I don’t normally read SEAL books but somehow this one grabbed me. I emailed the author of FEARLESS, Eric Blehm, to talk about a SOFREP radio interview. He agreed but asked if I’d read the book yet. I had to come clean and say, “No I haven’t.” I’ve done radio interviews with hosts who haven’t read my own memoir, The Red Circle, and it can sometimes be frustrating. “Well, nothing left to do but read the book,” I said to myself.
It’s a small community and there’s a thin thread that connects us both. I briefly met Adam once at our sniper training facility in Indiana. He was the crazy one-eyed SEAL who had just finished sniper school and taught himself to shoot left-handed. I wasn’t his instructor, but I’d heard all about him and what a great attitude and inspiration he was to everyone. At the time, I was the west coast Sniper Course Manager, and we were in the process of integrating east and west coast courses and consolidating training at the Indiana compound. My fellow cadre had just put Adam through the course, and they had nothing but praise for him. Your reputation in the SEAL Teams is everything. There are some guys who have a solid operational reputation, but are not liked by all their teammates. This was not Adam. He was among the rare, special breed of men who was liked by all in our community and everyone who ever came into contact with.
These special men are shaped this way by their life experiences, and Adam’s life was not an easy one. He struggled with drug addiction and a rap sheet prior to getting into the Navy, and ultimately overcame immense obstacles that lead him into the US Navy SEALs. Lessons we can all learn from.
Fearless is an amazing look into the life of a true American hero and Special Operations warrior. I know his place is secure on the second deck, as is the tradition, and it gives me comfort just thinking about it. If you don’t know what “second deck” means, it’s where the operators of DEVGRU work, a place historically reserved for warriors, and the entrance is lined by Lost Heroes.
The book touched me personally and caused me to reflect on my own journey into the SEAL Teams. I was kicked out of the house at age sixteen, the “house” in my case was a 47′ sailboat in the South Pacific. I found my way home back to California, where I worked and lived on a charter dive boat until joining the Navy. I’d grown up working on this boat since I was twelve. It was a great experience diving and surfing the remote islands off the California coast, but back at the harbor I had friends off the boat who were graduating from marijuana to heavier drugs, like Crystal Meth. My friends that I used to sail the harbor with (we had Sabots) and surf before and after school transformed themselves into junkies before my eyes. It scared the hell out of me.
I knew I had to get out of that environment, and the fear of turning into them is what nudged me to join the Navy, and to be a Navy SEAL. I’ve seen the hell of addiction and how it destroys good people. The fact that Adam overcame his addiction is a testament to himself, his family and loving wife. I’ve had my own struggles and obstacles in life but nothing like what Adam faced and overcame.
Adam’s last goodbye was chilling. My first son was born November 30th, 2001, while I was away hunting bad men in Afghanistan with SEAL TEAM THREE, so I can relate (as most military guys) to how hard it is to say goodbyes to the little ones, and how emotional it can be for everyone.
It was also haunting for me, reading personal accounts of Adam from two SEAL teammates who were both friends of mine, interviewed and quoted in the book, and later would lose their own lives. Heath Robinson (served with in ST3 ECHO) and Chris Campbell (BUD/S 215 and STT classmate). I will never forget these men.
I left the SEAL Teams as a 13-year Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer and Course Manager for one of the toughest military sniper programs in the world (The SEAL Sniper course). I get asked “Why would you leave such a great career” all the time. It’s simple: my children. Reading the book, I identified with Adam’s internal determination to leave the brotherhood and be with his wife and kids. One last deployment.
It’s a tough life to give up, and operational deployments can be drug-like in their addiction. I struggled with hanging up my gun and briefly found myself back in Iraq working as a contractor for an intelligence outfit only a year out of the Navy. That was my last deployment to Iraq. I told myself “enough,” but it’s hard to know your brothers are still in the fight while you’re back home living easy. These days my MacBook Pro has replaced my 300 Winmag sniper rifle, and I’ve found it can be just as effective.
When I finished Adam’s book tonight I admittedly teared up thinking about his family, lost brothers and my own kids. The sacrifice they have all made since 9-11 is tremendous.
This book is a gift to us all. Please go get Fearless and Never Forget.
Great job to Eric Blehm the author, and Thank You to the Brown family and Kelley for sharing Adam’s amazing story. I hugged and kissed my kids a little extra tonight because of it.