DF: To become a Navy SEAL or SWCC you must first learn to be a sailor. This essential process starts at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Illinois. First utilized in 1911 and home to the United States Navy Boot Camp. This, is where it all starts.
“you have to pay attention to detail and you have to give it your maximum effort”
DF: Welcome to The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday, the official Navy SEAL podcast.
Every aspect of a Navy recruit’s life is scheduled, categorized, and inspected. There are rules and standards for how the toilet paper, toothbrushes, and T-shirts are stored to how they eat, dress, walk, and speak. I'm Daniel Fletcher. Over the next few episodes you’ll hear from a select group of people responsible for onboarding NSW candidates into the Navy. Today I speak with Chief Petty Officer William Roberts, one of the Recruit Division Commanders conducting this eight-week orientation.
DF: This podcast is meant specifically for people in the SEAL/SWCC pipeline. For a minute, if you could talk a little bit about how those candidates are treated or the process. Maybe, is it different than people that are off the street joining the “Big Navy?”
WR: As an RDC, which is a short term for Recruit Division Commander, we’re just responsible for how ever many recruits come in. It doesn’t matter if it’s 105 recruits, 60-something recruits. We’re just responsible for their day-to-day care and their day-to-day wellbeing from the time they arrive to the date of departure. We take care of when they eat, when they sleep, what training they need, where they have to go, when they have to be there, how they fold their clothes. We train all of that from beginning to end, from day of arrival to date of departure. For anyone that’s in what we call 800 Divisions, which are your SEALs and SWCC recruits or candidates, boot camp is not any different for them than it is for anybody else. There’s a few other requirements in regards to what we call Dive Motivation PT that they have to participate in on a daily basis Monday through Friday. Outside of that, the only difference here is that there is an expectation that they are going to be better than those that are coming in for “Big Navy,” just “Regular Navy” as we call it. There’s an expectation that they’re going to perform a whole lot better than those recruits, so there’s, for lack of better terms, a bull’s eye on their back. Everybody’s gunning for them; all the other RDCs are gunning for them. Staff, not necessarily gunning for them, but every simple mistake they make, it’s highlighted because they’re what’s called an 800 Recruit.
DF: So the 800 Recruits coming in here, they have a higher expectation of themselves as well and that they’re going to be held to a higher standard later on through their employment with the Navy.
WR: Definitely. The idea is that they come here, they know why they’re here as far as being in the Navy. The Regular “Nav” is more, “I didn’t have a choice. There was nothing else left for me to do. I don’t know what I want to do, so this is just the option for me to try right now.” Whereas in SEALs and SWCCs, they kind of know they’re signing up to put their lives on the line. They...know... that’s what they’re going to do barring that they make it through the training pipeline.
DF: Right. Right. Yeah, I think a lot of people think that if you want to become a SEAL, you go to Coronado, you go to BUD/S, and you become a SEAL, and they kind of skip over the process of basic training or Navy recruitment process. Probably do a lot of reading about Navy SEALs and the BUD/S training and all the stuff that they’re going to have to do and Hell Week and the whole 9 yards. When they’re joining the Navy, there’s a lot of rules and regulations and discipline that needs to come first before holding logs over your head. I think that’s an important distinction.
WR: Definitely. Recruits that come in for that program need to know that they’re in the Navy first. The way that I tell my recruits that I’ve had so far is that not every sailor is EOD or SWCC or SEAL, but every SEAL or SWCC driver is a Sailor. So, they have to know that that’s what they’re in here to do. They’re here to be Sailors. Being a SEAL or SWCC is just the job that they have while they’re in the Navy; no different from myself as an Aviation Electronics Technician or anybody else that has a particular job in the Navy. We train them to the best of our abilities to be Sailors.
DF: What do you think a new recruit needs to know before they get here or maybe any expectations you think that aren’t obvious?
WR: They need to know that they’re going to be held to a standard right away; that the standard for their PT sessions and Dive Motivation PT is different from what the standard is to be in the compartment. They need to know that coming here, being a SEAL by nature of what they chose to do, they are a leader. A lot of recruits that we get in nowadays want to come in and be what’s called Gray Men. They just want to get through boot camp and keep their heads down.
DF: You said Gray Man?
WR: Gray Man.
DF: Explain that a little bit more for me.
WR: They just...They want to be nobody in the division. So, in the division, we have Divisional Staff, and a lot of times, they’ll talk to people that have been through boot camp before, and those people are letting them know if, like, your RDCs don’t know your name, you’re doing a good job, and that’s not necessarily the case. For me personally, as an RDC, I make it a point to know every last one of my recruits, whether they’re doing good or whether they’re doing bad, or if they’re just that person that’s kind of in the middle; I get to know all of my recruits. So, every division needs leadership. It can’t come from the RDCs all the time, and we miss out on a lot of good leaders because they’ve been told to just be a gray man and kind of put their heads down, and I guess, blend in to everybody else. Don’t stand out.
DF: Because they think it’ll be easier?
WR: I believe so. I mean it doesn’t make it easier for them. It might make it easier for them as an individual, but it makes it harder for the division because they might be the one leader that the division needs, and if they don’t step up and take that position, then it just makes it harder for the division, which in turn makes it harder for them because if the division is suffering, everybody is suffering.
DF: That’s something that I’ve found through a lot of the people I’ve interviewed that leadership is important, and teamwork is important, even almost the most important, (WR: Definitely.) and encouraging people coming into the recruitment process to take leadership positions and really embrace that mentality, not try to kind of just slide through under the radar and get it done, but step up and be a leader because they need to stand above other people, and they need to take those leadership roles. So, I think that’s a good nugget to take away, is to not try to just skim by but step up, you know what I mean? Make an impression and help the people around you because that’s another thing I think is a little bit of a misunderstanding with a lot of the SOF guys, is that they’re stars; they’re all stars, but more than that, they’re teammates, and I think that’s an important distinction. (WR: Yes.)
DF: We took a little tour of the facility here, The Ship you call it, which is actually almost like a barracks. We walked through... some of the people that just got here...they’re kind of learning really fundamentals and then up to where you’re working with people that have been here for a few more weeks. It’s almost shocking to come in off the street from a hotel into this environment where it’s different than being out on the street. Maybe if you could walk us through your typical day, what your schedule is like on an average day or maybe what you did even today just to paint a picture for the people listening what daily life is like when they’re here.
WR: On a day-to-day basis, you’re looking at 04:30 wake up time, getting the house on spot and being ready to go by 04:45, being down on what we call the Grinder, formed up in mass formation by 04:50, and then we’re going to march to our Dive Motivation PT, which is a good mile, maybe a quarter mile away. And then you’re going to form up there, get dressed, get changed out for what you need to do, and you’re going to do whatever the Dive Motivators have in store for you as far as PT is concerned that day. After they release you, RDCs will pick you up, you mass back up, you march back, you eat breakfast. You are required to have at least one hygiene period a day. So you might hygiene early in the morning right after PT, but if you get in trouble, and you need to be disciplined, you might do something that causes you to sweat, but you’re not required to...be allowed to take another shower. That’s up to the discretion of the RDCs. I could tell you that there’s been times where I put my recruits to sleep sweaty to teach them a lesson. It just depends on the RDC, of course. You eat chow three times a day, and then after that, based on what the training is, you will go into evening routine. Evening routine is just the time to kind of decompress the day and relax and get prepared for the next day.
DF: What time is that starting usually?
WR: 20:30 is evening routine, and then at 21:30, you have Taps, which is lights out, and everybody goes to sleep. Most recruits are up at like three in the morning because they want to make it to Dive Motivation PT on time. They have to make sure house is on spot, and it normally takes them a good hour to make sure the house is on spot, so they’re getting up early and getting everything ready to go. I train my recruits. “When I turn these lights on, you will be ready to go.” All I have to do is inspect so we can leave. And if it’s not done, then you’ll be late to Dive Motivation PT, and if you’re late to Dive Motivation PT, they will handle you accordingly over there.
DF: So, not a lot of free time.
WR: The only free time is maybe evening routine, and there is free time on Sundays, but that starts at a certain time. You have what’s called Holiday Routine, which is 07:00 to 13:00 on Sundays, and then you can go to the chapel if you’re a religious person or spiritual person, you go to the chapel; you can write your letters home to your families, shine your boots; get your uniforms ready to go for the week. Everything you do is about preparing for the next day. I always train my recruits, and, again, I want to be very clear that every RDC is different. Every RDC has their own way of doing business within a framework of our regulations. But I always train my recruits, “Make sure you do something today to make tomorrow easier for you.” So we’re always going to prepare for the next day the day prior.
DF: Obviously the people that are coming in, these potential NSW recruits, are already in great shape. They’ve been working out with boat crews probably for quite a while. And they’re continuing to exercise while they’re here. Do you find that there’s any drop in fitness level, or are they getting in better shape while they’re here, or what’s your impression on that?
WR: I think it just depends on how things go. I’ve never had a problem with a recruit during PT. One of my divisions was all SO, all SEAL Operator candidates, and every last one of them passed their PST on the very first time, minus one; he miscounted the laps, but other than that, they passed their PFA, which is something that has to be done in order to get out of boot camp. The PST is something for the SEAL Operator side or the SWCC side. We have to do a PFA.
DF: Can you talk a little about what the PFA is and what it’s for and what it entails?
WR: So, the PFA is what’s called our Physical Fitness Assessment. That’s the Big Navy physical fitness test. Everyone in the Navy, no matter what you do, is required to take this test.
DF: Is that done after you’ve been here or right when you get here? When is that done?
WR: There’s an initial PFA, which is done maybe three or four days after you arrive, and then you have what’s called an RDC Assessment. A RDC Assessment PFA is in the middle of boot camp, and that’s kind of to assess how the RDCs are doing to catch up the recruits that might have struggled during the baseline PFA. That’s normally not a problem with SO and SWCC candidates. And then you have the Official PFA. Now, the Official PFA has to be passed in order for you to graduate boot camp. So, you have to pass that in order to graduate boot camp, minus some other things that you must have, but in regards to physical activity, you have to pass that in order to graduate boot camp.
DF: And what are the details of that test?
WR: The PFA just requires you to do, based on your age, a certain amount of push-ups, a certain amount of sit-ups, and a mile and a half run in a certain amount of time.
DF: So, that’s something, for the guys who’ve been training for NSW, should not be an issue.
WR: Not a problem at all.
DF: So, is that something that’s ranked, or is a pass/fail thing?
WR: It’s a pass/fail, pass/fail.
DF: I know there is some concern that the fitness levels of these guys may drop while they’re here because they’ve been working it hard to try to really maximize their physical strength and their endurance. Are there facilities here for them to squeeze in an extra workout?
WR: There are no other facilities here that they can use while they’re in what’s called a Recruit Status, or here at boot camp. However, our 800 Recruits do have pull-up bars and leg lift systems so to speak within the compartments. So, when we’re not doing Active Training, when it’s Evening Routine, and it’s kind of their time, that’s when they can do their extra pull-ups if they want. That’s when they can do their extra leg lifts if they want. They can do their push-ups; they can do sit-ups; they can do whatever they choose to do physically during their Evening Routine time or any time that the RDCs are not actively training them. So if they struggle with push-ups, or they want to get more push-ups in, they definitely have the time to do that. I’m not an advocate of recruits being out of their racks after Taps. However, I do know that recruits don’t just go to sleep when we turn those lights out. So if they want to do some push-ups and different things like that as well, they can do that. That’s not necessarily the right thing to do, but they do have that time to do that.
DF: We talk a lot about the physical requirements, and that’s something that’s pretty well known in the public even, but what other specific expectations do you think that recruits should have in mind?
WR: So the one thing that recruits should expect to get here is to be told how to do everything, and that everything has a purpose. You’re going to be held accountable for everything, from the way you fold your underwear, which we call skivvies, the way you fold your T-shirts, the way you fold your uniforms, where you put things, where you stow things, how your mattress or your blanket is folded, the way your sheets are made, the way your bunk is made. All of those things are checked every single day, and to be prepared, number one, to be taught how to do that, but to have the attention to detail. I think a lot of times with SEAL and SWCC, they come in so focused on getting to the next phase of the pipeline that they don’t have the attention to detail necessary that they need to be successful here, and you have to get through this process in order to get to the next process. Outside of that, and I’ve noticed that even with the recruits in general, not just SEAL Operators but just recruits in general, a lot of them come in and have never been told that they’re wrong or never been told that they made a mistake, and that that mistake is not acceptable. So that’s normally the biggest problem we have with recruits, is telling them that they’re wrong and getting them to accept the fact that they’re wrong, and they have to adjust their mindset and their attitude to move forward.
DF: It seems that that’s a big takeaway, kind of maybe humbling yourself and not getting ahead of yourself. It might seem like basic stuff, but it’s foundational, and it’s the next step, and take it seriously. Slow down, listen to people. Do you think that life is hard here for recruits?
WR: At the beginning, very much so. At the beginning its very…
DF: Define what you... When you say “beginning,” what do you mean by that?
WR: When they first get here, boot camp is very difficult because there’s somebody immediately in your face telling you that you’re wrong. Again, have an open mind to the fact that everybody’s different. Everybody is going to lead you differently. Everybody’s going to talk to you differently. Me personally, I don’t yell at my recruits at first cause I know they don’t know. But then I train them, and once I’ve trained you, and I know you know it, now I can start yelling if I choose to do so or start disciplining you if I choose to do so about you not reaching what we call here Checkpoints. Everything that we do is a Checkpoint. Do it the way we told you to do it, but it takes a person to buy in to “it matters how I fold my T-shirt”. “It matters that my keys should be tucked into my T-shirt.” “It matters that I lock my AMB drawer,” which is the personal drawer that recruits have here that they can put their letters from home and address books and different things like that in there, their wallets that they come up with, but those drawers have to be locked at all times that they’re not actively in it, but you have to believe that that stuff matters. And as soon as you believe that it matters, boot camp is easy because now you’ll take care of it. If you don’t think it matters and you won’t take care of it, and then you’re being held accountable or singled out or yelled at or whatever the case may be on a routine basis.
DF: It strikes me, the parallels, with some of the basic stuff that the recruits are learning here with a lot of regular life stuff. You might not think that school is important when you’re in school learning algebra or whatever, but it’s learning how to learn, learning how to live, learning how to discipline yourself; attention to detail; it’s the things that, the kind of between the lines stuff that you’re really learning in this process that maybe people gloss over cause they just want to play with guns. When the 800 guys are on The Ship here, is there any way to tell them from the other recruits, or is it something just really only staff knows?
WR: When they’re in uniform, you probably only going to know if you’re staff. Most of the 800 Recruits, especially those that are really prepared, you can look at them and tell, “Okay, that’s 800 Recruit, just based on their physical attributes and the way they look.” We have a thing about 800 Recruits, 800 Recruits will not stop talking even though they’re supposed to stop talking… they’re chatty. They’re very chatty for whatever reason. I don’t know what that is, but, so you can tell them by that and just their physical attributes.
DF: You mean amongst themselves or talking back to you?
WR: No, amongst themselves. Amongst themselves, they’re very chatty. And then also too trying to get them to separate their relationship because in Special Warfare, there’s a lot of first name basis and really a lot of camaraderie and buddy-buddy regardless of pay grade because “we’re all Special Forces.” It’s not like that here, so we have to make sure you’re not going to call me by my last name like we’ve been growing up together. You’re not going to thumbs up me; you’re not going to high-five me or anything like that. You’re going do it the way I told you to do it, and then when you graduate, then we can talk about the rest of the stuff after that, so that’s one of the things as well, but normally just their physical attributes.
DF: Sometimes a recruit may drop out of this process. What are some of the common issues that you see that are causing that to happen in this part of the pipeline process?
WR: Most of the time the recruit drops out, it’s something in their medical background. I’ve had some recruits get very homesick. Some recruits just can’t adapt to what we do here because they have a mindset coming in that all they’re going to do is work out and go eat, and that’s not what we do. We turn civilians into Sailors. That’s what we do, and the rest of it is up to them how they succeed in the pipeline for SEALs or SWCC. Maybe some physical injuries that might happen while they’re in boot camp, maybe they twist an ankle, or hearing’s messed up, or maybe their vision is messed up. And it’s tested here because no matter what they say out before they get here, if the doctors here say there’s something wrong, then that’s what we’re going to have to go with.
DF: Are they more strict here you think, the Medical?
WR: I’m not really sure. I never really get into it. We typically just kind of take care of that and just make sure the recruit is taken care of one way or another; try to build them up cause a lot of them are very disappointed when they find out that they can’t do what they joined up to do. Just try to build them up and let them know they can still have an impact in the Fleet without being a SEAL or SWCC.
DF: Are there different medical standards for different tracks through NSW, like if you want to be EOD versus SEAL, or is the standards the same, do you know?
WR: There are certain standards changes with vision. There are certain standards changes with hearing. There are different standards for SEAL Operators and SWCC versus EOD in regards to PT for the PST. There’s different standards for that, but on the medical side, I’m not sure if there’s that many differences.
DF: Your position is really key in that cultural shift between civilian life and Sailor life. A lot of the time spent before getting here is spent on physical preparation with mentors and Boat Teams or Boat Crews. Talk a little bit about what’s needed to effectively transition from a civilian life into becoming a Sailor.
WR: Well, the most important thing is just having the right mentality, having the right attitude, being positive about what you’re getting ready to go through and understanding that you put in a lot of sacrifice to get to this point and don’t risk it over the fact that you don’t like that someone told you were incorrect, or someone’s trying to tell you a certain way to do something that you don’t necessarily agree with. Again, everything that we do has a reason and has a purpose. Even myself personally, I’ve been in 19 years, and I still fold my T-shirts the way I learned how to fold it in boot camp, which is still the same way we do it today here now that I’m training recruits. So the mental aspect is probably the biggest portion of it, just having an open mind to what you’re getting ready to get into. There are things that are going to be thrown at you. I like to tell my recruits, it’s like drinking out of a fire hydrant because we’re constantly giving it to you, and we only have eight weeks. If there’s anything you can get from your recruiters, I think they give you something that has your general orders in it, maybe something that has the Sailor’s Creed in it. Memorize those things before you get here. It’s only going to help your time here at boot camp be that much more successful because if you already know that, then that’s other time that you can spend learning something else that you might struggle with because immediately, we’re going to get right in day one, we’re going to start grilling you on that because we know that recruiters gave you that information. So, we’re going to start grilling you on it right away.
DF: What part of that process do you think a lot of the 800 candidates trip up in, thinking that they know everything or…?
WR: Candidates slip in that process because they don’t think it matters. My all SO Division, it wasn’t until maybe week three that I had to kind of get them in the right mentality of why we do it the way we do it; why it’s important for you to be a leader; why it’s important for you to know the things that you want to do. And by the time we got to the end, they were very grateful and thankful for the information that we gave them. All they’re thinking about is the physical aspect and just getting to pre-BUD/S and BUD/S. To them a lot of times, boot camp is just a red tape portion that they have to get through, and it’s so much more than that.
DF: We touched on something before we were recording that I think is important to bring up. When these guys walk in the doors here, the people that they’re interfacing with, like yourself or whomever, they’re not all Special Forces guys. They’re not all SEALs. This isn’t a retired SEAL community here that people are coming to learn from guys that have been through it. I think that probably affects the mentality, and it’s important, I think, to speak to that a little bit. That humbling yourself is really important. You know better than anybody that’s here, and you’re not going to be. We’re all a team. Do you think that has anything to do with it?
WR: I think there’s some separation because SEALs are an Elite Force. And everybody knows that whether you’re in the Navy, outside of the Navy, everybody knows that the SEALs are the top of the line when it comes to Special Forces, and there is some separation. There’s some pride in that, and there should be, but also understanding that for SEALs, a lot of the things that they do, Regular Navy is involved in it as far as getting them to where they need to go and supporting them, whether it’s air support or on ground support, whatever the case may be, so understanding that in the team, everybody has a vital part whether you have a trident on your chest, or myself, I’m Air Warfare, you have all these different type of entities that are involved in the mission. And so I do think that some of that is they let the pride of being a SEAL kind of get in the way of understanding that.
DF: Even though they’re not even there yet.
WR: Exactly... Some of them come in with a mindset of, “I’m a SEAL,” and they need to understand you are not a SEAL. You’re not even a Sailor yet until you actually graduate boot camp. And even at that rate, you’re still not a SEAL until you go through the rest of the pipeline and do all the things that that entails.
DF: One of my big impressions from dealing with Active Operators is the strength of character and professionalism that they have, and it seems like that this is the place where a lot of that is really built.
WR: Yes. We’re going to instill in them military bearing. We’re going to instill in them professionalism and all those things that come along with it; the ability to turn it on and turn it off. I tell my recruits there are certain times where you need to be a robot, and there are certain times where you can kind of be yourself, and we can relax. But when it’s time to turn it on, you need to be able to turn it on, and if you can’t do that, then we’re going to have it on at all times and just be a miserable time here, or we can, you know, kind of enjoy and make the most out of the process.
DF: Right. There’s a lot in the media about Hell Week, BUD/S, the strongest, the most elite physical specimens that are going to be the ones who get through this process. If you listen to other episodes, you know that it’s 70, 80% mental. What a lot of people gloss over is that the stuff that they’re learning here, they’re going to have to do it at BUD/S. They’re going to have to keep their stuff squared away. It’s not all just going to be push-ups and sand. They need to do the things that they’re learning here. It’s not like this is just throwaway knowledge. Is that correct?
WR: It’s absolutely correct. Everything we train them, they’re going to use at some point in time. If they wind up on a ship, the way we fold our T-shirts saves them room. So now rather than having two T-shirts, you’re going to have five or six T-shirts with you. Everything that we do serves a purpose, and that’s the one thing that recruits coming in should really focus in on. The mentality of accepting what we’re teaching them and knowing that they can use it not only in the compartments with their main RDCs, but they can also transition that into their Dive Motivator PTs. They can transition that into their pre-BUD/S, they can transition that into BUD/S to at least alleviate one problem that might come up while they’re in their training, or they can just focus on the physical because they know they’ve been trained by their RDCs. Of course, there’s going to be some differences in standards. There’s going to be other things that are going to be required as they move further along in training, but at least here, they know, “I was trained to put this item folded this way, put it in this spot, and that’s the only place it goes.” And if they can get that down here, then the rest of it should be easier for the most part at least transitioning to whatever they’re being told to do at their next phase of training.
DF: I think that’s really important. If you can’t prove to be trusted with handling your T-shirts, how are you going to expect to be trusted with thousands of dollars worth of weapons systems, night vision goggles, fill in the blank? You know? I think that’s important to understand.
WR: We train them that everybody’s dependent on everybody. I have a family at home, and I always tell my recruits, “My family’s dependent on you when you graduate from boot camp to save my life if it comes down to it.” Whether you’re Special Programs, whether we’re on the Fleet together because you didn’t make it for whatever reason, my family is dependent upon on you. Your family, is why you’re here, are dependent upon me or whoever your RDCs are to make sure that you’re taken care of, to make sure that you’re healthy, to make sure that you’re being cared for. Treat it with respect, all those different things that any parent would want for their child, we’re kind of helping each other. We’re going to do what we have to do for you, but in return, you have to pay it back. And what you can do in the pool and what you can do on the track is not paying your RDCs back for the time that they spent. You have to prove to us that we can trust you. ‘Cause if I can’t trust you here at boot camp, how can I, in my right mind, pass you through to get to the Fleet and handle more important things, whether it’s SEAL or Regular Navy.
DF: We talked a little bit about people dropping out of this process, whether it’s, you know, being homesick or injury. Is there anything else somebody can do to get themselves kicked out of here? I’m sure there is. What kind of stuff do you see that’s typical that you want to steer people clear of?
WR: There’s a lot of things we have what’s called here a CO’s Top Six: sexual harassment, no recruit-to-recruit contact. A lot of times, the, especially with SEALs, they come in, and they kind of know everybody that’s there for the most part cause they were together at some point in time, and they want to high five, and they want to give daps or bro hugs or whatever the case may be, and that’s not tolerated here. You can’t do that. No sexual harassment obviously. You can’t abuse any drugs, and that can be as simple as a cough drop. If you go to medical and get a cough drop prescribed to you that has your name on it, you cannot give it to anybody else. That’s abusing drugs in the eyes of our Chain of Command, so you can be sent home for that. A lot of people make the mistake of trying to have that last little party before they get here, and then urinalysis comes up, and they pop for something on urinalysis, and they’re automatically kicked out cause it’s zero tolerance for drug use. Not passing that final PFA that we talked about earlier. Normally not a problem with SOs, but, again, if they miscount, it doesn’t matter how fast they ran it in; if they said they did 12, but they only did 11; you’re supposed to do 12. They just failed it. You get two times to do that, of course. They normally don’t make the same mistake twice, but not failing the PFA. And we have what’s called Battle Stations, which is our pinnacle training evolution, and you can fail that. I can’t really go into details about a station. You’ll learn about that as you come through boot camp, but if you fail that, you will be set back automatically two weeks in training, and Battle Stations is normally a week or the week of your graduation, so…
DF: Yeah, people think they might be over the hump.
WR: People are getting, they either think they’re over the hump, but also I…I always try to bring it back to the recruits’ family. Your families have already bought your tickets. Some of them are probably already on the way, now you have to make that phone call and tell them that they can’t see you, and they just wasted a trip. Or they have to rearrange their lives and get rescheduled for time off for different things like that depending on their, you know, their jobs or whatever it may be. But there’s a lot of rearranging that goes down, too, and if they just get down to the attention to detail portions that we talked about earlier, Battle Stations will be a breeze. It’s just about paying attention and locking in to finishing the goal, which is getting out of boot camp.
DF: So, if you if you were to talk to somebody, let’s say, I’m joining the Navy, and I want to be a Navy SEAL, what part of this process that you’re involved in would you highlight and say, “Make sure you do this”?
WR: Listen, humble yourself and listen. Even if you think it’s wrong, listen. Follow the instructions that are given, and allow the people that are in charge to do what they do. If they’re wrong, let them come back to you and tell you they’re wrong. If you find something that’s needs to be corrected, there’s a way to do it. There’s a tactful way to do it. Just embrace everything that’s going on, learn from it, know that you didn’t come here to make friends. You will, but you didn’t come here to make friends. The thing I tell my division the most is, “Let your light shine. If you’re a great person, you have the means to be able to pull somebody up, then let your light shine. Don’t try to hide your light because you don’t want to be called out, or you don’t want to be put in front of the camera so to speak. Just be who you are, and be the best that you can be.”
DF: What are you passionate about? What gets you up in the morning?
WR: I’m passionate about my job. I feel like as an RDC, and, again, I have to say this cause not everyone is the same, and there’s no guarantee that somebody coming in now is going to have me as an RDC, but I feel like I’m bigger than my title. I’m bigger than an RDC. I’m…to some of these recruits, I’m a father, a brother that they never had, a mentor they never had or something like that, so I’ll always keep in mind the fact that me being an RDC gives me an opportunity to change the world because if I can just touch one person, then I did my job.
DF: Appreciate you taking the time to sit down with us.
WR: No problem. Thank you for having me.