It’s the 4th week of training and “Hell Week” began. There were no entries in Blue’s journal between Sunday November 2nd and Saturday November 8th 1975. Of the six blacks that started training only two were left including Blue. The others were either dropped or rang out. Most SEAL recruit classes lose the majority of their class during hell week. The recruits were extremely nervous about what to expect. They were used to getting a weekly schedule of evolutions so they could prepare both physically and mentally for what was expected.


There was no schedule for hell week; all the recruits knew was to be in the barracks by 9:00 PM Sunday evening. The instructor smirked and advised the recruits to get some sleep because they would need it. The SEAL Instructor turned off the lights as he exited and the barracks was immersed in darkness. Blue was unable to sleep so he tossed and turned in his bunk trying to imagine what lay in store for him. The quiet in the barracks was eerie as the recruits awaited their fate. This was the calm before the storm and Blue finally dozed off.


At the stroke of Midnight all hell broke loose. The instructors barged into the barracks firing machine guns and lighting explosives. The noise was deafening and the bright lights from the explosions was disorienting. An instructor barked orders for the recruits to get dressed and assemble outside in an impossible 30 seconds. A few moments later the group mustered in the chilly California darkness. The SEAL Instructor was staring at his watch. He raised his head and his deep voice resonated” Its hell week people and you are late for my formation. All of you go get wet”. The group sprinted the 1/4 mile to the ocean and dove into the frigid water. They returned to the instructor soaked and cold. Each team was told to grab their IBS. The six to seven man teams were advised to keep the IBS on their head for the remainder of the week. When not in an active evolution the rubber boat was to be carried on the recruit’s heads. Due to constant attrition from guys ringing out or being injured the recruit teams were always being adjusted. The individual squads of men did not like when one of their team rang out or was dropped from BUDS. That meant more work for those left trying to pick up the slack.


An instructor yelled” report to the pool for relay races” and the back-to-back evolutions of hell week had begun. Competition between the squads was a constant during BUDS. This competitive environment was intensified during hell week. As the recruit teams entered the pool and raced each other a SEAL Instructor paced back and forth saying, “ It pays to be a winner people, it pays to be a winner”. The recruit teams that came in last were punished while the winning teams were allowed a few moments of precious rest.


 Blue and his team were huddled together trying to stay warm while they awaited their next race. The men were clinging to each other using what body heat they had to keep the next man warm. An instructor commented that they were using good judgment and teamwork by sticking close to each other. It was pointed out that the use of body heat might save a life one day in combat. The instructor said, “Welcome to hell week”, before turning a water hose on Blue’s group and soaking them to the bone.


Blue described the week as unbearable. The recruits were constantly on the move and they were ringing out on a daily basis. The instructors would only allow 5 or 10 minutes of rest a couple times a day. Many times you did not get the chance to rest because of being punished.


In order to simulate the stresses of combat sleep deprivation was the over all theme of hell week. Blue recalls frequent hallucinations. The trainees spent hours on end paddling through the ocean in the IBS. Blue remembers hallucinating that sea monsters were climbing out of the cold dark ocean. The recruits had grown to depend on each other for motivation. If one man fell, the others would grab him and drag him through until the evolution was completed. The instructors would constantly declare that each team was only as strong as its weakest link. The instructors also reminded the recruits that they were not going to kill them. They said other classes had been through hell week and survived and destiny would allow some members of class #86 to make it also. Hell week ultimately determines who has the physical and mental ability to endure the remainder of BUDS. The purpose of hell week was to show the trainees that they were capable of amazing feats of endurance. It was a true test of mind over matter as the recruits had to learn to ignore the pain, sand, mud and constant discomfort of being cold and wet. Hell week is 90% mental and 10% physical, as you must ignore your battered body as it screams out for you to quit.


While the recruits were not allowed rest they did eat four meals a day. Food was the only comfort during hell week. Each recruit consumed approximately 5000 to 7000 calories a day and still lost weight. Daily medical inspections were conducted, as the worn down men were susceptible to illness and infection. The constant log PT and the swim a mile, run a mile evolutions were taking their toll. By Friday there were only 30 recruits left. Over half of class #86 had been dropped or rang out.


Blue went to the famous mud flats where SEAL recruits trained. The mud flats were referred to as Camp Swampy. The expanse of mud was unforgiving and the instructors made sure the recruits got plenty of slimy bottom samples. Blue was chest deep in mud and freezing. This was by far the coldest that he had ever been and he was shivering uncontrollably. An instructor paced back and forth in front of the men. He was drinking a piping hot cup of coffee. The instructor said calmly “would any of you like some coffee”? There was a pregnant pause before he continued and said “ people you can have all the coffee you want if you just ring the bell and quit”.

Judgement Day

Edited: 16.09.2020

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