"The first six people picked them the pies and threw them at the crowd."
  • "The first six people picked them the pies and threw them at the crowd."
  • Story alerts
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it


A girl was called (sometimes you can still hear it in Coronado) a toad. As in "Hey, there were a lot of good lookin' toads at Bully's last Thursday" or "Hey, where's my toad; oh, here you are; come on honey, let's go home." Not all "toads" were real SEAL groupies, but since I had heard a lot about "team girls," I asked. The two lieutenants claimed that only enlisted men had regular team girls.

By Carlos Bey, Apr. 5, 1973 | Read full article

“I’ve heard conversations like, ‘I joined the Navy too late.'"

Tales of Real Men

Johnson claims that the SEALs were not responsible for the majority of fights in Coronado; he, too, saw more SEALs walk away from challenges than accept them. But he won’t deny that the Tradewinds atmosphere was often volatile. “That was pretty well a team bar,” Johnson told me with a half smile. “Just anybody that wasn’t in the team didn’t go in there.” He added that he never saw a fight between two SEALs in the bar.

By R.W. Bell, Jr. April 2, 1981 | Read full article

Night breezes cooled, then tormented us.

Real Seal

The sampan turned in the current to reveal a VC who still gripped the gunwale. The sampan was coming apart beneath that grip, planks splintering under the assault of rounds, the Kohler outboard blasted off the transom by a 40 mike-mike. Still the VC held with what by now was surely a death grip. Our fire found the hand, severed it from the body, which drifted downstream to snag on a root and hold.

By Bill Salisbury, Aug. 2, 1990 | Read full article

Ken Butcher. "I hear his voice sometimes. I mean I’ll get a phone call from someone who sounds like him."

You Know Ken

“There was this fisherman who said he saw four guys in wetsuits come out of the water, and then two days later he saw four bodies being thrown into the water. So we would like to think they made it, ’cause there was a boat smashed up on the beach. We would like to think the four of them got in that boat, made it to shore, got someplace, and were captured.”

By Bill Salisbury, Oct. 4, 1990 | Read full article

After the invasion. Noriega kept his Lear jet in the middle hangar of three hangars.

When SEALs Die

“They had to clear Pier 18 before their own charges went high-order. They returned to dive status and headed for Pier 17; they arrived just as the haversacks exploded and tore out the bottom of the Presidente Parras. As the shock waves pounded them, they clenched their mouthpieces so tightly they almost bit them in half; they jammed their masks hard against their faces, prayed their fins would not be ripped away by the pounding.”

By Bill Salisbury, Oct. 4, 1990 | Read full article

"Sometimes trainees do die, or come close, during their 25-week ordeal."

Goon Squad in Hell Week

“In rock portage, trainees have to haul their rubber boats along the top of the boulders that form the Hotel Del breakwater. When they get to the end of the breakwater, they have to launch into the surf. It's tough enough climbing over those slick boulders without having to haul a 200-pound Boat along. And when those waves build to 10 or 12 feet, crashing right on the rocks, it’s just about impossible to complete the mission.”

By Bill Salisbury, March 12, 1992 | Read full article

Bill Koch. Vanity Fair was the first I'd read about Koch's use of SEALs to spy on America's Cup competitors.

Koch Overboard

Jack told me how a retired SEAL officer and CIA operative had recruited SEAL Team guys for a commando op: to recon the underwater hulls — and especially the keels — of the 75-foot racing sloops that were being prepared in various boat basins and marinas of San Diego Bay for the 1992 America's Cup. "The ops began in July of '91 and continued until the goombahs and Koch squared off for the cup in May of '92," 

By Bill Salisbury, May 4, 1995 | Read full article

Keel of the Stars & Stripes. "This time, Dave took super video of the keel and made all the measurements undetected."

America's Roughest Toughest Meanest Mothers

"On the Meridian Hotel pier — between the Oakwood Apartments and the Coronado bridge, about 300 meters south of the kiwi compound, Raging Bull or me would take a folding chair onto the pier and pretend to read a newspaper. From that pier we had a good look north, right into the kiwi dock area where they put in and took out their boats. In fact, you couldn't see into the area from anywhere else.'

By Bill Salisbury, May 11, 1995 | Read full article

“Yes, we attract alpha males."

Death fated by SEALs

“So they were sitting in the car when Brown [appeared], got into the car in the back seat uninvited, began to fool with Jennifer’s hair, and reached over from the back seat to the front. And she kept taking his hand off her shoulders, as did [Turner], telling him to leave her alone. And the next thing you know, the Brown boy had her around the neck...both arms around her neck!”

By Bill Salisbury, Aug. 3, 1995 | Read full article

More than a month passed before I heard of a death in the BUDS training tower located on the Strand, a short mortar round south of the Del.

Permanent Breath-Hold

The ability to hold one's breath is a badge of honor in the teams. The champ when I came on board was a legendary instructor named Paul McNally. I recall how other trainees and I assembled our first week at the Amphib Base pool to watch in awe as McNally dived to the bottom and remained motionless in 12 feet of water for nearly five minutes. The lesson was clear: this is what a real frogman can do.

By Bill Salisbury, March 13, 1997 | Read full article

Russell says, since the Demi Moore movie G. I. Jane, SEALs have become the glamour unit of the U.S. armed forces.

Sealed Fate

"You've no idea the lengths some of these wannabes will go to. One claimed to have been a SEAL admiral to help him land a top job in a San Diego corporation. There are only five SEALs who have made admiral. We know them all like the backs of our hands. But if the company hadn't checked with us — he was a total fraud — they would have hired him."

By Bill Manson, Nov. 26, 1997 | Read full article

Constance signing at Bay Books. He has been hit with $6 million libel suit by Watson.

The 30-Year War

Lt. "Pete" Peterson, now a retired captain, contradicted six stories in the book in his testimony to the jury. "I did not see Mr. Watson run [away from enemy fire]. I never heard of such a thing happening when I was in Vietnam." He said he never yelled at Watson, "Charlie! STOP! Stop running!" as quoted in the book. He said Watson did not leave Vietnam because he "cracked" but because of a debilitating illness and hospital stay.

  • Story alerts
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it

More from SDReader


Sign in to comment

Win a $25 Gift Card to
The Broken Yolk Cafe

Join our newsletter list

Each newsletter subscription means another chance to win!