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To all the Frogmen and SEALs out there, I thank you. Without your humor, this book would not have been possible, and let me also say, "Thank you all for your unwavering dedication and service to our country." ~ Billy Allmon

 

 

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When the Bullet Hits Your Funny Bone

The Essence of a U.S. Navy SEAL

 

Billy Allmon

 

 

Preface

Like anyone who is or was in the military, you are always asked what you did in the service. Ask any SEAL (SEAL is an acronym which stands for -- Sea, Air, Land - the three elements in which U.S. Navy SEALs are trained to perform their missions) and he will tell you that he was/is a sailor, a medical corpsman, or even a Marine. Most SEALs try to dodge the "I was/am a SEAL" response. Why do most SEALs NOT go around saying, "I am/was a SEAL?" Call it being secretive, carrying a strange sense of guilt, or just being humble (for the most part, it is the latter). Besides, when you think about all the classified missions that SEALs are required to do and have done, why in Gods name would any U.S. Navy SEAL go around telling everyone "I was/am a SEAL, and this is what we did!" However, there is no dodging the question when certain people, who know your background, introduce you, "I want you to meet my friend, he is/was a U.S. Navy SEAL."

I decided to write this book after I had attended a formal party, where I was asked to share a story about an experience that I had in the SEALs. So, I chose a story that I thought would be funny. To my surprise, all the people who were listening to my story thought that my "funny story" was horrifying, and I was the only one laughing about the story.

I was later informed by my gracious host that some people who knew nothing of the SEALs and their sense of humor would never enjoy such "funny stories." I thought to myself, now that was an odd statement to make. It might be true that only SEALs, Special Operations personnel, Police Officers, Firefighters, and emergency personnel will/would understand a SEAL's sense of humor and the feelings of brotherhood toward each other. However, after the urges of my wife, daughter and a few of my friends (as they felt strongly that this "type" of book needed to be written), I thought that I would try to give the average person out there a better understanding of why SEALs use their warped sense of humor on anyone, especially other SEALs, and to try and describe our sense of brotherhood toward each other.

Simply put (and there is nothing simple in the career of a U.S. Navy SEAL), it is because of all the tragedies that SEALs see or experience in their operational careers that a Navy SEAL would much rather seek out ways to laugh and enjoy life, than to sulk or cry. Even so, in reality, there is so much more to it than this "simple" explanation.

I do not personally feel that it is paramount for everyone out there to understand that the men who serve in the U.S. Navy SEAL teams have a unique sense of humor and a deep sense of loyalty to our country, and to other brother SEALs. However, I do feel and for the purposes of this book, and for all the people who are on the "outside" trying to look in, the general public might just think, from all the NEWS reports and from overheard conversations, U.S. Navy SEALs are nothing more than a group of well trained professional killers, and the general public would never know that Navy SEALs have a unique" sense of humor, and they use their unique sense of humor as a defense mechanism to escape all the harsh realities of their chosen profession.

I also feel the general public, who know nothing of the Navy SEALs, may not understand that what SEALs find humorous and the pranks that they play on people to include themselves, when viewed afterward, borders on insanity. Additionally, the general public might be curious as to why SEALs use their humor to make certain tragic events, funny. If one is to try to understand a Navy SEAL's sense of humor, and their sense of brotherhood, then one must try to understand all their shared tragic, horrific sights and actions, which Navy SEALs are exposed to throughout their professional lives, and carry with them for the rest of their lives.

You must also try (if you can) to understand what every U.S. Navy SEAL knows, and that is Whenever a Navy SEAL goes out on a training mission or into actual combat, there is always the strong possibly for a Navy SEAL to break a bone, lose some bodily appendage, be wounded or get killed. It is because of those reasons that many of the SEALs I know/knew, take/took a lighter approach to the seriousness of their job, and to life in general. Because, after experiencing being shot at by a bunch of bad guys hell bent on trying to kill you, what could be SO bad in your life after that?

Many of the events that I have disclosed within this book took place several years ago, and during those times the Navy SEAL teams were a bit different than they are today, and in general, so were the people within the Navy. Many years ago, we were given lots of autonomy; in large part this was due to the high-risk and secretive nature of our missions. Because every time SEALs went on a combat mission, it was highly probable that a few of them would not be coming back. So we lived life to the fullest, in the event that we were severely wounded, or we did not come back from one of our missions. As anyone who serves on the front lines as a warrior knows, life can be brief.

I make no apologies for the past actions of myself, or for those who perpetrated the somewhat comical events that you are about to read within this book. For everyone's protection (except my own), I have changed all of the names of the perpetrators and victims in this book, to include many of the locations where the events had taken place. The stories that I have written about are true, and I mean NO disrespect to anyone in the SEAL community. In fact, many of the SEALs that were involved in these stories wanted me to use their names, but I felt it better not to, as I know my SEAL brothers very well, and payback for some of the jokes would never end!

The public only sees or hears about the serious side of the Navy SEALs and the results of our violent acts, those who have actually served and are serving in the SEAL teams know our way of life, and our humor. So, I had to say no disrespect intended for all those non-SEALs out there who do not understand a Navy SEAL's sense of humor or the life that we share/shared together. As "they" might think that I am being disrespectful in my writings about you, my brother SEALs, when nothing could be further from the truth.

If you are not a special operations person, or you have never been in combat, then you might find some of the humor in this book a bit odd, warped, uncouth, raw, or gross to say the least. So for all you lucky "average" people out there who are reading this book, it is my hope that after you have read "When the bullet hits your funny bone," you will possibly develop an understanding and an appreciation for the man who wears the Navy SEAL trident (the gold emblem portrayed on the cover of this book, which is worn on the uniform of all U.S. Navy SEALs). Because, in the performance of a U.S. Navy SEAL's professional duty, a U.S. Navy SEAL will face death so often that he will come to know Death by its first name, and if it were possible, a Navy SEAL would even invite Death for a beer.

 

Chapter 1

Underwater Demolition and SEAL Team History

By the end of the 1950s, there were very few Special Operations Forces. The Army had the Green Berets, and the Navy had their Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT). These elite units were trained to fight and operate behind the enemy lines of a conventional war, specifically in the event of a Russian drive through Europe.

The Navy entered the Vietnam conflict in 1960, when the UDTs delivered small watercraft far up the Mekong River into Laos. In 1961, Naval Advisers started training the Vietnamese UDTs. These men were called the Lien Doc Nguoi Nhia (LDNN), roughly translated as the "soldiers that fight under the sea."

President Kennedy, aware of the situations in Southeast Asia, recognized the need for a new type of military unit for this type of unconventional warfare and the need to utilize Special Operations units as a measure to combat guerrilla activity. In a speech to Congress in May 1961, Kennedy shared his deep respect of the Green Berets. He also announced the government's plan to put a man on the moon, and, in that same speech, he allocated over one hundred million dollars toward the strengthening of the Special Forces units in order to expand the strength of the American conventional forces.

Realizing the administration's favor of the Army's Green Berets, the Navy needed to determine its role within the Special Forces arena. In March of 1961, the Chief of Naval Operations recommended the establishment of guerrilla and counter-guerrilla units within the Navy. These units would be able to operate from sea, air, or land. This was the beginning of the official Navy SEALs. Many SEAL members came from the Navy's UDT units, who had already gained experience in commando warfare in Korea; however, the UDTs were still necessary to the Navy's amphibious force.

In 1962, President Kennedy established SEAL Team ONE, and SEAL Team TWO from the existing UDT Teams to develop a Navy Unconventional Warfare capability. The Navy SEAL Teams were designed as the maritime counterpart to the Army Special Forces "Green Berets." They deployed immediately to Vietnam to operate in the deltas and thousands of rivers and canals in Vietnam, and effectively disrupted the enemy's maritime lines of communication.

The first two teams were on opposite coasts: SEAL Team Two in Little Creek, Virginia, and SEAL Team ONE in Coronado, California. The men of the newly formed SEAL Teams were educated in such unconventional areas as hand-to-hand combat, high altitude parachuting, safecracking, demolition with explosives, advanced combat medicine, and foreign languages. Among the varied tools and weapons required by the SEAL Teams was the AR-15 assault rifle, a new design that evolved into today's M-16.

The SEALs attended UDT Replacement training and they spent some time cutting their teeth with a UDT Team. Upon making it to a SEAL Team, they would undergo a three-month SEAL Basic Indoctrination (SBI) training class at Camp Kerry in the Cuyamaca Mountains. After SBI training class, they would enter a platoon and train in platoon tactics (specifically for the conflict in Vietnam) in the swampy and muddy areas of the Alamo River in southern California.

The Pacific Command recognized Vietnam as a potential hot spot for conventional forces. In the beginning of 1962, the UDT started hydrographic surveys, and Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) was formed. In March of 1962, SEALs were deployed to Vietnam for the purpose of training South Vietnamese commandos in the same methods that they themselves were trained.

The SEAL Teams' mission was to conduct counter guerrilla warfare and clandestine maritime operations. Initially, SEALs advised and trained Vietnamese forces, such as the LDNN (Vietnamese SEALs). Later in the war, SEALs conducted reconnaissance missions, and nighttime Direct Action missions such as ambushes and raids to capture prisoners of high intelligence value.

In February 1963, operating from USS Weiss, a Naval Hydrographic recon unit from UDT 12 started surveying just south of Da Nang. From the beginning, they encountered sniper fire and on 25 March, they were attacked. The unit managed to escape without any injuries. The survey was considered complete and the USS Weiss returned to Subic Bay in the Philippines where the UDTs had their forward deployed base.

The CIA utilized Navy SEALs for covert operations in early 1963. At the outset of the war, operations consisted of ambushing resupply movements, and locating and capturing North Vietnamese officers. However, due to poor intelligence information, these operations were not very successful. When the SEALs were given the resources to develop their own intelligence network, the information became much more timely and reliable. The SEALs were so effective that the enemy named them, "the men with the green faces." At the war's height, and primarily in the Mekong Delta area, eight SEAL platoons were in Vietnam on a continuing rotational basis. The last SEAL platoon departed Vietnam in 1971 and the last SEAL advisor in 1973.

On 28 October 1965, Robert J. Fay was the first SEAL killed in Vietnam by a mortar round. The first SEAL killed while engaged in active combat was Radarman second-class Billy Machen who was killed in a firefight on 16 August 1966. Machen's body was retrieved with the help of fire support from two helicopters, after the team was ambushed during a daylight patrol. Machen's death was a hard reality for the SEAL teams, and a sign of what was yet to come. Between 1965 and 1972, there were 46 SEALs killed in Vietnam.

The SEAL teams experienced the Vietnam War like no others. Because of the thick jungle environment, combat with the VC was very close and personal. Unlike the conventional warfare methods of firing artillery into a designated location, or dropping bombs from thirty thousand feet, the SEALs operated within inches of their enemy targets. SEALs had to kill at short range and respond without hesitation or be killed. Into the early 70s, the SEALs made great headway with this new style of warfare. Their method of fighting comprised the most effective counter-guerrilla and guerrilla actions of the war. The SEALs in general showed an immense success rate. The U.S. Navy SEALs earned numerous awards and citations, and they became one of the most highly decorated units of the Vietnam War.

On May 1, 1983, all U.S. Navy UDTs were re-designated as U.S. Navy SEAL Teams or Swimmer Delivery Vehicle Teams (SDVT). SDVTs have since been re-designated SEAL Delivery Vehicle Teams.

The U.S. Navy SEAL teams are split into two groups, Group ONE is based on the West Coast near San Diego, CA under the Pacific Command, while Group TWO resides on the East Coast at Virginia Beach, VA under the Atlantic Command.

The current U.S. Navy SEAL teams include teams 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 10 with SEAL Team 6 being renamed U.S. Navy Development Group or DEVGRU. There are two SEAL Submersible Diving Vehicle units SDV team 1, and SDV team 2.

I do not have the statistics of all those who have fallen in WWII;. my best efforts start with the Korean War. The Naval Special Warfare community lost two frogmen during the Korean War, 49 Frogmen and SEALs combined during the Vietnam War, 4 SEALs during the Grenada conflict, and 4 SEALs during the Panama conflict. Sadly, as of this writing, a total of 41 SEAL have fallen in Afghanistan and Iraq.

There have been other SEALs and Frogmen who have fallen both in training and in actual operations. As a testament to the degree of realism and operational tempo that all U.S. Navy SEALs must train, the number of Navy SEAL deaths due to non-combat and training accidents outnumber SEAL combat deaths more than two to one.

End of the history lesson... Well, at least for now.

 

Chapter 2

Some Background Information

To all of you younger SEALs out there that do not know me, I guess I need to establish my credentials. You, the reader, might be unfamiliar with the U.S. Navy SEALs, and you should know that there are many people out there claiming to be Navy SEALs (especially after the killing of Bin Laden), who are, in fact, not Navy SEALs or Frogmen at all. Recent estimates from the FBI place the reported number of phony SEALs at about 300 phony SEALs for every real Navy SEAL, and with the fame of the U.S. Navy SEALs in the news, the numbers of phony SEALs keeps growing.

Should you ever want to find out if someone who is claiming to be a Navy SEAL is indeed (and you really should check) a Navy SEAL or a Frogman (a Frogman is the name given to the men who were in the U.S. Navy or served as scout raiders in WWII and later called the Underwater Demolition Teams. They existed long before the Navy SEALs, and they are the cornerstone from which the birth of today's Navy SEALs came), just ask them for their full name, and their class number (no one ever forgets their class number. That is a BIG clue that they are a phony if they say that they do not remember it).

Once you have gleaned the proper information, go to an official SEAL website, or you can YouTube "Phony Navy Seals" by Don Shipley or Steve Robinson, on any computer. Submit the name of the person in question (the Naval Special Warfare center has the name of EVERY person who was a member of the World War Two Scouts and Raiders, NCDUs, UDTs, and they also have the names of every U.S. Navy SEAL since their establishment in 1962), include the person's class number in which they claim to have graduated (it's ok if you do not have it or if they said, "I don't remember it."), and you will soon have your answer.

In addition, there is NO truth to the phrase, "What I did in the SEAL teams was so secret that there is no record of me." Or "My records are sealed or were destroyed to protect me from foreign government agencies." Or "I did not go through the BUD/S training, because I was recruited directly into the SEAL teams." People who say that stuff are full of 100% pure USDA BS!

As to what exactly is a U.S. Navy SEAL? Well, in my humble opinion, a Navy SEAL comes from a common family brought up on the traditional beliefs of God, family, and country. He is a dedicated professional who loves his family, his country, his teammates, and the flag under which he so proudly serves/served. It is for those core principals that he is willing to sacrifice all in the name of honor and freedom for which he so strongly believes.

As I had said earlier, I had graduated in UDTRA class 58. UDTRA means Underwater Demolition Training; this was before BUD/S, which means Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training. I was a "West Coast puke," or a "Hollywood Frogman," which are harassing terms of endearment given by East Coast SEALs, for the SEALs that went through training in sunny southern California or who are/were stationed on the West Coast).

I spent almost 15 years at SEAL Team One before transferring to the East Coast. What was the reason for my transfer? Well, I decided to go to DLI (Defense Language Institute) to learn how to speak, read, and write Spanish; as Mexico was close to our base in San Diego, I thought that this was a logical thing for me to do.

Before graduating from DLI, I was informed that the Department of the Navy was putting together a few new SEAL teams to deal with the various threats around the world, and I was going to be sent to SEAL Team 4. SEAL Team 4 was going to need Spanish speakers to deal with the possible threats in Central and South America, and this was going to be SEAL Team Four's new operational area. Therefore, after graduating from DLI, I was transferred to the East Coast for my new assignment at SEAL Team Four (so much for my logic about Mexico).

Not that SEAL Team 2 (which is stationed/located on the East Coast) could not handle going anywhere in the world to meet a threat or challenge. They already had members of their SEAL team in Central and South America, and they are/were extremely professional at what they did, and they were doing an outstanding job down there.

The basic reason for the change was because SEALs were/are in high demand, and it was the sign of the times, because the operational tempo of the SEAL teams was increasing dramatically. SEALs were spending more time overseas on operational missions than they were at home with their families. It was not unusual for certain members of a SEAL Team to spend a year or more deployed to a contested area of the world.

In order to fill this huge and immediate requirement for new SEAL Teams, the higher-ups solved the manning problem by converting all Underwater Demolition Teams into SEAL teams. I guess this was a logical segue, because, by and large, beach reconnaissance for amphibious landings was becoming outdated. Many of us within the SEAL Teams found this idea to be similar to any small corporation that is bought out by a larger corporation; as they are absorbed into "the Borg" of the larger corporation, "Resistance is futile!"

The downside of this is that your unit/organization becomes less the general practitioners in the art of unconventional warfare, and more of an expensive surgical unit with specific operational skill sets to a certain theater of operation. Your unit has become less likely to adapt and deploy to any new threats around the globe, and less elite (in my opinion), which is also why there are so many different SEAL Teams, as each SEAL Team has their own designated area of expertise for a certain area of the world.

While I was assigned to SEAL Team One, I deployed numerous times. I also became an instructor within the "training cell" at SEAL Team One, life on the West Coast was great, and I never wanted to go to the East Coast. I mean come on, who would want to leave the hot babes, beaches, mountains, and deserts? Well, the West Coast babes were hot until you pissed them off, then you realized that babe is not a babe at all, but someone with a cold heart. As Will Greer said in the movie Jeremiah Johnson, "A woman's heart is the coldest stone on earth, and I can find no man's mark on it."

But mostly, guys stay on a certain coast because they develop a "comfort zone" with the team to which they are assigned. However, let me say here that I preferred being stationed on the East Coast more than I did being stationed on the West Coast. The reason for me was a simple one; people on the East Coast seemed to be more apt at looking out for a SEAL's family while he was deployed overseas (at least back in my day this was true). Because, when you are deployed or in a combat zone, you have enough "things" going on in your life to worry about without the added burden of not being there to help your family should something happen to them.

Many SEALs brag to other SEALs about going through training in a winter class, because it was supposedly colder and more difficult. There is no doubt that this WAS true for all the trainees who went through training (many years ago) on the East Coast. For all you West Coast SEALs that have never been to Little Creek, VA in the wintertime for an ocean swim, picture busting the shore ice in a snowstorm just so you can get out in deep enough seawater to do your two-mile morning swim every week. I went through a summertime training class on the West Coast, so sue me!

Upon my completion of DLI (Defense Language Institute) for Spanish, and being assigned to UDT-21/SEAL Team 4 on the East Coast (remember that this was during the time that all UDTs became SEAL teams), and after I had settled into my new team assignments at SEAL Team Four, I was asked by a few of the East Coast SEALs, who have never been to the West Coast, what my training was like. So I told them that it was so hot during my training on the West Coast that we were all given glasses of ice water to drink by the instructors. The instructors would also turn on huge fans to cool us down during our ten-minute workouts before they made us get into the air-conditioned trucks to transport us over to the dining hall where we were served lobster and steak dinners by the instructors.

It always amazed me that one or two East Coast guys would believe that crap.

For me, UDT training was a real revelation. I never knew that people in our military that are responsible for training men to be the best in the world in unconventional warfare, could make you feel as if they themselves were the enemy. Our instructors were looking for intelligent men who could take pain, endure suffering, and who would never quit under any kind of pressure. Every student who went through UDTRA or BUD/S training would come to realize that this was a testament to how seriously the instructors took their jobs, and they took it personally to put only the very best individuals into the SEAL teams.

Because, as it was before my time in the teams, when I was in the teams, and as it is to this very day, lives depend on it.

 

 

 

When the Bullet Hits Your Funny Bone Copyright 2012. Billy Allmon. All rights reserved by the author. Please do not copy without permission.

 

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Author Bio

William Allmon is a retired Navy SEAL and honorably served his country from 1969 to 1993. He retired as a chief petty officer, and is a combat veteran of three wars. While in the SEALs, Mr. Allmon participated in numerous covert and overt missions around the world in support of US and foreign governments, militaries, and other official agencies.

TTB title:
When the Bullet Hits Your Funny Bone: the essence of a U.S. Navy SEAL

Author web site

 

###

 

To order this book:

Format: Trade Paperback
    Available now!

List Price: $16.95 USD

 

  Reviews
"With Navy SEALs much ballyhoo'ed in the news in the last year, it's good to find out what they're really like. Billy Allmon, a retired SEAL, gives us the insider's look at these elite soldier/sailors. He tells the tale of the formation and history of the SEALs, because he lived it himself. He shows us the laughter, the tears, the hopes and fears and above all, the HUMANITY of the SEALs, as no one else ever could. Fascinating reading, a must for anyone interested in military history or the inside story of this unique breed of warrior."
Stephanie Osborn, author of Burnout: the mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281, The Case of the Displaced Detective: The Arrival and The Case of the Displaced Detective: At Speed.
 




"Billy Allmon's paean to the life and laughs of Navy SEALS hits with the force of a well-placed head shot. A sort of "humor in uniform on steroids," When the Bullet Hits Your Funny Bone lets you share the good and bad times with Allmon and his high-charged buddies as they take on the officious brass, jealous allies and comrades, nasty civilians, and even themselves. Whether training in sunny Southern California or deploying on secret missions, the SEALS bring their own brand of humor with them. A humor that bespeaks the shared hardships in an elite military culture that is often celebrated but little understood."
S. W. O'Connell, author of The Patriot Spy.
 



"Many military biographies or autobiographies give all kinds of history of the person, but forget about the origins of the unit or units they're writing about. When the Bullet Hits Your Funny Bone by Billy Allmon is a truly different kind of military autobiography of SEAL life. He writes about being a SEAL with an authentic voice since he was there almost at the beginning of the formation of the famous units and he gives us a good history of how and why it was formed. I like that.

"I also like humorous military books simply because the vast majority of them are anything but funny. I guess that's natural since combat is so soul-wrenching most of the time but for that very reason those in the military have to find things to laugh at.

"The SEALs apparently are a special bunch in this regard. Allmon tells of some truly hilarious aspects of SEAL life such as measuring new tadpoles (trainees) for body bags or filling the heavy boats they have to carry around during training with helium. There are many other incidents as you might guess from the title but I won't spoil the book for you by relating them here. I'll simply say that SEALs really understand the meaning of "payback"! Any SEAL who tries to set himself above his buddies is likely to regret it--in spades.

"Read this book and I'll guarantee you'll laugh!"
Darrell Bain, author of Medics Wild

 

 

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