Cant Hurt Me - Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds
David Goggins
Contributed by Eleanor Sherer
Chapter 5

After successfully completing Hell Week, David was still carrying his injury at the knee but he preserved the pain. With two days to go in the Walk Week, David went for a medical follow up on his knee. The injury put everything at stake since if the knee was too injured and he could not continue for the next five months, he would be asked to leave for home. Upon recovery, a recruit would have to undergo a roll back plan which included starting the training afresh and facing Hell Week again. These choices were very difficult to make and the medical doctors at the Naval Special Warfare Command and the SEAL candidates had a “don’t ask, don’t tell” agreement in which the SEAL students did not reveal much about how they were feeling. As such, the doctors were hesitant in pulling one out of the program on medical grounds and just patched up the recruits to continue with their intensive training regime.

This time round, David was not only suffering from an injured knee but he had also contracted pneumonia. With each cough, he could feel the pain in his chest but he was not going to quit, especially after previously leaving an intensive training program due to an excuse. He was determined to fight on to the end. The doctor prescribed Motrin to reduce the swelling on his knee and another medicine to clear up his congested lungs. David was optimistic that he could fight off the pain and complete the training. Within two days, his breathing became better but he could not bend his right knee. It is at this point that he realized that his stiff knee would be a huge problem in the future training exercises.

The next exercise for the SEAL students that David had to contend with was the underwater knot tying exercise. Though he had conquered his fear of the pool, deep down, David still knew that the swimming was not one of his strengths. With a stiff knee, all the odds were against him as he walked into the water. Worse still, he was paired with Psych Pete who still had a bruised ego from the impressive Hell Week that David had pulled through with his team. The recruits were expected to make a total of five knots under the water with the supervision of their assigned instructor who was to approve of it before they could swim up for a breath of fresh air. David did his first and second knots on one breath which Psych Pete abnormally long to certify as good enough as if to punish him as he fought to hold his breath.

On surfacing, Pete was breathing free and easy while David was gasping for air and panting like a tired dog. Pete then dared David to do the three remaining knots in one breathe. This was not part of the rules but David decided to take this challenge on and took one breathe of air and dived to complete the three knots. All over sudden his life story and struggles replayed in his mind and it was as if time had frozen. He felt energized and tied the knots at a slow pace. On finishing the knots, Psych Pete quickly approved them and rushed for a breath of quick air. David had just beaten him on his own challenge!  This, unfortunately, had a negative impact on his recovering knee as he fractures his kneecap. Consequentially, David was sent home much to his disappointment but at he was certain that they would invite him and nonetheless, he was proud he had not quit. David chose to take a train home rather than a flight, as he needed more time to reflect on his life.

In Chicago, Pam (who had previously married but then divorced) met him at the station. She drove him to his mother’s place in Indianapolis and later that night they slept together. They kept seeing each other and Pam eventually got pregnant, much to the shock of David. He was neither financially nor emotionally ready for a kid and never loved Pam. On the other hand, Pam was elated by the development and wanted to start a family again with David.

Soon the military needed David’s final decision on whether he was coming back to the training or not. David decided to rejoin the training program but upon arrival, he was informed that he had to start all over again from week one, day one. This meant that he would go through Hell Week again. He was also informed that this was the last time that they would allow him back and any more injury would result to the end of his dream of becoming a SEAL. This time around, the training was even more intensive than before as the military had stopped giving them huge amounts of food and they had to contend with small rations that mimicked a real wartime situation. As usual, the majority of his class quit along the way and one classmate, Mr. Skop, died at the tail end of the program. David persevered and was able to able to graduate as a SEAL.


This particular chapter clearly highlights the determination and drive that David had in becoming a SEAL. He was ready to surpass any challenge thrown his way to realize his dream. In his first enlistment in the military, David had succumbed to the pressure and he therefore did not want to quit this time around. He had a very positive spirit and took a leading role on his team.

Even when after a knee injury sent him home, David decided to start the training program all over again instead of taking an easier career, such as becoming a firefighter. His relentless attitude ultimately paid off as he finally become a SEAL.

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