Hell Week

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I can't feel my legs.

It's been at least ten minutes and there is no indication on the instructors faces that this torture would end anytime soon. The icy water laps around me and the other men of Class 245 as another wave rolls in. The water must be at least 55 degrees but I can't tell anymore, hence the numb legs.

I could give up, walk right out of this frigid water and back to base but I won't. I made it the first two weeks and after hell week it should be smoother sailing, at least I hope. Hell Week is compared to Satan's lovely home because it's a torturous five days of non stop drills that test our boundaries and separate the strong from the weak. It's sure doing a mighty fine job at that. "You cold yet boys?" Instructor Jefferson's voice abruptly pulls me back into my current frigid reality. "No sir!" We try to say it in all together but half of us cannot get the words off of our trembling tongues.

"I didn't hear you!" he hollers again, his voice resonating above the crashing waves.

"NO SIR!" My teeth are chattering so hard it's like they are going to crack in half.

My body is so numb I actually feel warm. It's a nice feeling, pleasant almost, like I could fall asleep. I'm no doctor but that can't be a good sign. All twenty-two of us are slowly freezing, which is just perfect.

"Okay men, time to get out." Says one of our instructors after which we instinctively respond with "Hooyah!"

Never in my twenty years of life have I heard more beautiful words. I jump, well jump is really pushing it. I slowly crawl my way back to my feet which are struggling to support my weight. But hey! At least we are out of the water.

"No lollygagging. I'll give you ten seconds to get from the beach to the top of the hill. If any one of you is a second past the time limit you are all going to do fifty rocking chairs!" I shutter at the thought of doing rocking chairs. They are like burpees on steroids.

"GO!" Instructor Jefferson shouts. It takes all my remaining strength to move my legs over the damp sand to the edge of the hill. The incline isn't drastic but it sure as hell isn't easy. My legs are burning from being in icy Northern Californian water for so long.

The last bit of sun is going down below the horizon, turning the Autumn sky a dark pink as I make my way up the hill. The sand turns to grass and seconds seem to stretch on for minutes. I look around to see I'm in the middle of the group. No way will I be that poor soul who causes us to do those rocking chairs, not matter how exhausted I am.

My feet finally hit the top of the hill and I almost collapse with relief.

"7.5 seconds, Brecker." Instructor Montgomery says and I breath a sigh of relief.

The last person up made it in 9.2 seconds and I say a silent prayer thanking whoever is listening that we won't be doing those damned rocking chairs.

"Good job men. Now head to the tents, change and go to the mess hall. You have 45 minutes." Instructor Montgomery, the second in command, says before turning his dark head toward the mess hall.

"Hooyah!" We scream before going to the the canvas tents that we are living in this week.

Class 245 started with eighty candidates and less than three weeks into this six month course it has been reduced to twenty-two men. We will most likely lose another five men from pressure and maybe two from injury. Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training is not supposed to be easy. This job we aspire to do is hard, it's literally life and death so if someone can't handle a little cold and pain then it's their life on the line in war.

Stripping off my damp clothes is the best feeling in the world besides those damn good massages my girlfriend Kelly gives me. We get time off now and then during these six months to see friends and family but not much.

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