Saturday, May 19, 2012

Tango Down?

My last serious deployment in the Navy was as an Arabic linguist in support of the SEAL platoon attached to the Eisenhower battle group.  I did a full 9 month deployment with them, 3 months of workups and 6 months in the Med and Persian Gulf.  Many of my stories are from this period.

One of the reasons a SEAL platoon is assigned to a battle group is for ship interdiction.  This means that the SEALs need to practice ship takedowns a lot.  Unfortunately, letting the SEALs really take over ships without cause is out of the question.  The next best thing was simulating a takedown of smaller Navy ships.

I had the pleasure of being one of the bad guys for a practice takedown.  We flew over to a frigate and I played bad guy while the SEALs fastroped onto the ship and proceeded to take it over.  My senior chief and I were the terrorists.

In the passageways of a military ship, there are regular bulkheads crossing the passageway, with neat ovals cut into them.  These holes have a significant lip.  I saw the SEALs come around a corner to take my senior chief.  I hid behind one of those bulkheads until they were fully engaged, only a few feet away from the action.  Once their attention was off the rest of the passage, I jumped out and yelled, "What do you think you are doing?," to the back of the largest SEAL in the platoon. Needless to say, he was not amused.

They used flex cuffs on me and took me out to the marines who were acting as the rear guard for the secured portion of the ship.  I was wearing a flight suit.  They patted me down, but they didn't do a very good job of it.  You see, a flight suit has a survival pocket on the inside of the right thigh that is the perfect size for a leatherman.  While I was under the supervision of the marines, I pulled out my leatherman and cut off my flex cuffs.  When the SEALs finally came to let me out, I handed them my flexcuffs.  Again, they were not amused.

As much as they hated me for what I did, I like to believe I helped prepare them for the action to come.  While I was deployed with the platoon, they took down 5 oil smugglers out of Iraq.  This was 1994-1995.  You might have heard about it.  It made the news.

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