For the week of June 2, 1999  thru June 8, 1999  

WRHS senior sets sights on Navy SEALs

Express Staff Writer

WRHS senior Antonio Pina is a SEAL-in-training

If you’re passing by Magic Reservoir this summer and notice something small gliding at high speeds over the water, it probably won’t be an aquatic mammal.

More likely, it will be Antonio Pina.

Antonio, a Wood River Valley High School senior, is in training for the U.S. Navy SEALS.

The SEALs—the acronym for sea, air, land—is a Delta Force-type special operations unit whose rugged members usually precede regular ground forces in military operations against an enemy.

That description is just what tweaked Pina’s interest.

"I wanted to join the moment I learned the SEALs were the elite commando team of the Unites States military," Pina said.

Actress Demi Moore provided some of those insights to Pina through her character in 1997’s feature film "G.I. Jane," in which Moore portrayed Lt. Jordan O’Neil, a woman who attempts to become a SEAL.

Not long after learning about the SEALs through the film, Pina was on the phone with a Navy recruiter in Twin Falls. That recruiter informed Antonio that he had a shot at the elite team.

Earlier this year, Pina received a notice from the Navy that he should show up in Chicago on August 5 for eight weeks of boot camp.

If he passes the battery of fitness tests—the sinewy senior is convinced he will—Pina will be flown to the Naval Amphibious Base in Coronado, Calif. for Basic Underwater Demolition/SEALS training, considered by many to be the most rigorous military training in the world.

Most of the running, swimming and calisthenics during the first four weeks of training is preparation for what the SEALs call "hell week"—six days of non-stop workouts with a maximum of four hours of sleep for the entire week.

"Hell week" proves to those who make it that the human body can endure ten times the amount of work the average man thinks possible, according to a Navy brochure.

Tests on physical and mental stamina are so brutal that the class of 100-plus trainees who enter the program usually whittle down to 20.

If he survives, Pina will go on to SEAL diving and land-warfare techniques.

Pina will leave behind five sisters and his parents in Hailey, but he said he is too excited to be sad about saying good bye.

Pina’s parents were at first incredulous when they learned of their son’s intentions, but now stand behind him.

"They think I’m a little crazy for doing it," Pina said. "But they’re OK with it. They think I should do what will help me with my future."

While in Coronado, Pina has plans to enroll at the University of California and pursue another dream.

"I want to be a lawyer," Pina said.

In addition to swimming at Magic, Antonio sticks to a daily routine of push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups and running, which he does according to SEAL instructions.

Navy SEAL activity has intensified in the last decade. SEALs have been instrumental recently in evacuating Kosovar refugees from Albania. Most SEAL operations, however, are clandestine and unreported in news media.

Reflecting on his career at WRHS, Pina said the school provided a solid base for him academically and physically.

"It’s a good learning environment," Pina said. "There is less separation between Latinos and Americans."

Latinos at the high school, Pina said, used to be reluctant to approach Americans and tended not to participate in school activities.

"Latinos felt like they were not accepted," he said. "It’s beginning to change. It’s getting better. Latinos are getting more involved in sports, like wrestling, football, and basketball."


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