Monday, August 2, 2010

A Conversation with a World War II U.S. Navy Frogman

I believe it was back in September of 1999, when I was walking north on U.S. 95 somewhere near Beatty, Nevada when this older guy picked me up. He looked like he was in his 70s. He was coming from Mexico and going back to Northern California where he made his home. He told me that he was a Navy Frogman in World War II.

As a Navy Frogman, he would go onto an enemy beach at night and prepare it for a Marine amphibious assault. They would cut barbed wire, take out mines, get rid of enemy infrastructure and so on. One time he and his fellow Frogmen were trying to defuse a mine in the ocean and the mine exploded. I guess several Frogmen were killed; he and another guy survived.

He said that after the war, he did a job as a mercenary somewhere in Central America. He got caught by the local government or warlord and was thrown in prison. He heard a man screaming because he was probably being tortured--and, he thought, being killed.

I don't remember how long he spent in that prison, but he told me that he thought he was a goner. Then one evening something profound happened. He had an intense spiritual experience: he saw a vision of Jesus and this overwhelming sense of peace came over him. A few days later, he was released from prison and he did no more mercenary work after that.

He spent twenty or thirty years in the merchant marine as a cook. He had been retired for some time. His intestines were shot, so that is why he wore a bag on his side. He was married and divorced from an exotic dancer. His son was thrown in prison for robbing convenience stores. He seemed pretty wore out from living on the planet.

He told me something interesting. He said that whenever you go to a bar at a naval base where Marines and Navy personnel hang out, if you see a guy sitting at the bar drinking by himself, it is usually a Navy SEAL. So I asked him why. He said that you go through hell to become a Navy SEAL and so it separates you from the rest of the crowd. Also, he said that SEALs go on top-secret missions that nobody can know about, so they can't talk to anyone about their work. So who can they talk with?

It is lonely at the top.

I was hitchhiking in Iowa back in 1986 and I was talking with this guy about the Marines (I enjoy reading military history). Then he told me about the SEALs that they are the best-trained warriors in the world. He told about these four Marines that were sitting at a table in a bar and they were drunk and obnoxious and trying to pick a fight with somebody. Then this guy walked in and sat down at the bar and drank a beer quietly by himself. The Marines began making fun of him--they were trying to provoke something. The bartender walked over to the table of Marines and told them that the guy at the bar was a SEAL. The Marines quickly left the bar and never looked back.

"At the rebuke of His presence they fled." "A quiet word breaketh a bone." "The idols of Egypt are removed at his presence."

I guess you can say that that Navy SEAL's reputation preceded him.

[Originally published by]

Freedom to Bear Arms
Carrying the Gun

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