As long time readers are perhaps painfully aware, I’ve been baby-sat on flights for most all of my life because of a “perpetual” and “interdepartmental” program set up by DoS and DSCC and their minions. I was told in no uncertain terms by the U.S. Consultate in Rome some 25 years ago that there’s nothing I can do about this. It is what it is.
With the recent death of Richard Marcinko, Founder and Commander of SEAL Team 6 (now DEVGRU), an incident comes to mind of this kind of baby sitting from some forty years ago, the early 1980s.
When entering 747 TWA flight 840, JFK-FCO (New York – Rome), from the front of the aircraft, then making my way toward the back of the plane, I was looking for anything out of the ordinary where my seat would be. There was. A stewardess blocked everyone’s way just at that row of seats, checking this or that ticket of just some of the men, but letting all and sundry pass by, until I got there and she asked for my ticket. She made triple-sure of my identity, and asked for my passport, not returning it immediately. I had the still empty window seat (no window in that row next to the emergency exits), and the other seat across from the galley was empty.
“Sir, follow me,” she commanded in no uncertain terms. “Yes, ma’am,” said I. She pointed to a center-center seat in the central island of seats in that section of the 747, and said that I was to sit next to the co-pilot, who, bored to death and annoyed to be just there in the plane instead of up in the cockpit, having to babysit me, was there filling out logs. This went on for ten minutes. The plane was filling up but no one was seated in that island of seats except for us. While we waited, the stewardess was standing at what was supposed be my row of seats. Finally, someone was squeezing into the seat next to mine, a big guy, so much so that I thought he might fill up both seats. It looked like he bench-pressed city buses for a couple of hours before breakfast every day. Instantly, the stewardess walked toward me and commanded, “Sir, follow me.” “Yes, ma’am,” said I. The co-pilot instantly took off to the cockpit. “You can be seated now,” she said, leaving. “Thank you, ma’am,” said I. Somehow I was able to fit into my seat.
He wore a day-to-day military uniform he was clearly not used to wearing. He was of very sharp intellect and at the same time obviously some sort of rogue warrior. Now I find out that that’s what he’s been called: “The Rogue Warrior”. Google that. As I asked him my usual pesky if well-spaced questions, a practice I’ve had my entire life, he mentioned that he was heading to the middle east, Commander, as he was, of what he called in those early years, a SEAL Team, ST6. Perhaps I had been bragging on my dad as Commander of the USMC Corsair Fighter Attack Checkerboarders that loosened him up a bit enough to tell me that bit about himself. He having told me that, I felt badly that he had to be tasked with babysitting me. And that’s still true. He would have been on a military transport, but when there’s someone in need of babysitting going the same way, anyone is assigned to go on conventional craft to get the job done.
At the time, I was a seminarian and, if somewhat a military brat on the Department of the Navy side of things, still had not much of an idea of what SEAL Team 6 was all about. All he said was that he was getting some things reorganized and something about the Middle East.
When I saw the news of the death on Christmas 2021 of Richard Marcinko, 82 years old, and seeing his picture, I knew that that was the guy. Who else looks just like him and was commander of that SEAL Team back in the day? Nobody at all is the answer.
I spent nine hours sitting with him, elbow to elbow. But I hadn’t much of an idea who I was really sitting next to. I wish I knew then what I know now. We were in a row of seats adjacent to the emergency exits near the wing.
FoxNews put up a great short obituary of The Rogue Warrior, well worth the read, as it’s well worth getting introduced to this guy:
You know you’re getting old when all those you’ve met in life are dying all around you. Hail Mary… now and at the hour of our death…
“We are better off for his unconventional service.” Prayers for you, Richard.