Even When Deep Diving, U.S. Special Forces Never Turn Down a Challenge

November 2, 2023 Topic: SOCOM Region: Americas Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: SOCOMSpecial ForcesDivingNavyMilitary

Even When Deep Diving, U.S. Special Forces Never Turn Down a Challenge

Military branches have a few traditions that are honored and exercised by their members – among them is the coin challenge.


My time as an instructor at the highly-regarded Combat Diver School in Key West, Florida never allowed for a single dull moment. During my time there, the manning roster allowed for one U.S. Army Ranger graduate of the academy, and three U.S. Navy SEALS – one lieutenant and two chief petty officers. The phenomenon of b*ll-breaking between the two branches was ever present and reared its head at all opportunities.

Military branches have a few traditions that are honored and exercised by their members – among them is the coin challenge. Each service member carries a coin representing his unit; the coin challenge calls for a service member to suddenly present his coin to his peers if asked, at which point his peers have to produce theirs. If someone fails to produce their coin, he must treat those who successfully produced theirs to a beer. Simple: if I show you my coin and you fail to show yours, you owe me a beer. Coin Challenge in full effect!!


In the Unit, this is by far the most popular tradition and we carry our coins with great pride and affection.

The Unit coin was typically the diameter of the Seiko G-shock watch, a device very popular among combat divers and a basic issue to the men of the Delta Force. It was proper etiquette to carry our coin between the watch’s band and face. Even sporting full naked-idity, most men had their watches on and therefore their coins at ready. It was even old hat to pull a coin check while in free-fall parachute operations. The men expected it to happen, so nobody failed to produce his coin.

Our SEALs at the Combat Diver School, Big Joe C. and John Paul (no kidding) Jones, were the first ones to introduce us to the coin check on our mandatory deep dives at 130 feet. On our first deep dive with Big, Big, (really big) Joe, he pulled out his coin at 130 feet and showed it to everyone; everyone showed him theirs, and there were no penalties to be paid.

On our next deep dive, John Paul Jones joined us while Big Joe remained at topside aboard our tender vessel. We entered the water and rallied around the dive buoy with a 130′ weighted rope tied off to it. We had to descend to 130’ and remain there for 10 minutes before ascending back to the surface.

“Have a good dive, ye there scurvy bilge rats!” shouted Big Joe from his coxswain’s position on the tender. “Beware ye of John Paul, as he has a strange registration at the high-pressure depth of 130’ – it is a strange and unexpected one, oh ye salty dogs!”

We wondered what Big Joe meant; we would just have to wait and see.

It took us approximately 135 seconds to descend to the 130’ depth, and there we huddled at the end of our rope (a-ha). John Paul promptly produced his precious coin; we all answered him back. There would be no beer penalties paid… other than by JPJ.

And then it happened.

(John Paul later attributed his behavior to the excess pressure on the body at deep depth.) He pulled back his dive shorts’ legs up high and over to one side, exposing his disgusting anus, and produced, much to all our chagrin, a formidable poop! Nary a single eyebrow among us remained unfurled.

From bow to stern she was a sea-worthy craft, aye. A full inch draft she touted, a full eight inches from bow to stern, and displacement all of a full pound of seawater – beware ye, mates! With no onboard system of propulsion, she kept speed with us in the incidental tidal current. The length of her stern boasted near a half cubit, and her breadth swelled abeam.

Oh monstrous, monstrous was the countenance that we bore.

“Who shall save us,” we pondered. “It should be captured and secured to the poop deck of our topside tender vessel!”

With that, the submersed demon drove in toward a diver’s mask in a tease of variable speed. The diver promptly and in all reflex batted it away that it might be the plight of yet another diver. The poop cruised first then dashed at flank speed at yet another stupefied diver who also lashed out at the fiend.

Related: Tangiers: A Delta man’s solo trip through Morocco

It then pin-balled among us six divers staring wildly at our watches for our no-saturation bottom time limit to be up – we knew at least JPJ’s bottom was up. It was only 10 minutes, though it seemed like an eternity.

“Eight minutes – only two more minutes remain until ascent!!”

We busied ourselves kicking like kangaroos and launching Muay Thai elbow strikes at the devil deuce, when to our horror it split in two at the thrust of a well-placed kick of a Rocket dive fin.

“There are too many!” I wailed, and we all in synchronicity motioned ourselves to an early ascent to the top of the rope. The turds initially followed our group as the force of our sudden departure drew the current up behind us. Ah, but then they released and sank out of sight, swirling in a Coriolis-effected counterclockwise motion, straight toward Davy Jones’ locker where he too found himself thoroughly disenchanted by the unannounced caller.

“What the phuq, JP??” was the first lamentation expressed. I for one had new faith in any admonishment delivered by the sea-worthy Big Joe C., and never made another deep dive with that disgusting sea lackey John Paul Jones.

“Make your lubber back to shore post haste, Big Joe!” I called out.

“Aye-aye, was the affirmation from the helm as a gentle sea-sprinkle lightly broke and politely ensued.

By almighty God and with honor,

geo sends

Master Sergeant George Hand, US Army (ret), from the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, The Delta Force. In service, he maintained a high level of proficiency in 6 foreign languages. Post military, George worked as a subcontracter for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on the nuclear test site north of Las Vegas Nevada for 16 years. Currently, George works as an Intelligence Analyst and street operative in the fight against human trafficking. A master cabinet-grade woodworker and master photographer, George is a man of diverse interests and broad talents.

This article was first published by Sandboxx News.

Image Credit: Creative Commons.