Basic Underwater Demolition School
NAVSPECWARCEN Coronado, California
Side-by-side, their arms linked, the snake-like row of men in green fatigues stood waist-deep in the murky water under the clear, midday sky. There was no emotion on any of the 24 faces - their chafed and battered bodies hurt too badly for that.
After four hours' sleep in five days, all the concentration they could muster was riveted on the man standing on the sea wall above them. Despite the fatigue, despite the pain, they stood poised to perform at his command.
The only sound was the lapping of wavelets against the wall. Suddenly, the man shouted: "Sing 'Gilligan's Island'!"
In perfect unison, but slightly flat, the men sang: "Now sit right down and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip...." They droned on to a close: ". . . heeeere on Gilligan's liiiiisle."
Then silence fell again. Finally, the man spoke again: "BUDS Class 147, secure from Hell Week!"
The men were stunned. They had done it. Slowly the grim-faced trainees let the emotion well up from their water-logged feet to their hollow eyes. Some cheered, some laughed, some cried. Those who couldn't climb out of the water were lifted out by jubilant classmates.
Hell Week is the highlight of Phase One, the physical conditioning phase of Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training. During the five-day whirlwind of nonstop action, the students are pushed beyond what they thought their limits were.
"During the first three weeks, we're conditioning them for Hell Week. That's the toughest week at BUDS," said one instructor, Lt. Steve Simet of Pierre, S.D. "We test their mental skills and physical conditioning, and we observe the student to see how much he can take."
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