I was part of an elite group of Navy SEALS operating in Italy. Our task was to sow confusion in the enemy by demolishing a bridge on a nearby island in the Mediterranean Sea. I was late to the mission briefing and missed all but the end when our commander, Owen Wilson, was assigning code names to all the SEALS in the team as he pointed to each of us.
“Red. You are Bump.You, Tony, will be nicknamed God.” Tony Reali seemed pleased with his. “And I’ll be code named Commander.” I thought that was a bit lacking in creativity. He didn’t give me a code name, and I was pretty disappointed. I guess I should have been on time.
Commander gave me the run down of the mission as we walked down a cobblestone boat ramp that lead into the sea across from the island with our target bridge. A small submersible would be used to tow us underwater in our SCUBA gear. We jumped in and got in position. I was clinging to the left side of the vehicle. Commander told me to man the sonar readouts so I could alert him to any obstacles in our way in the dark water. As he started the propeller and we got underway, I realized I had no clue where the sonar display even was.
The submersible picked up speed and we were soon zooming along the seabed at ludicrous speed. I could barely hang on. We neared the island and slowed to enter an underwater concrete tunnel. It looked like someone’s submerged living room. Couches, bookshelves and lamps lined the walls. As we rounded a corner in the tunnel we smashed straight into a chain link fence with flood lights attached to the top. I had failed in my sonar duties.
The squad was frustrated at the delay and put the submersible down to replace the broken light bulbs on the floodlights. Everyone removed their SCUBA gear to allow for better freedom of movement. The repairs were soon finished, but nobody put their gear back on. We were all too busy showing each other how long we could hold our breaths. I couldn’t hold mine any longer and started breathing normally even without the aid of an oxygen tank.
I didn’t want anybody to see I couldn’t hold my breath very long, so I covered my mouth with a blanket and tried to hide my breathing.