RollTide1981 - first Roll Tide! i graduated from Bama in 1992. and like you i am active duty - am USAF stationed in south florida. The Excel boat is an awesome rig. are there others better? others that are different -- just as good but the beauty in execution of what you need them to do are in the eyes of the beholder. I hunt swamps of Lake Okeechobee in south florida. i had a Gator Traxx 1854 since 2001. it did everything. i wanted an more open bow -- and wanted a few more bells and whistles (excel has a winch and a stereo). also wanted to sit down when i drove -- so this boat was perfect of me. higher sides and is more drier. semi "V" so it cuts better too in waves. wanted hydro turf and quick slick to the bottom. wanted same heavy aluminum that i need to run the stumps and trees -- we hit a lot of things. in the end, its true. you get what you pay for. so research and make an informed decision. i love my new boat and would buy it again -- just like is. becuase it does what i need it to do: run shallow, hunt 3-4 out of it, have power to get through cat tails/mud islands, be easy to trailer, have a heavy hull to withstand the pounding of the lake and not sink, be comfortable. Excel makes all this into their boat - so initial cost maybe a little higher.
best of luck - thank you for your service -- and God speed!
Git em in the deeks, keep em in the deeks...