As part of this month's issue's How Does It Feel...? feature, Ex-Navy SEAL Joel Lambert tells us what it’s like to carry out an air-to-water insertion in the middle of the night… and almost die in the process.
Here's how it went down...
Just before you go there’s a tension. You’re just tuned so tight you’re vibrating.
You’re not relaxed, you’re not scared, there’s no fear. It’s just this intense focus. You’re checking everything over and over and over again: your pistol, your rifle, your parachute harness. Then, when it happens, there’s no time to think anymore.
Everything just becomes instinctive. It’s just rocket fuel through the veins.
You hit the ground and you go. A lot of the time you don't feel as powerful as you are because you’ve got 50 to 60lbs of gear strapped to you, as well as night vision which takes away a lot of your peripheral vision and depth perception.
I remember moments. You’re so hyper-focused that colours, smells and sounds are all sharper, but you’re not thinking. You’re so completely invested in the moment, but then afterwards it’s a total blur.
It does feel isolating. When you’re skydiving in, once you go out the door, it’s just you and gravity.
I had a near death experience while skydiving into the Atlantic Ocean at night. As soon as I left the aircraft I could feel the wind was way too much, it was going to be very difficult. As I hit the water one of my leg straps would not release so I was still connected to my canopy which stayed inflated and started pulling me through the water at high speed.
I could hardly breathe but I finally got my leg out of the strap. Immediately the shroud lines of the canopy started to move around me, tightening around my shoulders, waist and legs. I realised that as soon as it broke surface tension it was going down and it would take me with it. So I pulled my knife and started cutting the lines but they were all over the place, wrapped around my head, my neck, my helmet.
It was like being attacked by a huge jellyfish. I popped my safety jacket but it wasn’t enough. I went under.
My strobe light hadn’t flooded out yet and a few of the other guys saw it underwater. They raced over and went down to cut me loose. They pulled me up and into the boat and I got a chance to get my breath. It was a very close call. I saw the light and I felt the peace.
I got right back in the water and continued the mission. Because you finish what you’re doing.
Manhunt, starring Joel Lambert, continues on the Discovery Channel on Thursdays at 9pm.