24 Elite Navy Seals Reveal The Secret To Their Toughness & How They Made It Through Hell Week

 

Hell Week may be the toughest, most grueling training in the U.S. Military.

Its an extreme test of physical endurance, mental fortitude, intense pain, frigid temperatures, attitude, teamwork and an individual’s capacity to perform under high physical and emotional stress in the midst of sleep deprivation.

Imagine being bitterly cold, constantly wet, learning insanely difficult operational training for 5 1/2 days straight… all with only four hours of sleep.

On average, a candidate will consume 7,000 calories a day… and still lose weight.

Only 25% will make it through.

What separates the successful from the rest?

Researchers don’t know. Yet, they have learned that candidates that are the largest or strongest or fastest seem to have no advantage over the rest.

To see what Hell Week is like, check out this video from Extreme Seal Experience:

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Why Am I Writing This Article?

When I was in High School, I wanted to be a famous martial artist. I was enamored by the work of Bruce Lee and I wanted to be just like him.

I set my alarm for 4:30a.m. and for about a 6-month stretch would wake up at that ungodly hour to practice. I went through my forms, did strength training, shadow boxing, visualization, energy work and what ever else I could think of.

From 4:30am to 7:30am I was a machine.

One morning was particularly difficult. The alarm went off and I told myself, “To hell with this! I’m going back to sleep!” Yet, something deep inside me said, “No, you have to push. You have to do it. Quitting is not an option.”

I begrudgingly dragged my butt out of bed, turned on my Gladiator music, flipped the light switch and started throwing my punches.

Then something interesting happened…

With each punch, my energy grew. I began to feel something deep inside of me that I had never felt before. It was a sense of power that was beyond what I had ever experienced.

It seemed to well up from the very ground I was standing on and course through my entire body. I began to throw punches… faster… and stronger than I had ever done before and could ever have imagined.

For 3 full hours I was alive.

To this day, I can’t remember a practice session that was better than that one.

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The lesson that I learned is that sometimes, we have to push through difficulty in order to experience more… to be more.

As I reflect on the state of America, I can’t help but think that many of us struggle with overcoming difficulty.

*We give into our cravings… and 1/3 of America ends up obese.

*We escape the difficulty in relationships through pornography or extra marital affairs… and 50% of our marriages end up in divorce.

*We lose our focus & productivity at work… and have to rely on 5 Hour Energy Drinks to get us through.

 

Have we become a weak society?

I don’t believe we have.

However, I do think many of us struggle with a weak mind.

We have not trained ourselves to push through difficulty.

We don’t fully embrace that any goal worth pursuing will be a struggle. We will feel pain and discomfort.

We lose the Battle of the Mind because we are not mentally prepared.

I believe we need to push our bodies and minds so that they meet adversity with tenacity & strength… and not buckle under the weight of hardship.

 

***Consider the postage stamp: its usefulness consists in the ability to stick to one thing till it gets there. – Josh Billings***

Yet it’s easier said than done, right?

How do we actually overcome difficult times when they arise?

I had the same question too.

That’s why I reached out to 24 individuals that know a little something about overcoming difficulty.

*To help us learn the strategies for increasing our inner strength and teach us what it takes to stick with a task until it is done, I recruited the help of the most elite special forces branch in our U.S. Military…The Navy SEALs.

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I asked each SEAL this question:

“When you were in Hell Week, and the cold, sleep deprivation and total physical exhaustion were telling you to give up, what did you do to motivate yourself to keep going?”

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You will find the answers enlightening. As you read each insight… each story… think of challenges in your own life.

Ask yourself the question: “How can I apply these principles to overcoming my own battles?”

*Important Note About Fake Navy SEALs:

Ever since the killing of Osama Bin Laden and the release of “Act of Valor” many communities have experienced the rise of “stolen valor incidents.” This is when an individual claims to be a Navy SEAL… but is not.

Lying about being a Navy SEAL is stealing the honor and prestige away from those individuals that have served & given their lives for our country.

If you ever find yourself in front of someone that is claiming to be a SEAL, ask them what BUD/S Class they were in. This is the training that each individual must pass through to become a SEAL. We are currently up to 294. I have included the BUD/S Class of each individual next their name.

If you know of someone that is claiming to be a SEAL and want to verify if there are telling the truth, visit my buddies at Stolen Valor. They are extremely helpful.

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Todd’s Notes:

1. The below are direct quotes from the SEALs. I highlighted certain parts in each quote that were particularly insightful for me. Hope they are for you as well.

2. One our very own SOA community members, Jason Sonnier, is currently training to become a SEAL. I have dedicated this article to him. To learn more about him and how he is preparing for Hell Week, scroll to the end of the article.

3. Also, I have included 3 Lessons I have learned from discussing difficulty with these SEALs.

 

Reflections, Stories and Insights From 24 Inspirational Navy SEALs:

 

Ron Seiple – BUD/S Class 34

“I really never had any thoughts of dropping out.   I was more interested in winning the races to be the boat crew that got to finish hell week a few hours earlier than the others.  

I recall the Saturday morning when we were just about done and we had not won because we were caught getting a ride on a truck down the Silver Strand and the instructors took all of our points away and we still almost came back and won.   That Saturday morning they ask if anyone could do sit ups with this large weight behind their head.  Lt Finnegan and I were the only ones who could do it.   That weekend my ankles swelled up so large I couldn’t get my shoes on, my buddy Ens Weaver got cellulitis in his ankle so bad he couldn’t walk but he didn’t quit and is now a retired Capt like myself.  

You don’t ever let quitting enter your mind as it is a sickness that will weaken you I have never quit at anything including two Hawaii Ironman Triathlons.   I had a knee problem and was actually offered the option to quit Class 34 and roll back and I said hell know and worked on my knee and it got better.   Never quit, never consider it!

 

Al Horner – BUD/S Class 45

“It seems like each guy hits that moment during Hell Week when he has reached his limit.  Too cold, too tired, too thirsty, too hungry, too sore, too much pain from that part of my body that has been bruised repeatedly, and too emotionally drained to remain positive. For me it was in the middle of the 18-mile sand run on Wednesday night.  I was a strong swimmer, but a lower-half-of-the-class runner and this long run was what worried me most. An instructor dropped me for a hundred push-ups in the sand halfway through the run. I was tired when I started them and by the time I was done, it felt like all my strength had drained from my body and out through my hands into the sand.  When I looked up, the guys were out of sight and I was afraid I couldn’t catch them.  The Instructor must have seen the look on my face because he bored right in with, “Why are you doing this to yourself?  Let’s go over to the truck.  It’s warm and I have blankets, coffee, and food.  You can be comfortable quickly over there”.  That was the moment when I came closest to quitting. I almost gave up. But then I looked out over the bay and saw a gray ship.  If I quit, that was where I might end up. Then I saw myself with the SEAL emblem on my chest.  That was what I wanted.  I decided that the only way that a’hole could get me to quit was if I broke my leg.  As long as any other guy was still in the class, I’d be there too.  If we all quit, I would be the last one! I didn’t know if I could finish the run, but I knew I could take one more step. I did it. And then I took another, and another, and another. A couple hours later the sun came up as we finished the run.  I had made it. Piece of cake now with the run completed. Only two more days to go. No way they can make me quit.

My wife barely recognized me when she picked me up at the end of the week.  Hunched over, skinny, sewer mud in my ears and nose, limping on what turned out to be a stress-fractured left knee joint.  I slept all weekend.  But I had jumped the biggest hurdle they would throw at us. Never want to do again, but couldn’t be more glad that I did it once.

 

Roger Guerra – BUD/S Class 48

“That’s a great question and not necessarily an easy answer as there are many reasons.  My primary motivation during Hell Week and training was that ever since I was a very young lad, all I ever wanted and cared about was being a Navy Frogman.  There was nothing in my eyes that compared to the skill and daring of Frogmen.  As sleep deprived/ tired/ hungry and cold as I was, I wanted to be part of the teams more than anything in my whole life.  My brother was a Green Beret but I didn’t see that as the ultimate challenge so I prepared myself and tried out to get orders to go to BUDS, and, because if you failed they would send you to the fleet on some tub didn’t hurt my motivation either.  As one of my more famous team mates is known to say, “Can’t Quit, Not Dead!” That is the kind of motivation you need to get through training!”

 

Daniel Olson – BUD/S Class 39

“I started in Class 6701 (Class 39) in January 1967. I was in Hell Week in February 1967 in Little Creek, VA. I froze my fingers holding on to the “D” ring on the IBS we were carrying, (I didn’t get feeling back in them until after jump school, in Aug. that year.) we had to jump up and down on the ice beneath the “Slide for life” one of the obstacles on the “O” Course so we could toss the broken ice out of the pond so that when we fell off the S for L we wouldn’t get hurt on the ice. This in 30 degree weather. We had a “wet suit appreciation day” where we swam in the Chesapeake Bay, in Feb. in swim trunks. I slipped on the ice Thur night of Hell week and fell down into some huge boulders on the breakwater at the entrance to LC HarborI broke my leg but I continued on to finish Hell week with a hairline stress fracture of my tibia. Yeah, it hurt! On Sunday they sent me to the hospital and rolled me back to Class 6702 (Class 40). A couple of Marines and I cut the cast off 2 days early with screwdrivers and pliers so I could be ready to start training the following Monday.

To answer your primary question, What made us stay….?  I dunno. Maybe I was too stupid, or too stubborn, to quit. Or, more likely, it was because I wouldn’t leave my buddies. If I quit, they would have to haul the damn boat without me. I wasn’t going to do that to them. I think that’s one of the primary things that keep people going in tough times, or in combat; their friends and family depend on them. Training weeds out the self-serving, selfish individuals, and keeps the team players whom we can count on to be there when we need each other.”

 

Walter Diaczenko – BUD/S Class 48

I sang songs in my head or put myself in another place to take my mind off what was happening to me.  I also had the fuk-it attitude where-as I said fuk-it and just did whatever the instructors dreamed up to make us suffer.  I never dwelled on the current or the past only that there was light at the end of the tunnel.  I looked for the sunrise knowing another day was over.  We were zombies by Wednesday and just kept moving.  I was in Class UDTB 7001 Little Creek East Coast or BUDS 48 “East” in the current configuration.   I was also in a WINTER class.  I know a lot classes claim to be the coldest ever but our claim to be the coldest was that we had snow on ground, icicles on the windows, ice in the inlet, ice on the beach, and we had to break ice to get to the water at Desert Cove and behind the grinder.  Being cold was an understatement.  I remember shaking so violently that I thought my teeth were going to shatter and my neck was going to snap.  When the instructors said they were cold in their “dry” artic parkas, then you can imagine how cold the trainees were.  I was too dumb to know better and kept telling myself the secret to making it all the way through was “not to quit” under any circumstances.  They could beat you, run you, make you endure untold cold and pain, and kill you……but they could never make you quit.  You actually thought that you were invincible when you were done with training.  We had “swim training” in Rozy Roads PR and our final swim was from the island of Vieques to Puerto Rico.  The instructors made us swim in to the beach before we got started so the “straight line distance was 8.2 miles and calculated to 10.3 miles with the currents………….. and it took me 7-hours 15-minutes.  My feet hurt so bad I could barely climb the ladder to the pier….but I made it and the hard training was over at that point.

I think the key to making all the way it is to keep a positive attitude at all times.  Never have a negative thought…period end of story.  Once a negative thought gets into your head you’re done…… because one negative thought leads to another and then it’s a slippery slope to quitting.

 

Steve Robinson – BUD/S Class 59

“I knew about the SEAL Teams and the UDTs in the early 1960s, and decided that’s what I wanted to do with my life long before I was old enough to enlist. From 1967 to 1969 I lived on a Caribbean island, swimming long distances and spear fishing every single day, running miles to my favorite beaches with all my gear. I was in top physical shape for activities both in and out of the ocean, and I’d already made my peace with the idea of dying at sea; by the time I returned to the continental US in mid-1969, I was ready to be a “Frogman”!

I started talking with the Navy recruiters in the summer of 1969, signed the enlistment paperwork in late December, and reported for boot camp in San Diego on 5 January 1970. I was what was called a SEAL “walk-in candidate” because I’d already gone through a bunch of physical and psychological screening prior to even entering the Navy. All during boot camp the other guys in my boot company kept razzing me about trying out for SEAL duty, insisting that I wouldn’t even make it past the fourth meal, much less complete the training. I entered SEAL Training weighing in at 145 lbs and looked like a small chunk of split rail fence, but I was absolutely determined to prove all those guys wrong. I knew in my heart that I had the physical stamina to complete the training; it was only the mental barriers that I needed to overcome.

We had no formal “pre-indoctrination training” or preparation. Our class convened in mid September, and started with First Phase – the physical phase of training; the fifth week of First Phase training was HELL WEEK. All through Hell Week, whenever the training afforded a view of the fleet in San Diego Bay, or whenever I saw a naval ship off the Pacific coast entering or leaving the Bay, I’d concentrate on those haze gray monsters and tell myself over and over that if I didn’t suck it up and keep moving I’d end up calling one of them “home”. I concentrated on the idea that if I didn’t keep running, or crawling, or climbing, or whatever temporary unpleasantness the instructors were dishing out, I’d end up working as a deck hand on one of those ships, chipping paint, swabbing decks, and performing other menial tasks that the civilian world views as the most unpleasant of janitorial duties. I kept telling myself that I didn’t sign up to be a janitor, I signed up to be a Navy SEAL!

In my mind, I made every effort to imagine that shipboard life as the worst thing I could ever possibly experience, so that no matter how unpleasant or cold or painful my circumstances in BUD/S Training, I imagined it was much, much worse on board those ships. Of course that wasn’t the case; it isn’t the case. Shipboard life in the Navy is better by far than it was forty years ago when I was in BUD/S, but even then it certainly wasn’t the horrible existence I imagined. That was just a very useful fiction that I created for my personal purposes, to convince myself that I had to keep going… that I had to succeed at BUD/S or I’d end up on a ship, working alongside the very men from my boot camp company who had bet that I would fail at being a SEAL. I couldn’t possibly imagine allowing that to happen, of giving them the opportunity to say “I told you so!” No matter what I had to do, no matter how cold I got, no matter how long it had been since the last time I slept, it was the thought of that “horrible alternative” that kept me going at the toughest of times.

Despite all of that personal effort to convince myself to keep going, there were still moments when I might have eased up and fallen by the wayside had it not been for the personal encouragement of my BUD/S class senior officer. He was a truly charismatic leader, the sort of man who could yell “Follow Me!” and be assured that his entire command would follow him in a thundering charge through the very gates of Hell. Despite his teeth chattering as loudly as all the rest of us, despite shivering uncontrollably,  his calm voice and convincing assurance that “this is only temporary… it’s almost over” got many men in our class past those crucial moments when they might otherwise have thrown in the towel, rung the bell, and left the training. My friendship and trust for that man has not wavered over the years, and I’m proud to say I’m still in regular communication with him; he is Maurice “Maury” Docton… in my opinion one of the finest to ever serve in uniform.

 

John Gulick – BUD/S Class 45

“I had made up my mind that i was not going to quit – no matter what. Hell week’s intense discomfort & exhaustion was something to be endured – minute by minute. We never knew what was coming next. The trick was to just get through whatever was happening. I was out of adrenaline early in the week. Eating 4 meals a day helped the most. But swollen joints, hallucinations & complete exhaustion were things I accepted. It’s just good that it was only a week.

 

Don Shipley – BUD/S Class 131

“Quitting something like BUD/S Hell Week means it just got too hard for that person… For the guys that finish Hell Week it simply means it never got hard enough to make them quit

I wanted to be a SEAL; It never got hard enough to make me give up that goal…”

 

 

Bill Daugherty – BUD/S Class 23

“That was a easy one.  It all became a blur and did not even know what day or time it was.  You HAVE to and I emphasize HAVE to put your mind in neutral and  follow the rest of your class or lead them determining where you are in line.  Everyone depended on each other.  NO ONE could have made it by themselves. That’s why they call it a “TEAM”.  I was honor man of my class but i assure you there were 13 of us that were HONOR MAN.  So to sum it up.  Don’t think or look at your schedule or you will quit.  Just go with the flow and than on Friday at about 4″30 PM or 1600 when you come back and shower up you are the most proud group on this Planet Earth.  We were all grins and for the 1st time we were called MEN instead of other names I dare not mention.”

 

 

Bill Bruhmuller – BUD/S Class 13

“I’m sure that each Trainee has his own way of fighting off the urge to quit. I would grab a quick cat nap whenever possible. Second, I would keep reminding myself that in X number of hours this will  be over….so, I developed a ” short timers ” clock and started to subtract each hour as it passed.. Fortunately, none of the Hell week events were slow and that helped the time move faster. As the week comes close to a finish, I think your mind goes neutral and your body reacts to whatever your told to do.

For example, on a forced march (which is really a long duration run) you tend to concentrate on staying with the group. you don’t think about duration or distance, you just don’t want to fall behind the others and your not trying to be first… just finish. Additionally, I think hell week is a time when a guy develops an ” I will never give up” attitude. As you know this mentality that is developed in training will stick with a Seal throughout his life.

 

 

Stew Smith – BUD/S Class 182

“Truly – my mind never told me to give up though my body was beat down. My fellow graduates at SEAL training and I – We trained to compete – not just survive and that made all the difference.

 

 

 

Jack James – BUD/S Class 70

“The BUD/S Instructors motivated us to “keep going”.  My motivation to not quit, was that I did not want to go to the Fleet.  I had one single purpose goal; to graduate from BUD/S Training and to become a Navy SEAL.  Nothing was going to keep me from that objective.  The other reality is that during Hell Week, you don’t really “think” a lot; you just do it.  The main objective during Hell Week is to make it to the end of the week.  You typically don’t think beyond one-day-at-a-time, or even one training evolution/event at a time.  You just tend to move through things.  Do what you are told, suffer the cold, and help your classmates when you can.  Pretty basic stuff.”

 

Kory Knowles – BUD/S Class 167

“23 years ago this August was when I went through Hell Week.  That time has long since passed but the experience and the memories are still with me, as well as the unbreakable bond it has created with every Frogman past, present and future.  

Obviously I was very nervous going into Hell Week.  It is natural to fear the unknown and at that time very little was published about SEAL Training.  I remember going into the week with confidence and I had decided that I was going to do whatever it took to get through the week.  My swim buddy and I would say to each other, “It is mind over matter, if you don’t mind it don’t matter.”  My game plan was that I could make it from meal to meal.  5 hours of activity and 1 hour to eat and rest.  Some activities felt like they would never end but I refused to be broken and knew it had to be this way. Part of getting through Hell Week was understanding the purpose and process of Hell Week.  Hell Week is design as the ultimate test of will and tenacity.  It will also show you that you are capable of 20 times more than you ever thought you could accomplish.

On Thursday night I had an opportunity to go in the barracks and change uniforms but I headed to the pay phone.  I called my mom and after waking her up in the middle of the night I told her that they could not break me and I would never quit!  I truly believed I would get through the week and nothing could derail me from my goal.  Yes it hurt, No I didn’t enjoy it and Yes it was worth it.  First step was my belief in myself and the next step was going through Hell while acting on my belief.  Hooyah!”

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(Todd’s side note: Kory told me about his classes’ motto that I had to include here. I thought it was awesome:  “Anyone can go to Hell, let’s see you make it back.“)

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Larry Bailey – BUD/S Class 30

“The best advice I ever got regarding getting through Hell Week was given me by Instructor John Parrish: “Put your mind in neutral and your ass in gear.”  That was exactly what I was able to do. Also, I think I was able to combine several “don’t quit” incentives into one overarching theme of “sticking it out.”  Those included having a bit of built-in fire in the gut, a strong commitment not to go back to destroyer duty, a desire to make something extraordinary of myself, and a sort of passive acceptance of what was coming next.  (Milking cows ain’t all bad if you want to become a SEAL!) :-)”

 

Don C. Marler – BUD/S Class 6

“During Hell Week , for us, the 7th week of training, was the worst only because it came so suddenly after being prepared for it. Many of us noted that every week thereafter was like Hell Week. It reduced one so that his core strengths and weaknesses were revealed for all to see but most importantly so the individual could see and feel for himself. I was reduced to this:”I will finish because I started.” I also put my termination from training on the instructors. “I will not quit; if I leave it will be your decision.”

 

Denny Johnson – BUD/S Class 42

“To get through Hell Week:

1.   Make up your mind to do it.
2.   Proceed one step, one hour, one evolution at a time.
3.   Help your team mates whenever you can.
4.   Keep going.

It’s pretty simple.”

 

Al Mo’reno – BUD/S Class 142

“In BUDS I relied on the fact that the brain may be present but the mind can travel and be in many places at once…”. 

 

Joe Yarborough – BUD/S Class 77

“I relied on my classmates and much as anyone, but I knew before I started that I would never quit as there was nothing else I wanted more than this.”

 

John Roat – BUD/S Class 29

“The only thing that got me through was my classmates. They were pulling me while I was pulling them. No one gets through training alone, no one!”

 

Ben Lichtenberg – BUD/S Class 108

“I went through Hell Week with Class 107 in December of ’79 (graduated with 108 after getting rolled back when my sister died) and it got down into the 30′s when we were at the mud flats so it was cold but to answer your question, you can’t get through Hell Week or BUD/S for that matter on your own motivation you have to rely on the support of your team mates as well. There comes a point in time somewhere in BUD/S where everyone has that moment when they say I’ve had enough (anybody who tells you different is lying to you) it may be in Hell Week, it may be in surf passage, or rock portage but at some point in time everyone thinks it and that’s when you rely on your team mates to give you that extra push to get you over that moment. Sometimes it may take them grabbing you and holding you down or just talking to you. If you don’t have that you will quit. I don’t remember really the exact moment that I had that thought… probably on a long run but I do remember thinking about my classmates and what they would think about me if I quit and that’s what got me through my moment.”

 

Stuart Sorg – BUD/S Class 10

“With temperatures hovering between 30 and 36 degrees each day, and the trainers trying to find more ways to keep us out in the cold, and our original 150, now down to 70 and ending with 15 three months later… The key to surviving was working each day, by the day, by hour, by the minute, and as each person kept falling (giving up), I knew I had to some how finish this toughest time in my life.”

 

Larry BurchettBUD/S Class 50

“Pain, lots of pain and TEAM MATES push each other as hard and far as it takes to make it. We did not think, we just did. When someone drops out on a boat team, the rest have to carry the extra weight. That was something none wanted. We were told that our Class had the lowest drop rate to date at that time. It was and still is an amazing group of men that I had the pleasure to train with. We had 44 at the end of our Class.”

 

Patrick Park -BUD/S Class 40

“No matter what, they can’t kill me, that’s against the rules.
Others have run this same route and they lived.
I will not quit!
No matter what, you can’t make me ring that bell.
If my class mates can do this, I can!
Just finish this evolution, the next one is easier.
Quit, how do you spell that?
The reward for this is a weekend of SLEEP.”

 

Robert Muzslay – BUD/S Class 16

“I went through a winter class on the east coast.  I have never been so called in my life.  On the last day of Hell Week the instructors had us in a group laying in the sand and set off a ton of explosives around us.  I fell asleep and my teammates had to wake me up to move to the next obstacle.  Training took you to what you thought was your limit then you had the motivation to go beyond that.  We had a saying, KEEP YOUR MIND IN NEUTRAL AND YOUR BUTT IN GEAR.  The bottom line is each individual that completed training had within his heart and mind to complete training and quitting was not an option.”

 

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3 Lessons I Learned From Writing This Article:

 

1. Never, ever entertain the thought, “I can’t”.

I remember a story my catholic religion teacher told my class in high school. He was a young man at a wedding and met a couple that had been married for over 60 years. He thought about how so many marriages end in divorce. So he asked the couple how they made it through. The man thought for a moment, and then said, “Janice and I have gone through some very difficult times. Yet, divorce was never an option.”

These inspirational SEALs reveal the same insight. Quitting is never an option. We will always find a way through as long as we don’t entertain options of defeat. Yet as soon as the thought, “I don’t think I can do this.” creeps into our mind. We are done.

 

2. It Takes A Team To Succeed

No one can get anywhere without a team to support them. They say you are a combination of the 5 people you spend most of your time with. I totally agree. At some point, our mind’s will fail us and we will want to quit. It is the team that surrounds that will push us through.

 

3. Don’t Have A Plan B

I spoke with several of these SEALs and one thing was apparent: none of them wanted to be back on the Navy ship mopping floors, painting walls, cleaning toilets, or whatever else. Each of them only wanted to be a Frogman. They said that their plan B was so unattractive that it drove them to push through the difficulty of their plan A.

 

A Big Thank You!!!

I want to extend a huge thank you to each of these Navy SEALs that contributed to this article. You are a blessing to this country and each reader at A Shot of Adrenaline extends our gratitude to you and your service, sacrifice and commitment.

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Hope you all have enjoyed learning these insights as much as I have enjoyed sharing them.

Best wishes with your training and overcoming your challenges.

Hooyah!!!

-Todd

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Navy SEAL Resources:

Many of the above Navy SEALs own businesses and websites. You may learn a little bit more about what they are doing by clicking on the below links.

-Navy SEAL Official Site
Learn more about the Navy SEALs by clicking here.

-Navy Special Warfare Foundation
This is where the Navies’ Fallen Heroes are posted.

-Navy SEAL Museum
Learn more about this history of the SEALs and Navy Special Warfare.

-Steve Robinson’s SEAL Blog
Not sure how often Steve updates it but there is some great information on the Stolen Valor Act.

-Don Shipley’s Extreme SEAL Experience
Don runs a wickedly cool website called Extreme SEAL Experience. I highly recommend it. He also has some extremely popular YouTube videos that show case the SEAL experience.

-Stew Smith’s Fitness Site
Stew runs a really cool fitness site for athletes, military, police, special ops, and fire fighters. You’ll definitely want to check this one out. He has a ton of articles as well. To read them, click here. Also, you’ll definitely have to check out his Hell Week Team picture. Very inspirational!

-Kory Knowles Blog
Kory shares some great information on what it takes to become a Navy SEAL.

-Larry Bailey & Stolen Valor
As mentioned above, it is incredibly important to honor our real SEALs by reporting anyone that you suspect might be lying about being one. Contact my buddy Larry by visiting Stolen Valor. He is extremely helpful.

-Don Marler’s Blog
Don shares his thoughts on everything from religion to travel on his personal blog. I found this article especially interesting. It talks about although in terms of casualties and war is concerned, Islamic extremists have killed relatively few of us. Yet what they have done is shift our entire thinking, caused us to spend trillions of dollars on the war on terror, etc. Great read!

-John Roat’s book: Class-29: The Making of U.S. Navy SEALs
I haven’t read the book yet but it certainly looks fascinating. Would have been a fantastic resource for this article as it dives deeper into SEAL training.

 

 

Comments

  1. Dawn says

    Excellent article. I wish more people understood what teamwork really is. Thank you for the time you put into this.

    • Todd Kuslikis says

      You are very welcome Dawn. Yes, teamwork is so important. We are much stronger together and need to rely on the strength of the people around us.

  2. Dan Lyons says

    So inspirational! These guys are heroes, no doubt about it!
    Thanks for sharing this, Todd!

    Hey, I’m into day #10 of the 3 month extreme plan. ]
    My numbers for each exercise are in the 20s!
    I’m still not doing the gracie drill exercise correctly.

    I’ll start month 2 of the plan that you sent me, on Monday.
    Until then, I must push for the most numbers over the next couple of days!
    Thanks again, Todd!

    • Todd Kuslikis says

      That’s awesome Dan! Congratulations! You’re making incredible progress.

      I would recommend watching the Gracie Drill video slowly and just working on form at first. http://ashotofadrenaline.net/gracie-drill-exercise

      Keep me posted on how you’re doing. Also, if you’re not already, you’ll want to start focusing on nutrition as well. That is absolutely essential for strength gains.

      Peace!

      Todd

  3. Erasmo"Doc Rio"Rioja says

    Todd Kuslikis,
    Terrific article produced by your persistance to seek the truth from some of
    the men who did the walk to earn their “Bud.”

    Thank you for being my WWW pen pal. I hope someday we will meet.

    Erasmo “Doc Rio” Riojas
    Native born Texican

    HooYah!

    Semper Fi !

    • Todd Kuslikis says

      Hi Doc,

      Thanks so much! Yes, it was a deep honor to have your help in reaching these guys and it was a privilege to get to know you by pen pal.

      I hope we can meet at some point too!

      Keep in touch. If I’m ever down in Texas (I live in Michigan) I’ll have to look you up!

      Hooyah!!

      Todd

  4. says

    I graduated BUD/S class 55. Most important reason for success during Hell Week was to not even think about quitting and to make it through from evolution to evolution. Certainly don’t look at the schedule.

    What I tell people though is that “quitting” is an option and I was too dumb to think about my options. Only one course of action was to keep moving forward.

    Hooyah!

    Mike

    • Todd Kuslikis says

      That’s great Michael! And great advice. Yeah, that’s what I learned – I liked the comment about putting your mind in neutral and just going with it.

      Hooyah Mike! Glad you liked the article!

      Todd

  5. says

    Fantastic work Todd!

    “Quitting is not an option.” The moment you look at it that way, it all becomes simpler.

    Will definitely try to add that to my life, business and training even more.

    Cheers!
    Phil

    • Todd Kuslikis says

      Thanks Phil! I appreciate it!

      Yep, quitting is never an option. Words of wisdom from these SEALs. And yes, definitely applies to all facets of our lives. :)

      Todd

  6. Gary Penn, class 65 says

    Mustanger CWO Scotty Lyons was shooting a new promo video to replace ‘Men With Green Faces’, through my class, mostly. I think there were some in 63 and maybe 64, that were in later phases when Scotty was developing the ‘Someone Special’ movie promo (this was on 8 and 16mm formats…several cameras, all the damn time) and probably impacted by his ‘work’; But Scotty didn’t get ‘up to speed’ on creating misery, til our class convened for Day 1. You can ask Rat Kennedy, or Mike Lugar … we did EVERYTHING twice that had any impact of the cold, or exhaustion, or both, on our heads. Scotty was ruthless. But effective. We were almost always prepared to do all day moves(camera, daylight) that kept us cold seemingly endlessly, and were going to be redone-done-done, and it included photographing some nightmoves, too, but these were more rare, thank God, or Freddy the Frog, one, not sure which sometimes. But it didn’t matter. I would have done them 5 times if I had to, along with the 15 other guys that finished with 65, and provided my scrawney ass held up.

    From the moment I entered the Navy with ‘guaranteed UDT/SEAL’ stamped all over my service jacket, I was not capable of seeing anything else in my mind. I would not let the recruiter get my signature to enter, without the written agreement to at least a chance at BUD/S immediately following RTC (this was at the direction of my Naval Commander father, who flew Corsairs 1943-48, and said ‘get it in writing boy’… i did, and it’s a damn good thing… another tale). My entry was in 1971. My models had been Mike Nelson, and watching the spacecraft recovery teams in action ….real Frogmen, instead of actors. And I suspect there was a certain fear of returning to my home in Houston, Texas, and several uncles and a father of Naval history, not to mention some friends who enlisted (while the rest of the graduates in 1971 were waiting for the lottery to stimulate their service to country), who would have been difficult to ever face again if I returned as a quitter. I grew up in Texas. Those uncles were ranchers and cattle farmers. We didn’t know too many quitters at just about anything. No time for ‘quit’ in the people I grew up around. I met a few ‘betters’… actually quite a few considering my alligator mouth, and parakeete ass ….but few quitters. And BUD/S confirmed a reality for me… if i knew a quitter as a kid, I didn’t remember them. And every 1st Phase instructor reminded me … nobody remembers a loser, or a quitter. True-er words were never uttered.

    At the time I entered, I did not really know what SEALs were, and there was no distinguishing the two, ….Frogs and SEALs, something even we fresh FNGs knew (and something that Janos was instrumental in driving home to the ignorant rest of the world, after transforming himself into Jessie Ventura, masterful from the roughneck biker I knew …whodathunk).

    I wanted to be a Frogman. Period. Gentlemen… I was 117 pounds, after a significant bout (3 months) with mononucleousis, and hepatitis just prior to entering, when I reported for the plane trip to San Diego. By BUD/S Class 65 Day 1, I was perhaps 130, soaking wet …go figger. Hell, Charlie Thornton, and Steve Bailey nicknamed me “Mr. Malnutrition”. So I was by no means the epitome of what my instructors expected to finish training. But they could not make me quit. Especially Jack Kennedy, who f*@#ed with me all 20 weeks… and he was our PROCTOR, and I’m convinced he hated me and wanted me to quit (if not die), badly, like yesterday. I guess he helped solidify my mindset … I don’t give a f*@# how scrawney you think I am, there is a Frog inside, and you’ll never make me quit before he gets out and wears the Trident.

    First assignment, UDT 12, with Charlie Thornton, Steve Bailey, Leo Leonowicz, all from my class, and guys like Jim Janos and his biker pal BaumGartner (sp?), Arte Ruise, Laddy Shaw (SDVs) and platooned with Lt Jim(?) Kleehammer, and none other than, the now Rev Larry Lyons, my Plt 1st class… Our Team CMAA Was Black Mack. Damn fine intro into a cadre of pretty strange, but incredibly fine, and the toughest of men I knew, …operators. No quitters anywhere.

    I was finally… finally home.

    • Todd Kuslikis says

      Gary, this is awesome! Thanks for the detailed comment and story. What a great testament to anyone overcoming odds no matter what the challenge.

      That’s interesting that you had to get it in writing. I bet the Navy wants non-Frogs just as badly as Frogs, so they try to put you some place where you’re forced to stay. That’s great that you had the vision and foresight to be a SEAL before you entered.

      Loved this quote the best: “I was by no means the epitome of what my instructors expected to finish training. But they could not make me quit.”

      Thank you Gary for your service to our country!

      Todd

  7. Amechi says

    This article is great. Exactly the type of thing I was looking for. Thanks! I have read several books by Dick Couch about the SEALs and wondered how they make it through. I don’t know how you got a hold of so many good sources! Well done. On a side note, personally I have corresponded with Stew Smith. Very solid dude. Keep up the good work, Todd.

    • Todd Kuslikis says

      Thanks Amechi. I am really glad you like the article. I’ve read Couch’s “The Warrior Elite“. It was an incredible read.

      In terms of getting a hold of them, it took a ton of digging to find contact information. This was the most time consuming but the gold that came out of it was well worth the effort.

      Have a great one!

      Todd

  8. Shawn says

    I suggest you remove the picture of Jason if you care about how he does at BUD/S. Instructors will not turn down a chance to use any leverage, like an article of this nature, in testing a candidate physically but more important mentally. This is just my two sense, take it or leave it. Leave out his photo and last name.

    Class 274

    • Todd Kuslikis says

      Hi Shawn,

      Thanks so much for the comment. I will go ahead and email Jason to see what he wants to do. I really appreciate you looking out for other members of the SOA community.

      Thanks so much.

      Todd

  9. Matt Queen says

    This is an excellent piece of work! I’ve started training myself a little here and there for the Navy and the SEAL Teams is a challenge I’m willing to take on. Thanks for writing this!

  10. John M Balentyne says

    Steve Robinson have in my hand the BUD/S class 59 graduation roster from Ens Bateman to RMSN work. Knew of a ” Robby” Robinson during training who could do a mean crabwalk. Plus we have another secret about Hell Week that few people know of. So if you are that Robinson, give me a Hooyah. Shout out to all former and current Seals.

    John

    • Steve Robinson says

      Yes, indeed, John… we do have a “secret” of sorts regarding our HELL WEEK. That will remain one that isn’t openly discussed. There were a total of only 10 classes that shared that particular secret! Wish you’d left a point of contact. Been 42 years since I saw you last! Still have a photo of you and Jarmin (I think) at Niland with the snake you killed. Only just discovered your post, brother… and it looks like MONTHS have passed since you found the article and the bit that I contributed.

      That crabwalk (or bear walk) was always easy for me. I used to give my younger brothers and sisters “rides” as I galloped on all fours around our yard at home. The PT grinder at BUD/S was a piece of cake by comparison. I’d gallop off ahead of the whole crowd making their rounds of the grinder, duck into the IBS racks, and grab a quick drink from the hose bib, before galloping back out, and finishing the circuit. Moy would check my t-shirt for tears/rips (all damaged shirts when to the Dive Locker for use around oxygen fittings)… and invariably he would make me perform another circuit since I’d finished so far ahead of others. I ended up with “running callouses” on my hands!

      If you’re on FB then find me at https://www.facebook.com/BlacksmithSEAL

  11. says

    I ddo agree with all of the ideas you have
    presented on your post. They’re really convincing and can certainly
    work. Nonetheless, the posts are too short for beginners.
    May just you please extend them a little from subsequent time?
    Thank you foor the post.

  12. says

    So glad I bought the bundle and then in turn got sent this amazing article. I always seem to need a new wake up call every now and then and this was perfect. I have many people I like to follow to get inspiration from and I’m glad I stumbled on to your awesomeness Todd. I look forward to all the other great stuff that you have but thank you for writing and interviewing for this one.

  13. says

    Today, I went to the beach front with my children. I found a sea
    shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear and screamed.
    There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched
    her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is entirely off
    topic but I had to tell someone!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Most agree that the first phase is the most challenging. It’s made up of 8 weeks of basic conditioning that culminates with the most challenging 5 days you could ever imagine… Hell Week. (A little while back I asked 24 Elite Navy SEALs how they made it through Hell Week. It’s definitely worth a read. Click here to read the article.) [...]

  2. acai

    24 Elite Navy Seals Reveal The Secret To Their Toughness & How They Made It Through Hell Week | Body Weight Exercises & Workouts

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