SGPT Interviews Navy SEAL Jeff Gonzales

SGPT: Tell us about yourself.

JG: That’s a good question, I was born and raised in Texas. An above average athlete, I played water polo in high school and competed on the junior national pentathlon team. I decided I wanted to be the best within the special operation field and that meant the SEAL Teams. I joined the Navy without my parents knowing thanks to the delayed entry program and about a week before boot camp at the dinner table I dropped low yield nuclear bomb on my parents. My mom still reminds me to this day. My motivation then was to be the best, it wasn’t until I was downrange I discovered my true desire to help those who cannot help themselves. I was a bullies nightmare at a global scale. I may not longer wear the uniform, but that fundamental desire burns just as hot as it did decades ago.

SGPT: What influenced you to want to join the SEAL Teams?

JG: Once I realized what I wanted to do I was systematic at discovering who the best were and being a part of them. I studying as much open source material as I could and read a few fictional books at the time, but my mind was set. Come hell or high water I was going to Coronado. I choose a unique rating I thought would be valuable in the Teams, Intel Specialist. My recruiter was hell bent on convincing me I would get both. I stood my ground and told him no deal. It’s double or nothing, the rest is history.

SGPT: What BUDS class did you go through? What was the hardest part for you?

JG: I was in class 155, nicknamed “the one’s they hated”. I’m not sure if that was a good thing, but looking back and spending time as an Instructor it definitely wasn’t ideal. Honestly the hardest part was dive physics, I was up against the ropes there and luckily I had some classmates and a few instructors help me pass. You ask any Frogman and I’m sure you will hear something about being wet and sandy, but the only thing I can remember other than that would be the underwater breath hold, that was not easy at all and I was a good swimmer. None of this diminishes the grueling physical ordeal all of us go through, it is demanding for a reason. I have learned this over the years, the stronger and fitter you are, they better chances you have of being a solid operator.

SGPT: Were you an athlete growing up? How did you train before going to BUDS?

JG: I loved playing water polo and it was perfect for my career path. The water is the great equalizer, I could match up against a much larger opponent and still hold my own because the water created a neutral battleground. I was gifted enough to be asked to join the pentathlon team; which was such a unique experience and one of my fondest memories. I left for the Navy in probably the best shape to tackle BUDS one could hope for. I didn’t “train” for BUDS per say, I trained for nationals and it just so happened to be a great primer.

SGPT: If you were to give a young tadpole advice on going to BUDS – what would it be?

JG: I crushed many a BUDS student’s dreams as an instructor. I have this knack for sensing weakness and then will put you to task. Everyone will be in a position where they may question their goals, that is the purpose of such an arduous campaign. What keeps you going is your determination and indomitable spirit that no matter what comes your way you will lean in and deal with it. You have your eye on the prize, every action, choice and decision you make is to fulfill your goal. I saw a lot of kids come through and be disappointed. They were living a fantasy, not a dream and there is a difference. The fantasy is out of reach, but your ego thinks different, the dreamer will move heaven and earth. When the going get’s tough those who fantasized about being a SEAL didn’t have the backbone to gut through the challenges. If you decided to make that commitment, make sure you are doing it for the right reasons.

SGPT: What SEAL Team(s) did you serve on? What was the funniest thing that ever happened to your guys?

JG: I was at SEAL Team Four and thank my lucky stars since back then we were involved in some amazing opportunities. Probably the funniest thing, though it depends on your perspective happened when we were returning from one trip. We were in relaxed grooming standards and my physical appearance did not look anything like my passport. When I got to the customs window someone in front of me apparently brought up how I was using a “fake” passport so when she looked at me and got her supervisor who asked me to follow him. I was lead to a room and I shit you not it had a single light bulb dangling over an old chair and nothing else. The door locked behind me and I was like this is weird. The platoon moved out to the tarmac and when my OIC took a muster I was still MIA. Someone finally mentioned what had happened and he goes screaming back to the terminal to try and track down the host nation’s commandant who was there to see us off. I was told he threw himself on the hood of his motorcade. The next thing I hear is the commandants roar as he tears through the bowels of the airport until the door swings open and literally grabs me by the scruff of my neck and is half way carrying me half way ushering me. The terminal had this big glass windows and I could see the C130 turning with the troop door open and he literally tosses me out the door and stands guard. I see a few guys hanging out the door yelling at me so I start hauling ass, they literally reached down and pulled me up then the pilot hit the gas and we were airborne a few minutes later. Needless to say it was the quietest flight home as my OIC and Chief tour everyone new assholes for their shenanigans.

SGPT: What are you up to these days? Tell us about your latest projects with Trident Concepts?

JG: Trident Concepts is one of our country’s premier weapons and tactics training companies. I have been very fortunate to parlay my experience from the Teams into a solid business. We run training classes all over the country and recently took the position as Director of Training for a brand new 52,000 square foot indoor range. That means I will be traveling less, but we have some big plans for the city of Austin and Texas in general. My goal is to make the Range at Austin the center of education for weapons and tactics. I have a great staff and tons of support so I’m very excited about this new challenge.

SGPT: What book are you reading now?

JG: You will laugh, but I have been known to pull my old instructor training manual out and review it from time to time. Aside from that, I read books as often as I can. I just finished one called “Lords of the Sea, the epic story of the Athenian Navy and the birth of Democracy” Highly recommended for my Green Brothers. I also got a chance to review Extreme Ownership by fellow Frogman and highly recommend it as well.

SGPT: Thanks so much Jeff for the interview, we really appreciate it.

JG: It was my honor my brothers, long live the brotherhood

SEALgrinderPT is a proud donor to the Navy SEAL Foundation

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