I enlisted in the Naval Reserve on 3
September 1984, for the specific purpose of being in the
reserve and still going to college. Upon graduation from
boot camp (Co 313, 1984 Great Lakes), I decided to return to
my college, Wesley College in Dover, Del. to pursue my
Business Administration degree.
I was first assigned to U.S.S.
Portland Det 9-- , then within six months or so it became
SIMA NORVA DET 1904, four years passed as I was doing drills
and ADT. I realized I was going nowhere, and was just really
showing up to party. Then the facility had a new XO, (who
later became CO for a time), LT Asbury, I never had the
opportunity to tell him, but I am very much
in his debt. I asked him one day what is that pin on his
chest, he said " That is a Patrol Officer Pin, I got it for
being a OIC of a PBR Det at SBU 11. Well I have always been
into PT Boats and Riverine, so I said, "That's the shit...ahh,
stuff, I want to be in sir, how do I join? He told me and I
made a few calls to NRF Little Creek, The I spoke with YN1
Goble and the next month I was in.
I first crossed the
Quarterdeck of NR SBU-24 on November 11, 1989, and I was
immediately greeted by the CMC of SBU 24, BMCM(SEAL) Charles
W. Steffey Jr. He was a real hard type as I was greeted with
a basic "who are you"? I never new it then but this man was
to play a major part in my career. My first Co was LCDR
(SEAL) Marc Thomas and our XO was LCDR (SEAL) Al Becker.
Things seemed to happen just for admin purposes back then
and I was almost immediately placed in SEAFOX DET BRAVO, as
9533 crewman under instruction. My Boat captain was ET1
Brown, (SWCL 811) the other boat captain was BM2 Mark Bayle
The next month, Dec 1989, I
showed up for Friday night drill and was told I was on 24
hour stand-by! We were told we were on stand-by and if the
call was received, we would hook-up our boats to our prime
movers, and tow them to the NAS Norfolk airfield, we would
then board a C-130's with a platoon from SEAL TEAM FOUR, for
deployment to Panama, in support of Special Boat Unit 26 and
Naval Special Warfare Unit Eight.
The invasion of Panama was
imminent and it was only a matter of time before we had
Generalissimo Manuel "The Pineapple" Noriega in our hands or
dead. Our Brothers at SBU 26 and Unit Eight had been going
around the clock for months. I feel our biggest asset at
this time on
the Special Boat front was Capt. Eric Olsen as Commodore of
Special Boat Squadron-Two. He did things nobody else did, he
even moved his headquarters from NAB Little Creek to Rodman
Naval Station in Panama, just to be closer to the situation.
This is why he later became a legend in Specwar. To me he
was an operators operator, and a boat guys boat guy.
Well, we were given the
"other" call, we were not needed, so we did not go. I stayed
with Seafoxes for a little while longer, then SBU-24 started
to phase out the SEAFOX. I was "transferred" to MKIII PB 735
as helmsmen. we trained on weapons alot at "Whiskey-50", and
alot of underway Navigation training. We also spent alot of
time at Fort A.P. Hill training on small arms.
In September 1990, we headed
south with 4 boats to Key West (PB 731, 735, 758, 759) and
went through a hell of a tropical storm, we were in it for
at least 27 hours, the boat went air bound about eight times
during the night, we went almost completely vertical up the
face of the waves and straight down the back, all in the
crew was in a coma state, except myself, BM1(CC) Mark Bayle
(now a Master chief at SBT-20), GM1 (CC) Buddy Harrison, and
Mike Wilson. When we tied up at the pier, in front of U.S.S.
Forrestal, we were met at the pier by the NS Mayport CO, who
told us" What the hell are you guys doing out in that stuff?
I didn't even let the U.S.S. Saratoga get underway in this!"
Well We were in "it" for 27 hours!
Upon post op inspection, we
discovered we busted 13 stringers out of the bow of "Good
Old "735". During this period I became a "Steffey Ranger"
(Reserve) this was the follow on group to the "Steffey
Ninja's" which were the active duty side, of Steffey's Men".
CMC/BMCM Steffey (since he was from SEAL TEAM SIX), decided
he would "further" the specwar knowledge of a number of us.
We did repelling training, VBSS training, combat shooter
courses, swimmer cast
and recoveries, but the most interesting training exercise
was held on one reserve weekend.
We were just doing PMS on the
boats, as we had our own by then, and BMCM Steffey and our
the XO LT Bob Donegan, decided they wanted to inject some
excitement into the weekend. Well, BMCM told us to get ready
for a swimmer cast with Helo extraction, we were all like
"COOL"! Then as we are jocking up here comes XO Donegan in
our PT bus with about 60 people, he apparently scooped out
of the base exchange under the guise of "want to see some
operators do their stuff"! So down the pier this gaggle
came, and him as the happy tour guide in tank top and
Well, things were going fine
and the first stick was in the helo, and put out over by the
helo pad by Group Two, then the helo came back and we had
left the Seafox (I think it was our last Seafox left), and
we were in the water waiting for pick up, well the first guy
was our Reserve CMC at SBU 24, BMCM John Fatjo, (and he
tended to live up to his name) as he was a quarter of the
way up, something happened, and the Helo did an emergency
veer off and headed to the pad. Well we later found out that
the winch cable started to part as he was on the way up. You
can imagine all the jokes that kept on for months after
that. In May 1991, we headed south again with 4 boats (PB
731, 735, 759, 777). We stopped to refuel AT Moorhead City,
NC, NS Mayport FL, Key West, FL, West Palm Beach FL,
Freeport, Bahamas, Crooked Island,Turks and Cacois, Porto
Plata, Dominican Republic, Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico.
This was our ORE period, as
in August-October 1991, the whole unit headed to Panama in a
type of staggered rotation. I flew down by civair and met
the boats at Rodman. We were run through the SBU/FT Sherman
Jungle course, and did some underways, I remember an HVT or