Why SBU-26 was the Best
Itís no secret that it takes a greater amount of courage, commitment, and willingness to excel than the regular fleet sailor, when you volunteer for Combatant Craft duty. Iíd say only about 5 % of those that volunteered didnít have what it took in the old days. Hey, someoneís gotta man the armory and the paint locker.
So as far as inherent talent, SBU-26 was no better or worse than any other SBU. What we had though, was access to the best training areas, more opportunities to work with our sister services, and some hardcore jobsites to employ to.
Hey, letís be honest guys, everybody else came to train with us. Though I did go up to Little Creek to take possession of PB759 and drive her south, truthfully, I couldnít wait to get home.
Imagine getting up on a Monday morning and deciding, hey, letís go train on the Lake for the week. Pack your boats, food and ammo and head out to the training base camp on Empire Range on the west side of the Lake. No Greenpeace, EPA, Coast Guard crap to worry about. Just Dump those PBLís in at Gamboa and get to shootiní. Blow shit up too. Practice tactics, boat handling, hot extractions you name it, with real bullets almost anytime you want.
Being regular participants at Jungle Operations Training Center at Ft Sherman was an excellent way to train the Army guys on valuing boats as something besides taxis. Luckily, the invite was standing because of the Commander, LTCOL Testin, a Green Beanie. He was and exchange guy with SPECWARCOM for a couple of years in San Dog.
Counter Drug Ops in the Latin American AO was awesome stuff. Worked with a lot of good guys and some idiots from host nations but for the most part, great training. You just had to watch them. During the FTX portion, they would try like hell to get you to support some real world shit. That was a no-no. Had to hand it to the sneaky bastard, Iíd have done the same thing. Donít laugh, but, ask me about Shrimp Boat Pirates sometime.
Our resources were pretty good too. Letís just say, the Navy didnít own the PBLís we drove.
The main advantage probably, was that 26 was the only Coastal and Riverine unit. Gave great exposure to everyone there. Being a Plank owner, so to speak, Of PB841, I tried to maintain good relations with the Coastal guys. Iíd invite them out to training on the Lake. Maintenance and Supply guys to if they wanted. Funny how those Coastal guys wanted to get in Riverine Division until they had to spend the night sleeping in the rain on an open boat with no microwave, still I had to play nice so I could get that hot cup of Joe when we nested up in the locks during an HVT. It pays to have friends. Made a few with the guys from SBUís 11 and 22. Always nice to introduce newbies to the jungle.
The downside is that now, living in Western Washington, I have plenty of trees around, but when I go to east, over the Cascades, I get the willies, its high desert without trees and I know thereís no place to hide. I miss the rotting garbage stench and decay of the Jungle. Itís soÖÖ..ME!
Ciao for now, Boat Dudes! Remember the 3 Rules of Riverine Warfare. 1. Donít get off the Boat. 2. Always Park in the shade and 3. Donít forget your spoon!