The Water Fountain Incident
Everything in SEAL Team BITES. From the minute you walk through the door
everything around you is dangerous. The parachutes, dive gear, weapons and
demolitions all have a nasty nip if you aren\'t being careful. And the end
result of doping off for even a brief second can be \"Catastrophic.\"
Outside of killing yourself, or worse yet, a buddy is the potential trouble,
(punishment kind of trouble) you can find yourself in using that equipment. And
I always said SEAL Team is the \"Most Forgiving\" unit in the Military because
we\'ve all had run-ins and made mistakes using our equipment.
All our Admirals and Master Chiefs have been \"Spanked\" a few times for doing
something that seemed like a good idea at the time... Do something right and you
learn nothing, do something wrong and you are educated by VOLUMES in SEAL
Team... We learn from mistakes...
Hopefully the trouble you find yourself in is contained to SEAL Team and never
leaves the Command. But the biggest trouble I\'ve found myself in normally
involves the US Army or the US Marine Corps and I\'ve found myself in BIG
trouble with both... Neither the Army or Marine Corps are known for their sense
of humor and they have NONE when it comes to Navy SEALs.
Take the \"Water Fountain Incident\" for example...
I was running demolition training for a couple SEAL Platoons at an Army base a
few hours away from Little Creek. I took a couple New Guy SEALs up a week before
the Platoons arrived to \"Set Up.\"
Much of \"Set Up\" in demolition training involves getting enough material for
the Platoon to Blow Up.
You just can\'t train in a bare field. You need metal, any kind of metal, and
lot\'s of it as each charge placed destroys that particular target and normally
there is little, if anything, left for another charge.
My normal \"Load Out\" of demolitions for a single Platoon for one week of
training was over a ton of various types of demolitions and we worked long
hours, day and night for that week...
A ton of demolitions is a LOT...
To find my materials I\'d head to the base dump. Not a trash dump, it was a
place where EVERYTHING else was piled and stacked and free for the taking for
training. From vehicles and old generators to file cabinets and bunk beds, it
was all there.
The biggest problem was hauling and carrying the stuff...
Most demolition ranges are vast areas and littered with sharp metal from
previous demolition training that spans DECADES. There is always a good clean up
but you\'ll never get everything picked up. One sure way to get a few flat tires
is to drive off the roads on a demo range.
Bottom line... Most stuff you blow up needs to be light enough to carry by hand
and placed as targets...
Most Operations in SEAL Team have us carrying some sort of demolitions.
Breaching Charges, Claymore Mines or the typical \"Standard Charge.\"
A Standard Charge was 1.5 pound block of C-4 Explosive. The block was cut in
half and taped together with a \"pig tail\" of detonating cord rigged in a
variety of ways in it. And much of my training was the classic \"Demolition
Raid\" using Standard Charges.
The Demolition Raid involved assaulting a Target (shooting the place up) and
sending pre planned teams to place charges on critical points. Generators, fuel
supply, ammunition, radios, computers, anything that needed destroyed. One pair
carried a large roll of detonating cord and they\'d run through the target
unspooling det-cord for all the pairs who\'d then tie their Standard Charge on
to the det-cord using the Pig Tail. Blasting caps were placed at the end of the
det-cord and a 5-minute fuse was pulled.
When the caps detonated the entire field and all charges went together... It was
Anyhoo... Picking up at the dump my eye caught about 20 Water Fountains pushed
together. The classic ones you had in school to get a drink of water; about four
feet tall and light as a feather which surprised me.
They were perfect from their size and weight. I took everyone of them and loaded
On the range they were easy to carry and place and I configured them into a
target for an easy daylight assault to work the Platoon bugs out before a
larger, tougher night assault with all the bells and whistles...
The Platoon looked over the target, built charges and did a very simple brief on
who was doing what and then they began their assault.
Taking mental notes so I could debrief them afterwards they placed all their
charges well, pulled fuses and began to patrol back out. At 4:30 seconds
everyone stopped and turned looking back at the Target and then came 5-4-3-2-1
It was a great shot but in seconds I began (everybody began) wondering \"What
the Hell is that???\"
\"What the Hell is that,\" turned out to be why the Water Fountains were so
light in the first place... I don\'t manufacture Water Fountains, how the HELL
would I know they are each packed tight with MILLIONS of tiny white styrofoam
balls to keep the water cool.
20 of them produced enough snow to ski on and they were unsightly on the large
open green range... You could NOT miss them and there was no way to hide or
clean them up...
At the conclusion of training the range had to be inspected by the Army before
we could leave to ensure \"most\" scrap was cleaned up and they could get anal
about it sometimes.
A young sergeant shows up to inspect and clear us off the range. I made a point
to have all the vehicles we had parked where he could see them filled with trash
and scrap so he\'d know we made a big effort.
He never saw the vehicles...
Instead, he stared for a moment at what looked like Mt. Kilimanjaro a hundred
meters from us. Turning his head toward me I grinned like an idiot, shrugged my
shoulder and said \"Water Fountains.\"
\"You\'ll need to see the Range Officer,\" he said and he got in his truck and
The Range Officer was a portly retired Army guy who didn\'t like me much. He
didn\'t like anybody much but he really didn\'t like Navy guys and my frequent
visits to explain myself and my actions worsened his ulcer I\'m sure...
Special Forces dealing with Conventional troops never worked very well as
everything we do is everything they don\'t do and every rule they have is a rule
we don\'t have.
By the time I walked though the door of the Range Office everyone had heard the
Water Fountain story and watched me as I walked to the Range Officers door.
Behind his desk his face was red, his glasses hung low on his nose and his hands
were closed tightly together as he looked up at me. What he said surprised me
but was just the difference between SEALs and Conventional troops. He\'d spent
his life in the Army and I\'m sure had no idea what a \"Demolition Raid\" was or
how to practice for one. Just no idea.
What he said, in a LOUD gruff voice was \"SHIPLEY... WHY THE F&*K DO NAVY SEALS
NEED TO KNOW HOW TO BLOW UP WATER FOUNTAINS???\"