Ted Walthers History

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Ted Walthers - Special Boats History


 

 

(05-05-07)   Ted Walthers   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 (SWCL 8211).

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 HTC (CC) 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 shorts.

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 two.