What if?

What if you could eliminate COVID-19, the Chinese Plague by sacrificing one person? Who would it be and why do you choose Nancy Pelosi?


Memory Lane

Let’s take a ride back to 2011 during the halcyon years of Obamanation, when Barack ran the place and his love affair with Russia was in full Swing and Hillary was hitting the reset button.

Isn’t it amazing how the mainstream media forgets so much so quickly?


Our friend and fellow blogger, WSF, as a child.


The Soul of American Deliciousness


The Combat Rubber Raiding Craft

And just like that, I’m resurrecting another story from the way-back machine. This short is non-fiction and was first published in May 2014.

Don B. was my best friend. He lost his life in the war against radical Sunnis/the war on terror. He didn’t die alone. I was there and I held his hand as he passed from this life.

I’ve had best friends come and go, many of them died. Being my best friend was never the best of career moves.

The Dip Tank

The dip tank is used to test outboard motors used on the combat rubber raiding craft. The tank is almost always filthy with ocean murk, two-stroke engine oil, gasoline and bits of flotsam and jetsam.

The raiding craft were nothing more than sturdy black zodiac inflatable boats but they formed an integral part of the Naval Special Warfare program’s mission flexibility. When they were dumped out of the back of a C-130 Hercules flying low over the ocean, followed by five SEALs, they were referred to as limp ducks.

Uninflated, packaged with an outboard motor, they fall from the sky to the foaming waves below under inflated canopies. After a hearty splash, they slip beneath the waves, inflated and popped back to the surface.

The SEAL’s follow them down, floating, in a controlled descent, braked by parachutes: water landing protocol. They detach themselves from the chutes before they hit the water so that the silk woon’t drag them down to Davy Jones. Everyone swims to the combat rubber raiding craft, boards it carefully, in a practiced maneuver, and whoever is appointed coxswain cranks the outboard motor and off they go.

Salt water is hard on equipment. The dip tank is used to test the motors after each operation and training evolution. It’s important that they work. Sitting mid-ocean in a limp duck is not fun. Paddling to shore, wherever shore may be, is not fun either. It puts everyone in a bad mood.

Dip tanks have other uses, more traditional and esoteric uses. They’re baptisteries of a different nature.

The SEAL Team Five facility – not the shining new one that you’ll see today, the sprawling old one, the green-painted wood slab, one-story, flat-roofed, dinosaur of a building that was constructed toward the end of the Second World War, had a rusty old dip tank outside the outboard motor shop. It was located seaside, to the west of the main building, wedged between CONEX boxes and the motor shop. There was always at least four inches of fuel and oil floating in a rainbow slick on the top. Maybe emptying it constituted an environmental hazard so it was never purged or cleaned properly. On the other hand, keeping it foul might have served its other purpose well.

There is no saluting on a SEAL facility, but if you wave, they’ll wave back. Formations are equally lax and lacking in all pretense of spit and polish. That sort of thing is not necessary to good military order. Rate and rank are observed though, and promotions are celebrated.

No matter how high you climb in the Navy’s bureaucratic structure, if you’re promoted or if you mention your recent promotion on the facility, strong hands take you. You’re expected to fight. Nobody who goes to the dip tank willingly garners any respect, but they all treasure the drop into the oily filthy water as a rite of passage.

Men may curse their bad fortune. The uniform was clean. They just showered. Other excuses are muttered beneath their breath, but beneath all that, there is a deep satisfaction that comes with belonging to an exclusive club with others who share your commitment and skill at life taking and heart breaking.

It was winter and while Coronado is never so cold that you’d freeze but the wind whipping rain from the ocean can make it brisk. The dark clouds threaten, sheets of rain follow, and the facility always flooded. I’m sure that the new SEAL Team Five compound isn’t prone to flooding, but the old one always did.

Don B. showed up late that day in January when the San Diego Coast was lashed with rain. He checked in at the quarterdeck and being Don B., he flashed his CIA credentials in their blue case for the Officer Of the Day to see. There was no escort required and he knew the way, but Don B. wanted an escort. I suspect he wanted a witness.

I sat behind the battered World War Two vintage wood desk with a chart spread across it when he waltzed in with the OOD trailing behind him. Rain blew in with the two men because my office was in the quadrangle that opened to the weather. I tried to shield my chart; paper flew, driven by the wind.

“You’re here.” I said dryly. Don B. was my best friend and I hadn’t seen him for about a month.

“As per our arrangement, I was promoted and I’m here to take you to lunch.”

A sly glance crossed the face of the OOD, who excused himself politely.

I knew what was coming. The SEAL’s like nothing better than dropping some civilian spook like Don B. into the dip tank. Nobody was immune, certainly not Don. Though he never admitted it, I’m certain that Don was hoping to be dropped unceremoniously into the dip tank as so many other warriors had before.

“Rainwater’s sounds like an appropriate lunch for the weather.” I picked the most expensive place I could think of. (*Rainwaters, located across the street from the train station closed during the depression of 2007, never to reopen.)

“Sounds good.” Don B. was a man of few words.

I threw the chart into a locking file cabinet, spun the lock and put one of those magnetic signs on it that read “secured”.

A step into the quad met two-dozen smiling faces and drenched uniforms. Don B. acted the soul of surprise and protested wildly as strong men grabbed him by his hands and legs. Before they had him completely he slipped me his credential case and I palmed it.

He dropped beneath the surface of the dip tank and emerged to howls of laughter. Hands grabbed him, patted his back and honored his promotion to the Senior Intelligence Service, Grade One.

I directed him to the shower, and told him that I had a uniform he could slide into. We wore the same size clothes and shoes. I didn’t plan to let him slither past the obligation to buy lunch.

“Where’s your wallet,” I asked. “We need to dry off those credit cards.”

His reply, soto voce, “I left it in the car along with the keys.”


    • Friendship and shared experience ended. But we who believe know that we’ll meet later on.


      So I’ll meet him later on,
      To the place where he has gone,
      Where it’s always double drill and no canteen.

      He’ll be squatting on the coals,
      giving drinks to poor damned souls,
      And I’ll get a swig in Hell from Gunga Din.

  1. “ What if you could eliminate COVID-19, the Chinese Plague by sacrificing one person? Who would it be and why do you choose Nancy Pelosi?”

    Golf commentator David Feherty got in trouble for a joke: “A US soldier steps into an elevator to find he’s onboard with Pelosi, Bin Laden and Saddam. Heonlu has two bullets. Who gets shot? Pelosi, twice”.

  2. Oh how I miss the REAL A&W root beer. I remember walking from my granny’s house in the summer to the drive in. I’d sit on a stool at the outdoor “bar” and order a root beer. Draft on tap then, in a cold mug with foam. What a great taste it had then. Not like the fake stuff now they claim is the same.

    Loved the short story.

    • My experience with A&W Root Beer mirrors yours, LindaG. My brother and I used to walk down from our home in San Pedro, CA (port of Los Angeles) to the A&W on the main drag and had a cold frosty mug. We’d save our money. It was a serious treat mid-summer. Adding vanilla ice cream is just that much better.

  3. Navy Seals- The breadth and depth of your experiences…incredible. h/t.

    A frosted A&W Root Beer direct from the drive up could only be rivaled by my recollection of the corner deli/grocer, while waiting for my hoagie to be made, and grabbing a Hires tall neck from the cooler that had ice floating in it…froze your hand. Perfect on a hot Summer day. Imagine kids today recollecting how they had to wear masks and stay home because of a boogieman foisted upon them by the adults, wouldn’t trade my memories for all the tea in China – pun intended.

    • Camperfixer, I recall Bud’s Meat Hut. He had a large plastic cow on the roof, and while it was a butcher shop, I’d go there for a hoagie. The slogan was “You can’t beat Bud’s meat”. There was always a long line for Bud’s sandwiches – and an ice cold Coke or Root Beer. Then Bud died, his kids sold the place, the new owner, from India, had everything tasting like curry, and he was out of business in three or four months.

      The legacy we are leaving for children and grandchildren…disturbs me at just about every possible level.

      • You and me both.

        Today if a urban kid drinks from a garden hose it’s straight to the emergency room in full panic. We did it all the time, never thought otherwise. Then again we were always doing something full tilt outside. No problem falling to sleep at night for sure.

        The pendulum swings…hopefully it swings back soon. Never seen anything like this in my nearly 60 years.

        • Is there something wrong about drinking from a garden hose? I do it all the time. Am I going to shuffle off this mortal coil because of that rather than from a bullet fired from the darkness or a rusty knife in an alley? Inquiring minds want to know.

          • I mean, it’s a rubber hose…how bad can a little petroleum atom infused water be for a person? Might even be good for the constitution. My dad would say “Kids these days aren’t getting enough dirt.”

            I figure when the Good Lord finds it’s time to call me home that it won’t be due to a garden hose…unless I accidentally hang myself with one.

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