Although numb with shock, his body, seconds after hitting the icy ocean, moved into action with an instinct born of countless hours of training.
With a quick thrust of his legs, the diver plunged downward. Moving with the confidence of a man who knows exactly what he's doing, the diver quickly oriented himself and prepared for the evolution.
It was going to be a long night - a three-hour op in 42-degree water - no sense wasting time.
Even with his illuminated compass board, vision was limited to six inches in the inky black water. But, as a gentle squeeze on his arm reminded him, he was not alone. His dive-buddy was down there with him. Together they shared the danger as they made their way toward the night's target.
Just another day at the office for two members of a Navy SEAL team.
SEALs are unique in the special warfare community in that their capabilities include working on and under the water.
This is often a dangerous mission; the ocean is unforgiving, especially at night. It is no place for shortcuts. There is only one way to operate: by the book.
It's a book whose text was drawn from the mistakes of others - sometimes fatal mistakes.
During the Grenada invasion, a new chapter was added to the book. Four team members drowned while attempting a "rubber duck" insertion (jumping from a C-130, with a rubber boat, into the ocean). The lessons of that fateful night have been well learned and incorporated in the new SEAL SOPs. The same mistakes will not happen again.
Because of the acknowledged dangers of the job, prospective SEALs go through what is considered by some to be the toughest training in the world. "Whenever I'm really cold, wet, miserable and wishing I was...