“I’m getting hot enough to fuck about that time, and the other SDV guy grabs the radio and tries to figure out how to turn it on. Now here I am with a complete radio suite with everything from covered SATCOM to single sideband. I can talk to anyone anywhere in the world, but I can’t fucking talk to that RIB 20 meters away.
“When the second guy says he don’t know how to turn the thing on either, I send down a Motorola walkie-talkie — the kind you can buy at Radio Shack. Guess what? They can’t even get up on the walkie-talkie. Now it’s just about dark, and I’m going to have to scrub the mission, so I launch ’em without coms.
“I’m not one to hide my feelings, so when they take off without a working radio — or a radio they know how to work — I just go ballistic. I take the Motorola I got and smash it against the bulkhead, saying stuff to the SDV platoon commander like, ‘You motherfucking incompetent fucks! You can’t turn the radio on, the fucking Motorola! What the fuck can you do above water!’ I apologized to him later — he really was a good officer, but, man! Stuff like that just didn’t happen at Six.
“And that wasn’t the end of the pigfuck. EOD gets the mine loaded with C4, but when they crank it off, it’s a hang-fire — doesn’t detonate. I can’t see the mine and ask EOD if he’d marked it with a chemlight. He goes, ‘Gee, I guess not, sir.’ By this time, I don’t have the energy to do anything but shake my head.
“We wait 30 minutes, and when the mine still doesn’t blow, we all settle down and post mine watches — us and the two frigates, whose COs must be thinking, ‘These are the world’s most elite fighters?’ ”
Hey! The fog of war! War is the province of chance!
“Yeah, right. Morning dawns with no mine in sight, so we get underway. Learn later the mine drifted several miles and ended up in Bahrain with the EOD demo still rigged and ready to go.”
You mentioned how well you got along with Colonel Nasser. That didn’t happen very often with U.S. officers and their counterparts in Nam.
“Nasser wasn’t like most slopes I’d known. He was the consummate professional and absolutely fearless. He also listened to me, and we never, but never, had a disagreement we couldn’t work out.”
That’s impressive, given your notorious temper.
“Well, I sure as shit don’t suffer fools, a trait I probably picked up from Marcinko. But Nasser and I got along great, and we enjoyed a mutual trust. I remember one time I got a message from our Navy that the Iraqis were massacring old men, women, and children in Kuwait City. The message said I was not to tell the Kuwaitis.
“I knew Nasser’s family had escaped to Bahrain but that his grandfather, who was a tough old guy and devout Muslim, refused to leave. I figured Nasser had a right to know what was going on in his own country, so I took him the message and said, ‘I want you to read this, because I’m not supposed to tell you, but you need to know this.’
“He read it and tears came to his eyes and he said, ‘I’ll handle this. Thanks a lot.’
“Another time we were putting Kuwaiti marines on these islands because of a dispute with Saudi Arabia. The Saudis claimed the islands were theirs, and the Kuwaitis wanted to occupy them first. We were transporting the marines ashore with our RIBs and covering them with Little Birds when I get this call from Schwarzkopf’s staff saying we were to cease and desist. The State Department said under no circumstances were we to help the Kuwaitis.
“So here I am in the midst of getting the marines ashore, and I am not about to stop. I say, ‘Okay, no problem,’ and just keep on doing what I’m doing. I even had SEALs go ashore and help the Kuwaitis prepare defensive positions and set up generators. Fuck a bunch of REMFs [rear-echelon motherfuckers].
“Nasser really appreciated what we did for him. Like I said, he and I enjoyed a mutual trust. After the four-day war ended, of course he wanted to take the Duck into Kuwait City, and he didn’t want to tell the U.S. Navy because he was afraid they’d deny permission.
“I told him, what the hell, go for it. The place was mined, but we figured damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead! Which was not very fast with the Duck. We made it fine, anchored out, and I sent SEALs ashore in a launch to patrol and make sure we wouldn’t draw fire. No U.S. forces were to be seen. Just Saudis, Iraqis, and Palestinians. Reminded me of Beirut. When the SEALs gave the ‘all clear,’ we started making liberty runs.
“After about three days, I noticed Nasser hadn’t left the ship. I asked him what was up, and he said he didn’t want to go in because he was afraid he’d find out his grandfather was dead. I said, ‘Fuck that, let’s go in. You told me your grandfather was a tough old guy. He’s okay.’
“Nasser agreed, and in we went. We commandeered an old Chevy Impala near the pier and took off. After a few blocks, we run into a Saudi roadblock. Now we’re wearing our robes and are not in uniform. A Saudi sticks his rifle into the car and starts jabbering to Nasser, who starts jabbering back. Suddenly the Saudi brings the rifle up to his shoulder, and Nasser floors the Impala. We’re zigzagging down the street with rounds popping all around us and a few hitting the car. I’m thinking, ‘Oh, Christ! We’re all gonna die! What a way to go.’ Then Nasser yanks the Impala around a corner and we’re clear.