"Get your log over the berm, get it wet and bring it back here. Standby... Bust 'Em!"
The instructors were giving us direction on the next exercise. We had been going for over an hour. I was exhausted. It was pretty chilly outside, and we had hit the surf many times, but I was burning up. My legs felt like they were filled with cement. My vision was blurry.
In such intensity, your focus cannot drift beyond the pain. It is near your thinking capacity to simply possess the simple instructions you are given and execute on them.
The 6 of us holding the log took off at the command, rushing as a team to take our logs the 100 or so yards through the soft sand to the ocean and back. We felt like we were sprinting but barely going at a jogging pace.
There is always an incentive to give it your best in BUD/s. It is rare, but sometimes there is a reward for being first to complete an exercise. Less rare is the punishment for finishing last. Never be last. That one gets beat into you throughout training.
It was the 2nd week of BUD/s. Our previous log, PT had claimed quite a few quitters, and this one would be no different. We had started with more than 160, and we were now down to about 120. It was an ever-changing number.
On my left and right were two other future SEALs. The others, fate unknown. One in particular, on the far left end of the log, I can't quite remember his name. I only remember the attention he had gained us.
One of the instructors had seen him slacking and made me switch places with him. Though everyone is trying to carry their share of the weight, the ends of the log always seem to be the heaviest. And you can't fake carry it on the end. The instructors can easily see if you are pulling your weight.
Let me clarify a little bit. You're probably questioning, why would someone fake carry their weight? Such a simple question. Let me try to give a simple answer. It hurt.
The week before on our log P/T we had done lunges with the log for over an hour. More than a dozen had quit.
Some men weed themselves out. Other weeds have to be pulled, so to speak. The instructors are looking at the students under a microscope. They are looking for that student who is not genuinely carrying his share of the weight.
In the most difficult of circumstances, only the force of a team can succeed. There is no room on such a team for a man not willing to give everything he has.
Back to the log... and our extra attention.
We are trying to get our log to the surf as fast as we can. We reach the top of the berm on our way to the surf, and we are middle of the pack. Its mid tide, so the water doesn't come all the way up to the sand berm. It's another 30 or so yards to the water line.
We try to pick up speed going down the berm, and the left side is dragging pretty hard. The man on the end is making all kinds of weak sounds as he struggles even to keep his hands on the log. Only gathering further attention. We went from having 1 instructor on our boat crew to 2. And the instructor on the megaphone was yelling at us as well, calling out the apparent weakness.
They were sharks, and there was blood in the water.
The other 5 men in the boat crew are yelling at him to pick it up. 5 men were stepping on the gas, and 1 man had both feet on the brake.
It was only a matter of time.
We got the log in the water. We are second from last boat crew now. We quickly move to the other side of the log to turn around and head back to the starting point.
"Nobody wants you here! Your own boat crew wants you to quit!" The instructor says.
"Just quit!!" One of the students on our log screams. At the brink of his maximum effort, You can hear the pain in the screaming student's voice saying, "we can't carry you."
We're almost back to the berm, we are neck and neck with last place now. As you get to the berm, you want to accelerate as much as you can. The faster you can get up that tiny mountain of soft sand, the better. Going slow over the berm is awful.
The instructors are screaming at our whole crew now, not just because we are lagging back, but they want us to run him out. One of the instructors says, "Maybe you didn't get the SEAL gene."
He was speaking to the man on the end. I don't know why I can't remember his name. I forgot to mention. He was a legacy student. His father had been a SEAL. The instructor comment was a subtle but deep jab at him not being like his father.
"SPRINT!!!" Brad yelled. Brad was the student officer leading our boat/log crew.
We sped up. Right as we hit the sharp incline of the berm, it was like the left side of the log ran into a wall. The log swung hard from the right side, almost reaching the top of the berm and the left side nearly at the bottom of the berm.
The man on the end had completely stopped but still clenching the log. We were basically dragging him. He fell to his knees. Everyone is screaming. We were churning the sand pushing that log, and it was slowly moving. He wasn't moving. I looked over to the left right as I saw his grip fall from the log.
We popped right up to the top of the berm, only 5 sets of hands on the log, firmly in last place.
The instructors lunged for the kill, yelling at him to get up, to move. As we were about halfway back to the starting point, I heard the instructors begin to hoop and holler in excitement. We hadn't heard it seen it, but we all knew he had said those dreaded words. "I quit."
Weak men are a burden on all around them. We were lucky that the only penalty on us that day for his weakness was last place. We could have been like other boat crews where a good man was injured because of a weak man.
Nobody felt like a winner in Log pt. There are no individual winners in teams.
Don't focus on keeping a grip on the log.
Focus on driving the log up the hill.
Don't be weak. Don't be a burden.
Be a worthy teammate.