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Life for a Delta Force man in an American neighborhood

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The social life of a Delta operator was awkward at times for some of my Delta brothers and me as well. A shady front was constantly maintained between us and our civilian neighbors around our residences, since, often, we came to live very near the typical neighborhood population that we all hailed from.

Most of the men graduating Assessment and Selection (A&S) came from military posts all across the United States, so they had to pick up and move their families to the vaunted Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. I came from the Special Forces Dive Academy in Key West, Florida after completing Phase One of the Delta A&S process. I had a previous assignment at Ft. Bragg so I knew the essential ropes of the installation.

I chose to live in a small country estate a few miles out in the Ft. Bragg periphery that cost me only two instances of a traffic signal to negotiate on my commute. That made for a quick trip to work and back with a net distance of roughly 30 miles one way.

My immediate next-door neighbor, Rex, was a fine blue-collared American man with a wife, three daughters, three infant babies, three boyfriends for his daughters, and three cheap cars parked on the once-fine grass of his front yard. Each daughter-boyfriend pair had a tiny baby of infant age each of whom pined the day that boyfriend would marry the daughter to give them solid standing in the American census.

His house had the same square footage as mine, so I often wondered how bearable it was when all 11 people were there at the same time. I imagine most of the spats involved the bathrooms and kitchen. To put it succinctly I couldn’t imagine how the occupants could bear to live there together.

Poor Rex.

Rex, for all his sins, called me John. He just had heard my name wrong when I first made my introduction. I just let him call me John and forgot about it.

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My wife had an idea of how to correct the confusion that I let her carry out.

“How about we bake them a plate of homemade cookies, and leave it on their front porch with the message ‘Cheers from Susan and GEORGE‘ along with the cookies,” she suggested. I, though not vexed by the matter that Rex called me John, nevertheless agreed to the idea.

And so we did bake and leave homemade cookies on their front porch. The next time I saw John he smiled and waved and called out to me:

“Hey, thanks for the cookies, John!”


Did I mention he had three daughters with three boyfriends, three infant babies, and three cheap cars parked on his front lawn to worry about? My first name was just not a thing on his agenda to grasp and solve. Good ol’ Rex. He was just a man living at the very edge of his wits.

There came a day when all the copper wire at the Unit compound was scheduled to be upgraded with fiber optics. There was a crew of linemen assembled, given a solemn security briefing, and an escort to conduct the work inside the compound walls.

So! This was the day that I learned that my good neighbor was a wireman by trade and selected to work with the crew conducting the upgrade of copper wire to fiber optics. I passed by the working crew one time with my tricked-out M4 carbine slung across my back and a stand-alone M-79 grenade launcher cradled in my arm.

“Howdy, Rex!” I called out cheerfully when I saw him.

“Howdy… John…,” his face went flush and he was stunned from his work momentarily, realizing that the big secret his neighbor carried was that he was an operator in the Delta Force assault squadrons. He turned his head and resumed his work on the fiber, not saying anything besides uttering a single word: “John” – that was me… John!

From then on, Rex avoided me at home and never looked at or greeted me again around our two houses.

What on Earth had they told Rex and his wireman crew at the safety brief?? I guess though, that it is good to be king, though the kingdom consisted of a neighbor with three unwed daughters, their three infant babies, their three slouching babies’ daddies, and their three cheap shoddy cars parked in the grass of my neighbor’s front lawn…

Me, my name is John!

By Almighty God and with honor,

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George Hand

Master Sergeant US Army (ret) from the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, The Delta Force. In service, he maintained a high level of proficiency in 6 foreign languages. Post military, George worked as a subcontracter for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on the nuclear test site north of Las Vegas Nevada for 16 years. Currently, George works as an Intelligence Analyst and street operative in the fight against human trafficking. A master cabinet-grade woodworker and master photographer, George is a man of diverse interests and broad talents.