In this chapter, David recalls Hell Week during his SEAL training which was both physically draining and mentally demanding. As most the SEAL recruits tend to be physically, the Hell Week program is structured in a way that it exposes the character, determination, and mental strength of each recruit. Normally, from a class of about one hundred and twenty recruits only twenty to forty make it to the finish.
When a recruit chooses to quit the training, they are expected to walk to a strategically positioned bell and ring it three times. This ensures the military can easily track the number of people who have left and those still in the program. However, at each sound of the bell, David knew that he was closer to the finish line and it gave him the motivation to continue.
As part of training, David was placed in the Boat Crew Two team where he developed a good working relationship with his team mates. To be successful and survive, they had to work together as a team and complement each other’s abilities. To this end, David and Freak Brown carried the front part of the boat which was the heaviest section. Freak was an actual freak of nature as he had cleft lips and had been subjected to abuse for most of his life. His background mirrored that of David’s as he had suffered from learning disabilities and was way behind his classmates as a child. He was also a poor swimmer but worked his way into improving his skills to join the SEALS. Regardless, he was physically strong and did not back down on a challenge. Freak Brown was an important part of the team that David and other team members relied on to finish their tasks.
David hated their instructors, especially Psych Pete, who pushed them into doing various exhaustive exercises. However, David decided to channel this hatred positively so he psyched up his team, they were reenergized, and easily did the physical exercises much to the dismay of the instructors. This strategy that David fondly refers to as Taking Souls enabled Boat Crew Two to tackle each exercise with lightning speed.
As the leader of his team, David did not want to show any weakness and he worked hard to ensure that the team was motivated. Even though he was nursing a knee injury, David still participated vigorously in the exercises and led his team to win each race. They were indomitable. At the end of Hell Week, only thirty recruits remained and each team had lost many members during the course of the training except for David’s team. They had all survived Hell Week, faced their weaknesses, and conquered them. From this experience, David started employing the Taking Souls concept to surmount various tasks before him.