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The Real Teamby Richard Marcinko
Chapter One: Larry Barrett
aka Bullet Head/Gold Dust Twin
Larry served with me when I had command of SEAL Team TWO; back then, he was a young E-4 petty officer, working in the Ordnance department. He's one of those tenacious bulldogs who doesn't let go when he has a job to do. ("Bulldog" is appropriate, since he had previous service with the Marine Corps.)
When I started the initial selection process for SIX, Larry was at the top of my list. Why did I single out this lower-than-whale-shit E-4? Because he worked hard at everything he did. The average person will put some effort into the things that come naturally and slack off on the things they're no good at. Someone above average will work at improving their weak spots, but they might not push as hard in the areas that come easy, relying on their natural abilities. The exceptional person will go balls-to-the-wall, no matter what he's working on. Larry was exceptional. "Diligence" is one way to put it; "can-do" spirit is another. He was always hungry to learn more, willing to go that extra step to become a more qualified operator.
(Just to clarify things — you'll hear a lot about both SIX and Red Cell, which are two related but distinct commands. SEAL Team SIX was charged with the mission of counterterrorism worldwide. That meant killing the terrorists or preventing them from doing their dirty deeds. Red Cell was designed to expose the Navy to terrorist tactics and help develop an antiterrorist environment throughout the Navy worldwide. That meant creating awareness and security programs that make it too hard for the nasties to get to you, so they'll give up and go down the street to the Air Farce base.)
There's another reason Larry impressed me. Most people's blood type is A, B, O, maybe AB; Larry's got something unique flowing through his veins — type L-O-Y-A-L-T-Y. He's not just loyal to me; he's loyal to his beliefs. There's nothing half-assed with Larry — it's all or nothing. (You'll soon see that this is a common attribute among the Real Team personalities. There's no "gray area" — it's black or white. Compromise is not in their vocabulary.) An example of Larry's loyalty: after I selected him, he made sure I'd consider his swim buddy from training, Frank Phillips. (Frank is the other Gold Dust Twin.) Not only did he make sure I'd interview Frank, he also coached him — told him to volunteer for the unit and not ask any dumb questions. Larry was loyal to his swim buddy, and to his new Team; he was a believer in the unit, even before the unit existed.
Another one of Larry's assets was his skill with foreign languages. He could develop a working knowledge of a language pretty damn fast; give him a few days, and he could understand and assess conversations and written material, and express himself pretty well — with one drawback. Whatever language, he spoke it in a south Florida drawl. That limited his effectiveness in counterintelligence operations. No real problem there. We all have talents and limitations; the key is to maximize the former and limit the latter. I'd pick other guys in the Team for the verbal stuff.
But in every other way, Larry was terrific operationally. When he wants to, he can melt into the background and become wallpaper; he's got one of those faces that you feel like you know from somewhere. He mingles well with just about anybody; he can walk up to a total stranger and start a conversation without seeming pushy or threatening.
Behind that mild-mannered exterior, his brain is always going. He always has a purpose in mind; he's always collecting data, looking for ways to achieve the mission more effectively. He never stops learning, never stops passing on all he can.
Over the years, I had the privilege of watching Larry develop as a leader. He always led from the front and demanded top performance from his subordinates. He learned from the chiefs who raised him; he spent his time in the trenches with his troops, making sure they were well prepared, militarily and personally, for what they would face. He's a hell of an instructor — meticulous in his presentation, eager to explain the "whys" that make it all work. He never forgets that this shit was new to him once, too. I've also had the pleasure of watching him raise his two young boys with the same thoroughness and dedication. He's determined to pass on everything his father gave to him, plus whatever his "sea daddies" shared with him.
I don't want this to sound like some kind of "I love you — you love me" Valentine, so I've got to talk about Larry's flaws. His loyalty was so strong that his first impulse was to follow my orders or wishes, even if he saw a better way. He might not even tell me about that better way. He soon learned to speak up more often, and when he did speak, I listened. I knew his ideas were backed up with thought and merit. He never talked just to hear his own voice.
Larry was and is a "temple dog." Anyone would be blessed to have him in their organization. If the United States ever needs his talents again, I know he'll be there in some shape or form.
Now listen to what a growling bulldog has to say about teamwork.
NAME: Larry Barrett
DOB: December 22, 1951
HOMETOWN: DeFuniak Springs, Florida
MILITARY: United States Marine Corps; SEAL Team TWO; Mob SIX; SEAL Team SIX; Red Cell; SEAL Team FOUR, Navy liaison to the Air Force for SpecOps
HIGHEST RANK: E-9, master chief
CURRENT: Owner/operator, RV park and nature camp
First time I was in combat was Grenada. I thought it was...pretty interesting. We hit the radio station and received some fire, seized the radio station and basically stopped traffic. Not too long after that we started having guys arriving in these six-bys, armored trucks. That's when all hell broke loose. We had to shoot our way off the beach. Some of the guys had to swim out in the ocean and appropriate a fishing boat.
The first time, I guess, is always kind of strange. You're thinking, "Why are these guys shooting at me? I'm a pretty decent guy — why are they trying to kill me? Just because I invaded their country..." But it was pretty wild.
Combat can be terrifying, exhilarating, powerful — all these different things, depending on what's happening to you at the time and how well you deal with it all. And combat is relative to the piece of ground you're standing on. You can say, "Ah, Grenada wasn't much." Well, from my point of view, it was plenty. It all depends on what's happening on your little piece of ground.
My mom pretty much ran that store. She did a whole lot of work herself. My father was probably the toughest man I ever met, but when it came down to it, my mother was tougher in the long run. She had to deal with me and my two sisters, and him. Strong woman.
My dad was a firm believer in work. There was no sitting around the house. Came summer, he found you a job, farmed you out to people around here, maybe clearing land with a machete or working for a carpenter. So I had a job every summer. Then, of course, we were always helping out around the store, pumping gas and so forth. This was back in the days of full service at no extra charge.
We had a unique childhood. That's a story right there in itself, growing up in the store. We had a pet bear, and my father brought home little alligators when he came back from hunting.
I always went to real small schools, so we did
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