The SEAL Who Knocked Ol' Jessie Down

Coming of age in the late 40’s and early 50’s, like so many I was a boy reared on the declining realities of WWII and the much more immediate Hollywood depictions of that cataclysmic event in Technicolor epics that could fire the sense of  joining battle even in a Quaker. The United States Army designated we youthful devotees of such movies as John Wayne’s, foolish young men who leaned more to the Hollywood version of combat than the brutal reality our fathers experienced, with a lot to learn.

An integral part of that Hollywood and John Wayne induced reality was the barroom brawl, and as a former combat military policeman in the 101st Airborne Division during that era, I can assure you that such brawls were frequent, sometimes bloody, but above all, celebrated as demonstrations of unit pride. They would never admit it back then, but there were plenty of colonels and sergeant majors who swelled with satisfaction upon being handed a military police report that indicated their paratroopers had kicked the butts of the  paratroopers from another battalion or regiment. That pride was pure spades if the defeated happened to be Marines. This was the Airborne Army back in the 50’s and early 60’s, the lifestyle among the elite units of the military in those long ago days. The training encouraged aggression and weekend alcohol fueled the fires of that aggression until it blazed throughout some on-post club or an off-post bar or night club in a club-wide brawl.

I have both been a participant in such brawls and policed many such fights; and the unwritten, unspoken but blood-sworn rule, held to by even those most egregiously battered, was that you never pointed a finger at whatever soldier it might have been who kicked your butt. When the fighting stopped, there were no recriminations and no blame attached to any participant. The parties either returned to their seats and resumed drinking or left the premises, frequently with numerous middle fingers being thrown back.

All of the above brings me to the point of this piece. A tough guy ex-Navy SEAL, Jesse Ventura, former professional wrestler and Minnesota governor, allegedly found himself in a bar in Coronado, California, frequented by SEALs where he reportedly imbibed adult beverages to the point where he became verbally boisterous about political and combat issues best not raised in such an environment. Another SEAL took offense and following the warrior tradition outlined in the paragraphs above, pulled a John Wayne and knocked ol’ governor Jessie smack on his butt. Or so the story goes, one that Jesse disputes.

Sadly, the SEAL who knocked ol’ Jessie down was later murdered by one of those inexplicable crazies that surface all too frequently and far too tragically, a young man the SEAL was endeavoring to help. Now, the widow of that SEAL who knocked ol’ Jessie down is being sued by Jessie, the Soulless SEAL, for defamation because her deceased husband had alleged on television that he had, indeed once knocked ol’ Jessie down.

Good grief, Jessie, lots of us military tough guys get knocked down in barroom fights from time to time; I most certainly have and know how well it hurts, both physically and emotionally. But the real men always get up and get over it, sometimes even buying the guy who belted us a beer. And you want to sue the guy’s widow? Because he says he kicked your butt? Hell Jessie, you’re no real SEAL, you’re just a crass, greedy opportunist seeking headlines no matter what the financial and emotional costs to the widow of a REAL SEAL.

Jessie, I would wager you’re stock is well beneath contempt in the military community.