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I began hallucinating early Thursday morning My team and I were halfway finished with what our instructors dubbed The Long Paddle and I could feel my sanity slowly slipping away A combination of severe sleep deprivation and extreme physical exercise can do that to you I had not had more than three hours of sleep since Hellweek had begun on Sunday afternoon As I looked around me I contemplated the extent of my delirium I was reasonably certain that the Statue of Liberty did not stand in San Diego and that the tigers racing along the river bank did not exist My ears picked up the sound of our boats leader having a heated argument with Jenkins but Jenkins had quit the team two weeks ago Looking around me I felt reassured seeing the confused expressions on my teammates faces Even though I was stuck in a tiny inflatable boat with six potential lunatics I at least knew that I was not the only one being affected by the exercise Hellweek I had been through some incarnation of it during each year of my life ever since peewee football But no previous hell could compare to the punishment that the United States Navy dishes out during Basic Underwater DemolitionSEAL Training BUDS Hellweek marks the sixth week of BUDS and is a six-day celebration of misery designed to eliminate weak candidates Only the strong can survive it This years week of torment was heightened by an untimely cold spell more than two thirds of our original class had already quit Running on soft sand beaches while wearing combat boots getting a facemask full of salt water while lugging twin steel scuba tanks on your back being soaking wet and covered with sand these are enough to make most people question their desire to finish the program But it was the cold that claimed the most victims We shivered through the nights and well into
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