in grapple truck and haul limbs away. The thicker parts of the pine were left for a guy named Pulpwood Joe….He would always ask me what the hell I was doing cutting on trees and why was I not in college…I said I never wanted to go to college and he would say “Well, do you want to do this for the rest of your life” My foreman Dale taught me a pressix not and how to get up in a tree and cut your way down…He also taught me how to top a tree out in  tree that was coming down completely this was a rush. Tree work was good as long as you had work …but like many other jobs the guy making the dinero is the guy who owns the company.

 

I finally had my own place that I was renting out on the Jackson County line right near the Goat BBQ place and the railroad tracks. I had pulled an older 1970s Model Cobia boat out of a pond and I had it on a trailer a guy let me borrow. I had plans of fixing that thing up …it did not even have a motor on it but it had the windshield and a steering whell and a cable that ran back to a lack of an engine that I had…It seemed my life was running like that as well. I wanted to get back to the ocean. My Uncle gene lived in Myrtle Beach and that was probably one of the better moves I ever made. I packed up my truck with not very much stuff just a seabag full of clthes and another parachute bag full of stuff. I think I traveled light in case my truck broke down I could leave it and take my stuff with me.

 

I think I was out in South Carolina only a couple of weeks before my Uncle suggested that we ride down to check out the campus at Coastal Carolina University. I told him that I did not think I could get into college because I never took the ACT s or any other college entrance exams. After going down to the campus I found out that I had been out of school long enough and I only had to register and I was in like Flynn. I came back a week or so later and told them I wanted to syudy Political science because back then I had big ideas about going to law school to study environmental law…oh and I wanted to study Spanish because I thought I was fluent in Spanish …I came to find out that I am not even fluent in English but I signed up for all the core classes that I needed to and I attended every class my first semester at Coastal…One of my worst decisions was to try to stay in the barracks my first semester. That really did not go over well…however I did meet Ana Maria from Peru…She was a hot Peruvian who was engaged to an El Salvadorian dude that was not in the same school.  We were really just running buddies and we came close to crossing the line of friendship but we did not. I needed to get some work at school and I got a job working at the foreign language lab with a girl named Kristi Steinbrecher…another hottie I had the pleasure of working with but we remained good friends probably because we never tried to cross any friendship lines.

We had the best Spanish teacher in the world. Professor Faye Taylor was loved or hated by many a student. Those of us who applied ourselves excelled in her classes and those who did not we would have to teach in the foreign language lab. The language lab had albums from the 60s with old Spanish songs on them Cielito Lindo  and Los Colores and their were also short stories from Spanish writers as obscure as Horacio Quiroga who wrote the haunted short story “A La Deriva” or Adrift…Quiroga was a writer from Uraguy…He was considered the Edgar Allen Poe of Spanish literature due to his haunting short stories he had written.Professor Taylor was studying Spanish literature since before I was born…She came in the room and Said” You are the future…In this room I see Ambassadors and Diplomats I see the future of my country”  I sat up a little straighter in her class…I dug a little deeper in her class. I participated more in her class.

The Other Professor that was so influential on my education was Professor James Hendersen. He was also one who had studied Latin America and also was a professor at the University of Bogota in  Colombia. He had very liberal attitudes on legalization of drugs and he meant all of them. Another influential Professor was a history Professor named Marco Denevi. Possibly one of the most brilliant story tellers I ever met. He wrote everything down for you and then you would write it down and regurgitate it on a test and boom-you got an A. Might have seemed easy but the trick seemed to me in college was just to show up to class…If you were listenening and even got most of it you could apply yourself and pass…So that is what I did. I took philosophy classes and political theory classes and did well in them because I showed up to class. I even took some Politics thru film classes in which I started to look at everything much more analytically than as black and white as I did when I was in the Navy. Most things are not black and white they are grey and it is often difficult to find out and sometimes too late when you do find out what side you think you are on. Perhaps I am still in the black and white frame of thinking. But I’m a work in progress. I almost forgot to mention my class on Constitutional Law which was a pretty touch class full of baby sharks that wanted to be lawyers and they did not care whose feelings or grade was on the line …they simply wanted to look their best for the Professor who was from Highpoint, North Carolina. He had been at Coastal for a very long time. He set up a mock court room in his class and you would have students acting as a Judge and two opposing lawyers. They would argue cases like Plessy Vs Fergussen and roe vs. Wade. Figures that I got Roe vs Wade and of course with my Catholic upbringing  I had to argue that a fetus had a right to life liberty and happiness at the point of conception…The Judge didn’t by it and I froze like a frightened young man that was about to be chewed up by a colleague. .We even took a trip to Washington DC and saw a proceeding of the Supreme Court. But my law school dreams had dissipated after my encounter with the mock Judge.

So after college I was at a loss again. I did not know what to do so I ran home to Mama again. But Mama had a new man in her life that really did not want me hanging around…I spent some time back in Madison County painting my mom’s house until I got a call from my sister Mary who suggested I load up my truck and return to Colorado….So I did. It was Fall of 1995…eleven years after my Navy Experience…I thought that once I graduated from college all the dreams about BUD/S would go away…they did not…same dream me standing there and watching my training class running from the dive tower to the obstacle course and someone saying “Wave good bye to your friends they are dead to you now” Or the repetitive dream about trying to hold your breath during pool comp. Then waking up when you come up for air and you wake up to the reality that you failed. It’s a hard pill to swallow. BUT you have to move on ….Where is my success I wondered and how is success measured I thought. Well I moved to Boulder, Colorado and I worked for a number of different companies with a temp service. I did everything from clean the tobacco stains and coffee spills off of audio books that truckers listened to to working at a place that made ankle bracelets for parolees and people on house arrest. I also taught Spanish classes while in Boulder County and I worked in Louisville as well. Now Boulder is a college town and if you aint teaching school or in school or brewing your own beer it may be a little difficult to fit in. I had a buddy that had his own business in Denver so I moved down there. I applied for a job as a teacher for a Charter School in Denver and I got the job…perhaps this was the new avenue for me. Maybe this was it. Something to define who I was. Or so I thought…I got a job at Wyatt-Edison Charter School and taught basic elementary Spanish to inner city kids. I had a minor in Spanish. I was teaching letters day of the week, months, songs, and poems to kindergarten thru 6th grade students. I lasted one year teaching and one day during lunch we were watching CNN and we saw a bunch of students running out of a Jefferson County school. This was Colombine High school that I was watching on the news…I used to swim against that school and now some young kids with guns are shooting it up along with a number of their classmates….Our school went immediately on lock down and we were in downtown Denver Public schools and Colombine was out in Littleton. After that the whole idea of teaching lost its flavor….Perhaps teaching was for the brave and the bold as well….So I am  gonna look around again. I started to work for my landlord and he employed me doing everything from painting the fences around the house to painting his office to doing mailouts for his company and babysitting his son. I did it all. Then I applied to graduate school at the University of Colorado at Denver and I was accepted. I also got a job at the local grocery store and started as a bag boy and in a month or so I was a cashier making about 14 dollars an hour. Hey things were looking good!!!!  I took most of my classes at night and studied, Urban Politics, Communal Living, European Union, China The Awakened Dragon,  Hospice, and a number of other classes that I don’t recall as well as my undergraduate studies. I became involved with a group of people that met on a regular basis and liked to dance salsa and speak Spanish neither of which I did very well but I loved to try. I had friends that were undergraduates, PHD candidates and others that already had jobs working for companies like US West/Q-West in Denver. There were two friend in particular that I thought were either married or a couple. One is my wife Nohra and the other was Carlos. Ended up Carlos was just a good friend of Nohras’ . I grew tired of working at Safeway and I had all the core credits I needed at grad school I just needed to write a thesis. I guess you could say that is a work in progress but I knew change was coming …I was 38 years old and I was living by myself and I hated it. I had so much free time and I did not know what to do with myself. I quit my job at the store and started working for a friend refurbishing houses. Yeah I was painting fool…again. I got a call one night from a friend that I met thru our group called Los Tigres and she told me that she understood what I was going thru and that she was going thru a similar ordeal. So before she could say well I gotta go I asked her if she would like to go to dinner….She said she was bored not crazy…I responded with .Well does that mean yes” I suggested we meet down at my apartment in Denver. She came down and we went to a South American food place called Piscos. She ordered a mojito and I did the same and we had a great dinner …or so I thought it was going great until we started talking about bipolar disorder. Should be my favorite subject I live it every damn day. We took a walk after dinner and I was pointing out all the Constellations I knew. Then we went back to my place and we talked until three in the morning. The next day I remember calling my mother and saying Mom. “I am in love” and I knew she was the ONE that I had been looking for…waiting for…hoping for and I was not going to let go

.

We started hanging out together on a regular basis. My friend had thought I dropped off the planet. Brian and Randi Driscoll had us over for dinner before they headed back to California. My best friend Bryan Chik had been working at Midas as a mechanic. I had complained to him about something and work and he stopped me and said” Dan , I understand that you have a disability but what makes you think that you don’t have to work like the rest of us” The money that you get each month is not going to pay the bills …you need to get a full time job” I replied that I was thinking about selling cars and he said ”You don’t know a damn thing about cars…and I replied that don’t matter I love cars …especially new ones you know with that new car smell …Maybe I can get a different car to drive home every night…So I go to 38th and Wadsworth in Wheatridge,  Colorado and meet with a guy named Joe Aragon whose real name happened to be Danny. He asked me …”So what makes you think you can sell cars …you say you don’t have any experience…just selling door to door subscriptions to the Rocky Mountain News. I told him that I knew about commitment, showing up on time, working long hours and never giving up….I told him that I never sold anything and I have no bad habbits like some of the other salesman that he might hire….he walked out of the room and whispered something to some guy in another room and came back and said”Im gonna give you a chance” But if you aint cutting it Im gonna have to let you go. I would not FAIL.

 

I thought that joining the service I met some real characters…that was until I got into sales. Talk about some boys and girls that can tell some sea stories. We had Retired Army, college students, high school dropouts and Young guys that just got their citizenship selling cars. We had managers that used to sell cars in the 80s during the heyday of the car business and they had all their stories about tripping over each other to get to customers and having three car deals in a day. That’s called a hat trick and if you plan it right it can still happen today. After getting into the car business life really started coming at me fast .  I moved from my one bedroom apartment in Denver and moved back to where I had started so many years ago sanding cars after school and then selling hotdogs at the baseball field. I moved in with Nohra because we were spending soo much time together anyway we justified it and I was happy to be out of Denver nad be living with her. We had romantic dinners in her back patio with tiki torches and we took trips down to New mexico for her test she had to take to become an interpreter and we went to Utah as well. We traveled together well and I always heard that is a good sign . I was working at the car dealership when one night about three in the morn we got a call from Colombia. Nohra was crying and she said my brother is dead. We did not have details just that he had been involved in a traffic accident and it was under investigation. It was heart wrenching. It was surreal it was awful …there was nothing to do but plan our trip to Colombia…I had not even met the family ….that meant I had to go meet thte family during their time of grief. They were so welcoming to me….Nohras other brother said I lost a brother but I gain a brother…Yes he was intoxicated but he had just lost his brother. I have never had a brother …I would not know how that feels. Nohras mother welcomed me with open arms as well. They took me out of Bogota to the countryside. Colombia is nothing like you think it might be .The people are friendly and beautiful and I do mean beautiful. We had a Colombian BBQ that I will never forget . Nohra has about three other Aunts that were helping getting a fire going to cook the Carne Asada …They were grabbing cardboard and paper plates to fan the lack of flames we had to cook the meat ….We finally got it going…One thing I noticed about Colombian culture the kids are not out of the loop when entertaining….the grownups sit around in a group and the kids bring by hourderves …ours was red potatoes rolled in rock salt and cut in half and served with guacamole and ahi (A Colombian hot sauce) …Everything was soo delicious. I got the tour of Bogota and I got to see the city at Night and went to the Candelaria distict during the day. We also went downtown to the Gold Museum. We had to head back to Colrado for work and that Christmas in Colorado was very tough on  Nohra. She thought of her brother a lot…she cried quite a bit…But we made it thru those tough times because that is what you do with relationships….you never quit on them either….you might think you can justify it but really if you are committed to someone then you don’t quit. I rememenber we went to a wedding that summer…Our friends crlos and gaby pulled uds to the side and handed the bouquet of flowers to us…We know that you will be next and we did too…Not until the summer of hell was over…

 

Gayle was having her own problems with Lexy and decided that she should spend some time out here in Colorado with her Bio dad as Alexis referred to me as. So I told her to come out before I consulted Nohra. That was my first mistake. The next was to think I could leave a then 16 year old daughter at apartment during my four hour shift at the grocery store. Knowing that this girl was the female version of myself I knew that I was gonna have problems. She stayed for a couple of weeks and then went back to Florida. I would not see Alexis again until 10 years later.

I soon sold all my things at my apartment and moved in with Nohra full time. It did not make sense to have my place and always be at hers so she took me in. I had my 40th birthday and Nohra really surprised me….she got all my family member to hide in the basement and they came up one at a time to wish me a happy birthday…It was like This is Your Life with Guy Smiley from Sesame street….That night after everyone left I told Nohra I wanted one more thing for my birthday and that was her hand in marriage. She said yes.

 

In August of 2006 I went to Bogota, Colombia to get married. It was like going to the Emerald city and we really got the treatment. I got a manicure, peticure and a coif that you could barely tell I had gotten a haircut. I was married in a Catholic church in Bogota and after the wedding we were paraded around in a 1928 Model A Ford Convertible. It was surreal. People were waving and making comments about the gringo riding with my new wife thru the streets of North Bogota. At the wedding reception we danced to the sond by Anne Murray “Could I have this dance for the reat of my life” .  To this day that song makes me cry …something I have never been afraid to do in front of friends and family. After the wedding we went to Antigua for a week or so. I knew I was a lucky man then and I feel the same now. In May 2007 Sofia Marie came into our world and a year later Isabella Grace came early into our world….She spent 30 days in the ICU at St Josephs in Denver. I continued to sell cars until February 28th 2009 and that is when I quit…that’s right I finally realized that it was ok to quit trying to do something that I was only pretty good at.

I searched for three months to find suitable employment. I applied as a mail clerk with the VA Health Services In Cherry Creek and they turned me down after my horrendous interview. I then applied as a mail clerk for the Veterans Administration Regional Office right her ein Lakewood Colorado and that is when I met my new sinsei Jason Rasmussen. He was in Ranger Battallion in Georgia and was injured before his Ranger training began. During our interview we did not talk about anything to do with the job…we talked about relationships and selling cars….Luckilly Jason used to love just to go to the dealership to test drive cars and not buying them . We used to refer to those people that came to the dealership as strokes….because they would lead you on to belive they were interested in buying a new vehichle but they just wanted to get out of the house for the day and come to the dealership to ruin yours. Jason hired me as a mail clerk and I worked with a young Texan named Joel Rizo. I thought Joel was a cholo that was probly local until I learned his real story. Turns out that Joel was a combat Veteran that recently got back from Iraq. Joel and I worked in the mailroom together for a year. We understood each other pretty well. We both knew we would be moving on to greener pastures and we did. He was in college studying accounting and I was just looking for a way to move up. An old guy retired and I got a job in supply. I went from a GS-4 to GS-6 .

A year later I got a job as a Record Management Technician and this was an substantial increase in pay to a GS-9 Level. In this job I collect the documents that are in the shred bins at employees desk and I check and make sure no original documents are unintentionally discarded from the veterans claim file. All these jobs that I have had at the Veterans Administration have given me a sense of purpose. Yes anyone could be trained to do this job but I am proud that I am doing this job. I ensure that nothing important from a veterans claim file gets discarded. I also continue to help out in the mailroom opening mail, metering mail, sending out UPS boxes to Veterans. While selling cars I learned an expression from an old car guy that used to say to the boss…Just tell me where to stand.  There is a lot of power in these words. It lets the people you work with know that you are willing to do whatever job …no matter how tedious the task, no matter how much it might bore you, or no matter how repetitive it might be. The bottom line is that anything I do here at the Veterans administration gives me a sense of pride that I have not felt at any other job that I have done since I got discharged from the Navy in 1991.

I have done many jobs from a tree trimmer to a cashier…a painter to a salesman from an inventory specialist to a life guard and water safety instructor …and a teacher to a student. I am still a devout student and worker. I still look much deeper than the average Joe into things that others may find tedious or boring. I read poetry in Spanish although I don’t know all the words I like the way they sound….I still try to go to church with my wife and kids. I want my children to believe as I do that there is a higher power that will assist you in your time of need. I pay attention to the strange people that others might find odd. I like striking up conversations with people at a party that no one else is speaking to. I believe that each of us have so much to offer in this world and many of us do not realize that our true potential is never realized. We all have to strive to survive and we should all realize that we are all someone special… with so much to offer.

 

 

 

 

 

Louis Boisvert

On Behalf Of Erasmo Riojas via LinkedIn
Sent: Wednesday, October 02, 2013 2:17 PM
To: dillard blancett
Subject: RE: Louis boisvert 
http://www.sealtwo.org/photoalbum02.htm

 

Louis Boisvert and I were in the same boat crew through class # 35 in Tommy Nelson's boat crew, went to jump school together in Okinawa , were only six of us that went up there from Subic, was on the same jump where he got his arm hung up in his static cord. I've asked but hadn't found anyone that knows what happened to him. I saw where you had been training LDNN's with Loui.
Thanks dillard





hEY Dillard ! I worked with Loui in CamRanhBay, Vietnam we were LDNN advisors at the training camp. He is one of the greatest guys I have ever met from UDT west coast. Is he still around? How can I get ahold of him. I have one picture of him on www.sealtwo.org 

Send me some of you from the old days and now that you are retired. thanks a million 

BTW: I do not go into the LINKEDIN much, only to steal photos for my web site. 

Doc Rio Erasmo Riojas HMC ret ST-2 


From:Dillard Blancettt 
Date: 10/02/13 
dillard blancett 
to:  Doc Riojas 

doc Riojas,


Thanks for the quick response,
Louie was one of the best athelites ever, he was my swim buddy at san clemete Is. Also paddle man on rt. Side of front of boat., I was on left side, coming back to compound on last hell week paddle from mud flats we were all falling asleep, having illusions, falling out of the IBS, Louie didn’t have those problems , he got pissed at the rest of us-he just wanted to go home-He said in his French accent-you all don’t know how to paddle-watch me stroke , stroke, stroke – we all straigtened up and paddled like everything and laughed the rest of the way. 

On the obstical course, Louie didn’t muscle his self up to the next level of the tower with three levels, he could swing his self up- I asked how do you do that? Louis used to be in a circus, he could do all kinds of acrobatics. You probably saw some of it.---

Coming down Colorado river, we were caught very first day, they took all our sea rations- when we got down to Needles Louie went to town and started knocking on doors-the first one he knocked on was the  Sheriff’s wife- he told her we were starving, the instructors took all our food

She gave him money , food , beer, we thought we were doing good until we got captured by the enemy “Barry Enoch, Fredrickson etc-asked us silly questions “what are you doing on my river you Yankee Pig.

  Never forget the experience. You too—Love those guys—Funny: Gardner” a class mate, when asked what’s your name? He said god “GOD” All of us laying on those sharp rocks all night were miserable, but we sure laughed out loud about that—Poor old Gardner sure didn’t wish to go through that experience again. 

You can imagine the adjustment he experienced.

Dillard