I am by no means a bad-ass, or even an extremely skilled fighter, but several instances have presented themselves. I would rather get my ass beat than look like a pussy in front of my boys.
I have had other run-ins with fighters. I like to think I’ve held my own.
While I was serving with my very first platoon, the whole SEAL team went to Fort Irwin in San Bernardino out in the Mojave Desert. After our training sessions, we headed into town and found a bar there, called the Library.
Inside, a few off-duty police officers and firemen were having a party. A few of the women turned their attention to our guys. When that happened, the locals got all jealous and started a fight.
Which really showed some truly poor judgment, because there had to be close to a hundred of us in that little bar. A hundred SEALs is a force to be reckoned with, and we did the reckoning that day. Then we went outside and flipped over a couple of cars.
Somewhere around there, the cops came. They arrested twenty-five of us.
You’ve probably heard of captain’s mast—that’s where the commanding officer listens to what you’ve done and hands out what is called a nonjudicial punishment if he thinks it’s warranted. The punishments are prescribed by military law and can be anything from a stern “tsk, tsk, don’t do that again” to an actual reduction in grade and even “correctional custody,” which pretty much means what you think it means.
There are similar hearings with less critical consequences, heard by officers below the CO. In our case, we had to go before the XO (executive officer, the officer just below the commander) and listen while he told us in extremely eloquent language how truly fucked up we were. In the process, he read off all the legal charges, all the destruction—I forget how many people got hurt and how much money’s worth of damage we caused, but it took a while for him to catalog. He finished by telling us how ashamed he was.
“All right,” he said, lecture over. “Don’t let it happen again. Get the hell out of here.”
We all left, duly chastised, his words ringing in our ears for… a good five seconds or so.
But the story doesn’t end there.
Another unit heard of our little adventure, and they decided that they should visit the bar and see if history would repeat itself.
They won that fight, but from what I understand the conditions were a little more difficult. The outcome wasn’t quite so lopsided.
A little after that, yet another military group soon had to train in the same area. By now, there was a competition. The only problem was that the folks who lived there knew there would be a competition. And they prepared for it.
They got their collective asses kicked.
From then on, the entire town was placed off limits for SEALs.
You might think it’d be tough to get into a drunken brawl in Kuwait, since there really aren’t any bars where you can drink alcohol. But it just so happened that there was a restaurant where we liked to eat, and where, not so coincidentally, it was easy to sneak in alcohol.
We were there one night and started to get a little loud. Some of the locals objected; there was an argument, which led to a fight. Four of us, including myself, were detained.
The rest of my boys came over and asked the police to release us.
“No way,” said the police. “They’re going to jail and stand trial.”
They emphasized their position. My boys emphasized theirs.
If you’ve read this far, you’ve caught on that SEALs can be very persuasive. The Kuwaitis finally saw it their way and released us.
I was arrested in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, though I think in that case the circumstances may speak well of me. I was sitting in the bar when a waitress passed with a pitcher of beer. A guy at a table nearby pushed his chair back and bumped into her, not knowing she was there; a little bit of beer spilled on him.
He got up and slapped her.
I went over and defended her honor the only way I know how. That got me arrested. Those granolas are tough when it comes to fighting with women.
Those charges, like all the others, were dismissed.