If you haven’t been through BUD/S training yourself, you may not be familiar with one of their longest-running traditions: class gifts. There is furniture, cut-outs, memorials, mini items, up to 6-foot-statues – all to commemorate trainees and their time spent at BUD/S training.
Each of these class gifts have been given to instructors, or rather, to the school, by graduating class members. Once the new SEALs and instructors alike have moved on, the bequests stay behind; they belong to BUD/S itself.
They line the walls, fill offices and classrooms – the entire venue is chock-full of these so-called gifts. Some are even legendary, earning nicknames as common points of interest, or earning a function in which they are used by trainers on a regular basis.
What’s a BUD/S Class?
A class is designated by those who participate in Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Qualification Training together. It is the initial six months of mental and physical torture with the hopes of finally pinning with their trident pins – officially marking them as a qualified Navy SEAL – is a lengthy and impressive accomplishment.
In fact, it’s a process that takes more than a full calendar year to complete. Therefore, it’s only fitting that the class places their mark on their time spent training. Blood, sweat, and tears will fade, but their class gift will live forever. (Or at least as long as SEAL training itself.)
Most often, class gifts consist of etched rocks, plaques, etc., that are marked with the class number, a motto or saying, and sometimes even the members’ names.
But where did this tradition come from? And why do class gifts exist? In a recent article on Coffee or Die one reporter set out do find that out, and apparently, it’s a combination of both nostalgia and camaraderie.
Notable Class Gifts
It’s also worth noting that the gifts have nicknames. “Log PT” consists of a wooden statue of two training SEALs holding a log with the sentiment, “Soft sand makes a hard man.”
When class 343 came through, they noted the significance of their name; it’s the number of firefighters who were killed in 9/11. They snagged wreckage from the actual World Trade Center and turned it into a 4-foot statue with a carved 343 on top.
Another class gift was presented as a tool for instructors. The stand on a platform supported by telephone poles to lead the BUD/S trainees.
Other gifts have been around for decades, notably a collection of wooden and painted animals, all with different themes and nicknames: an actual SEAL, multiple frogs, frogman, and more.
Then of course, we have the plaque with the famous slogan, “The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday,” from BUD/s Class 89 which still remains in the BUD/S compound for more than forty years with the hopes of providing future SEALs with discomforting encouragement while in training.
While some are more creative, others keep it simple with a plaque or statue that lists their class number and call it a day. In any case, their gifts serve as a reminder of who was there and what they went through, even as they head out into future missions throughout the world.
It shows current BUD/S members of the camaraderie the program can provide, even when attempting some of the most brutal training in the modern military and Special Forces.