Originally Posted by gearhead_318
I always wanted to do one of those, some friends of mine did and they all said it was hell.
Most suck. But this was one of the best deals I ever had in the Navy. Let me paint the picture . . .
I had finished the F/A-18 RAG and was getting ready to join my fleet squadron. But first, I had a few things to finish up, namely SERE. SERE, BTW, RRREEEAAALLLYYY SSSUUUCCCKKKSSS!!!
So, I get back from SERE and check-in as the FNG. The squadron had a slot for this school -- called "TEST" (Tropical Environment Survival Training). Everybody's like "who wants to go to a survival school?" Nobody raises their hand, which leads to "give it to Bluto, he just got back from SERE, he's ready to go!"
So, off I go to Antigua. As it turns out, this was a pseudo-survival school -- it was only there to have some presence in the Southern Caribbean (anyone remember Grenada? Or Ronald Reagan? Now I'm dating myself). Antigua is a beautiful island, a British possession that frequently hosts the royal family. About 12x10 miles, it's home to about 5,000 bars. I think you are starting to get the picture.
It's me, a handful of others in the same boat (FNGs to their respective fleet squadrons -- mostly A-6 and F-14 types -- Grumman fliers who incessantly harassed the lone Hornet guy because they were all jealous) and a bunch of SEALs. The SEALS run SERE and were also the instructors at TEST. In fact, the SEAL that beat and waterboarded confessions out of me with ease at SERE was one of the instructors here. He was MUCH smaller than I remember him being in that dank, cold cell in Maine. He was also a great guy, but you needed to be careful around him -- a small, wiry type who could dispatch you with his bare hands in a couple of seconds without even thinking much about it. Fun guy to drink with.
So what did we do . . . LOL:
One day we powerboated out to Long Island and snorkelled for conchs. We cooked those up over an open fire and ate them with coconut juice and water. Then, it was return to base and off to the bars!
Another day, we took a hike up to Boggy Peak. Along the way we sampled breadfruit, mangos, bananas, guyabas and perfectly clear ground water. At the top, we were treated to a spectacular view of the island. Then, it was return to base and off to the bars! (This is the refrain).
Another memorable outing was to Half Moon Bay. This bay has awesome surf. The objective was to get out into the water with our one-man rafts and then practice surfing them into the beach without drowning. Fun. On this outing, we were already at a bar and the girls in bikinis thought the flyboys with their little rafts were great entertainment (the movie "Top Gun" was pretty recent)!
Ahhh, and the bars. Doing flaming tailhooks and afterburners under thatched roofs. More than one proprietor asked us to "please leave." LOL.
I also recall doing a ship boarding. We were at a bar and got good and liquored up. There was this pretty tourist sailing vessel anchored out in the bay. Hell, it didn't look THAT far. Not sure who suggested it, but we were all thinking it and next thing you know we're in the water swimming for it. It was easily half a mile out, so by the time we get there and board, we're not drunk anymore. And we still have to swim back.
Ahhh, to be young and stupid again!
I have the patch -- "TEST, IBENDERMON!" I'd go back.