date of birth - unknown
A Navy SEAL meets God behind enemy linesby Rit Nosotro First Published:: 2003
Steve Watkins was part of a special mission called Operation Michael Jordan during Desert Storm. The operation was designed to make it look like the beginning of an amphibious landing by showing a predawn reconnaissance and obstacle removal on the beach. The operation was a successfully completed by planting six haversacks full of C-4 explosives, which would be detonated by electronic timers. After they dropped the explosives off they planted large, inflatable, orange buoys, one on the right and on the left, about a 100 yd offshore. One-half hour before the explosives detonated, high-speed boats would spray the beach with 7.62 mm and .50-caliber machine-gun fire along with 40-millimeter grenades. This faked out the Iraqi forces and drew them away from the actual landing assalt.
When Steve Watkins was young he and his friend (Donald Vish) loved to pretend that they were commandos. They loved to pretend being Army Rangers, Green Berets, or Marine Force Recon. At Steve's friend's house they never had TV until Donald was in high school, so Donald read books instead of watching TV. When they were looking through war books they saw a picture of a soldier in Vietnam, it said in the caption that the man was the "most feared animal in the jungle", the man was a US Navy SEAL. After that the boys always pretended to be Navy SEALs. Steve began finding out as much as he could on the Navy SEALs. When the boys grew up, only Steve still desired to be a Navy SEAL.
Steve left for Orlando, Florida, and Navy boot camp on March 7, 1987. Navy boot camp was the most demoralizing experience of his life and not physically challenging. At the end of two months he graduated.
After two months of parachute rigger training he headed to Coronado Island, California, for Navy SEAL training. He arrived in Coronado on August 1987 and started training on October 1987. Steve had to go through all kinds of very tough training. On a run one day he got caught by the "goon squad". He was forced to jump into a pit of stagnant tidewater, do push-ups until muscle failure, and run with a handful of sand in his mouth until he caught up to the group. He went through Hell Week (the hardest week of training) and he could hardly remember any of it.
Next he did Land Warfare Phase which focused on small-unit tactics and weapons training. He learned map and compass navigation, weapons and explosives proficiency, ambush tactics, underwater demolition tactics, rappelling, and mission planning. Steve had the privilege of being trained by one of the most knowledgeable and heroic SEALs named Mike Bailey.
Next was Dive Phase where trainees were tested in physics, medicine, marine life, and a lot of other stuff related to the underwater world. They learned about Open-circuit scuba, which causes a lot of bubbles to go to the surface of the water. They also learned about closed-circuit scuba. Steve had to go through a lot of really tough training, but after 26 weeks of rigorous training Steve graduated and became US Navy SEAL.
Steve was assigned to Charlie Platoon in SEAL Team Five. In Charlie Platoon Steve learned desert, jungle, and arctic warfare, skills in advanced combat swimming, advanced medical training, hostage rescues, and a lot of other stuff. While he was in Charlie Platoon he became the secondary sniper for the two-man platoon sniper team, he was also point man for his platoon. His platoon's first deployment was in Alaska on February 1989. They survived temperatures as low as forty degrees below zero in "snow caves".
Once their training in Alaska was done, Charlie Platoon returned to Coronado. Steve's guilt about his sinfulness finally prompted him to go to church, so he could deal with his questions and fears about death. Not knowing the differences between any kinds of churches, it was God that led Steve to a Baptist church in Coronado. After the service a sincere Sunday-school teacher named John Simpson introduced himself to Steve and invited Steve to come to his house for fellowship and Bible study. Steve told him that he had been feeling guilty about the way he had been living and that he was scared that when he died that he would go to hell. John showed Steve passages of Scripture in the Bible for every question Steve had. From what Steve saw in the Bible he knew that he was not saved. He started going to home Bible studies and started understanding more and more of what John was teaching, but he was still not ready to give up his lifestyle. Charlie Platoon continued to train hard in preparation for going to the Philippines and soon Steve slowly stopped going to the Bible studies.
God began showing who was in control of Steve's life at night on a training exercise when he almost drowned. After that night Steve knew that God had saved his life. From that time on he carefully began reading the Bible and went back to the Bible studies that John taught.
When Charlie Platoon got to the Philippines it thrilled Steve. Almost as fast as their bags were unpacked they were sent to Guam to train for a special mission. That training turned into a near-death experience that turned Steve's life around. Charlie Platoon was in a CH-46 helicopter and suddenly the helicopter started shaking violently and was heading toward the ship's smokestacks. Thankfully the pilot regained control and everything turned out fine, but after Steve talked to somebody who said they didn't expect to live through that incident he felt a sick feeling come over him as he remembered his last escape from death.
Once Steve got back to the barracks in Guam he realized that he deserved to go to hell for his sins and that his only hope was by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. He asked God to forgive him of his sins and committed his life to Him. After that Steve truly did not want to sin anymore. None of the members of his platoon were Christians, so he faced opposition. They tried to get him to go with them to the bars and houses of ill repute, but he refused. Steve was able to find a Filipino Baptist church that he was able to go to. He found that the believers were overwhelmingly gracious and loving and he was welcomed with open and generous arms. Even though fellow SEALs treated him different, because he was a Christian they still respected him as a SEAL. God helped Steve to excel in marksmanship and become one of the two platoon snipers. After six months of deployment Charlie Platoon went back to the United States. In January 1990, Charlie Platoon was disbanded, but five (including Steve) stayed together and were assigned to Foxtrot Platoon.
After a few months in Foxtrot Platoon, Steve and Bruce Larson (their first-squad radioman) were chosen to go to an advanced sniper school at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. When they were getting ready for sniper school they made Ghuille suits. Ghuille suits are made of strips of burlap sown to camouflage fatigues that have canvassed reinforced sections on the front of the shirt and thigh areas. When a sniper has a Ghuille suit on and is lying flat on the ground in tall grass and shrubs it is almost impossible to see him. They trained with a group of Green Berets and learned about camouflage; tracking; advanced clandestine infiltration; ballistics; bullet reloading; mathematical calculations for wind, distance, and climate; advanced reconnaissance techniques; urban sniping; shooting through glass; and designing bullets that could go through tough surfaces. They were shown how to get through electronic defense systems and motion detectors. After about two weeks both Steve and Bruce completed sniper school.
Foxtrot Platoon was sent to the Persian Gulf in August 10, 1990. They conducted reconnaissance missions on enemy troop movements. One day their camp was hit by a few missiles, but thankfully there was no damage and no casualties. After a couple months there they returned to the States.
When Steve had been in the SEALs a few more years he was selected to train for going into SEAL Team Six or as it is commonly called Dev group. Dev group is truly the best of the best and to be chosen for this group is rare and every SEAL dreams of becoming part of Dev group. Even though Steve had been a part of Operation Michael Jordan and was doing very well in the SEALs he decided that God was calling him to be a pastor so he decided to get out of the Navy SEALs. On March 1993 he received a honorable discharge from the navy and a now he is a pastor in Kentucky.