Joey Reed has always had a strong personal connection to the U.S. Navy.
His grandfather is a World War II naval combat veteran. His older brother is a Navy special operations rescue diver.
So when Reed decided to join the military, it’s no surprise he chose the Navy. But he went for a different job, as a sailor who can be summoned to a danger zone anywhere in the world, at any time of day or night, to perform highly specialized waterborne operations in support of U.S. Navy SEALS.
The elite unit is the Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewmen. Few have the physical and mental capacity to earn entry. Fewer still do it on their first try.
Reed, a 20-year-old southsider, is among the select few who did both. He is one of only two Indiana residents who did.
As a result, he’ll leave his job as a lifeguard at Baxter YMCA in March to begin training to follow the naval footsteps of his grandfather and brother, who inspired his choice.
“It came from my grandfather. He was World War II Navy. He was in the Pacific, so he saw quite a bit of action. He’s a kamikaze survivor. He’s been through hell and back,” Reed said.
“My brother kind of gave me some push toward joining Special Forces because of what they have to offer compared to other jobs.”
The career of his other grandfather, Korean War Army veteran Walter Reed, was also a factor in determining his future, Joey Reed said.
A Perry Meridian High School graduate, Reed’s desire to become a special operator is borne from his family’s naval tradition and his own commitment to physical training.
Initially, he attended Marian University on a track scholarship. But he transferred to Ivy Tech Community College after his freshman year for specialized firefighter training — all the while maintaining a disciplined workout regimen that would pay off when he decided to join the Navy and pursue special operations.
His job at the YMCA gives him access to the facility’s gym and swimming pool. He spends two hours each day lifting, running and swimming. And his workout partner is someone he knows quite well: his grandfather, Melvin Everling.
Everling served aboard the USS Harding during the height of World War II action in the Pacific. He fought in the Battle of Okinawa in 1945 and survived a Japanese kamikaze attack on the ship.
Today, at age 88, he works out three times a week with Reed at the YMCA. Delighted his grandsons are carrying on the family’s naval tradition, Everling applauds Reed for putting in the advance work for training and for being a workout partner.
“I’m proud of both my grandsons for joining the Navy,” Everling said. “(Joey) has a lot to look forward to, and it will be a great adventure.”
Reed, a member of a World War II round table discussion group that meets on the southside, can’t wait for the adventure to start. Participating in the round table discussions, which often include veterans of America’s most recent wars and victims of war, only boosts his desire to serve.
“People from Germany have come over, and they’ve talked about how the U.S. military helped save their lives. It just made me want to help make a difference,” Reed said.
“That’s why I wanted Special Ops, because they’re a little more in-depth than some of the other jobs in the military.”
He looks forward to all aspects of what lies ahead, from training to service, and above all embraces the opportunity to serve his country — particularly in a specialized way. He’s already gotten through a difficult part: the required testing. Candidates have to complete a physical screening test consisting of the following:
Swim 500 yards in 13 minutes or less, then rest 10 minutes.
Perform 50 push-ups in two minutes or less, rest two minutes.
Perform 50 sit-ups in two minutes or less, rest two minutes.
Perform six pull-ups, rest 10 minutes.
Run 1.5 miles in 12 minutes or less.
Reed, who trains twice a week with SEAL scouts at the University of Indianapolis, passed on his first attempt in June. Many candidates never pass.
“I was thankful enough to get picked up within the first months (of joining the Navy),” Reed said. “There’s guys who have been there months and months and months, and they still haven’t got picked up yet.”
On March 21, he will report to the Naval Special Warfare Prep School in Naval Station Great Lakes near Chicago for eight weeks of basic training. After that, he’ll undergo 10 weeks of basic crewman training in San Diego, followed by 17 weeks of crewman qualification training in San Diego.
At each stage, the physical challenges increase dramatically.
“They push you to the limits on everything. I’ve been trying to get ready for that. I’ve read books, watched YouTube videos about training. It all just excites me,” he said.
“The physical part, I feel like I’m going to be all right with that.”
According to the Navy, Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewmen “are specially trained to operate on and around rivers and coastal regions around the world. Wielding extreme firepower and a deadly skill set, SWCC operators support special warfare/special operations missions as well as conduct direct action and special reconnaissance missions of their own.”
Like all Special Forces in all military branches, they can be called into action anywhere in the world, at any time, to perform the sort of dangerous missions that are part of action films. But Reed understands what he’s signed up for isn’t Hollywood. It’s real-world service and sacrifice, and like his grandfather and brother before him, he embraces the opportunity to serve.
“I’m ready to leave now. I’ve been working out for a very long time getting ready for this. You could be sent out anywhere around the globe at any time of the day. That’s kind of exciting for me. It’s the real deal. We go in hot,” he said.
“Usually, they don’t call us to go pick somebody up. Usually, there’s going to be some firepower going in.”
Name: Joey Reed
Occupation: Lifeguard, Baxter YMCA; has joined the U.S. Navy and will begin training next year to become a Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewman
High school: Perry Meridian
Personal: Parents, Daryl and Angel Reed; older brother, Nate, a special ops rescue diver in the U.S. Navy; grandfather, Melvin Everling, a World War II U.S. Navy veteran
About Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewmen
SWCC operators are specially trained to operate on and around rivers and coastal regions around the world. Possessing extreme firepower and a deadly skill set, they support special warfare and special operations missions and conduct direct action and special reconnaissance missions.
SWCC operators can expect to:
- Insert and extract U.S. Navy SEALS and other Special Operations personnel from naval surface warfare vessels.
- Collect information data about enemy military installations and shipping traffic in coastal areas.
- Assist other military and civilian law enforcement agencies.
- Operate independently or integrate with other U.S. Special Operations or within U.S. Navy carrier and expeditionary strike groups.
- Perform direct action raids against enemy shipping and waterborne traffic.
Source: U.S. Navy