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Archive for the ‘Navy Seals’ Category

A weekend nonfiction audio book review…because Pastors also need a break from reading and also for you staying at home in light of the Corona Virus…

 

William H. McRaven. Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations.  New York, NY: Hachette Book Group, June 21st 2019. 10 hours 18 minutes 39 seconds.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

What is it like being the longest serving Navy SEAL commando and an Admiral of the Navy Seals and other Special Operations Forces?  This book is a memoir of Admiral McRaven whom most people probably know for his leadership of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) that pulled off the mission that target Bin Laden.  There’s not a lot of SEALs that picked up the rank of admiral and I believe he’s the second SEAL that achieved that rank.  This audio book is read by the author himself and looks back not only with his Navy career but also his childhood and a look at the men and women who have served and risked their life and at times died in serving in the military.

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A weekend reading review…because sometimes Pastors need a break from heavy reading also.

Brandon Webb.  Mastering Fear: A Navy SEAL’s Guide. New York, NY: Penguin Group, August 7th 2018. 221 pp.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

How do you handle fear?  If you want to learn about handling fear from someone who has had a career of dealing with risky situations and fear then this book would be for you.  The author of this book is Brandon Webb.  Webb is a former Navy SEAL.  He’s not only a Navy SEAL, a combat veteran (one tour in Iraq, one tour in Afghanistan) but also a sniper instructor for the SEALs who have trained famous SEAL warriors such as Chris Kyle (the top American sniper in history) and Marcus Luttrell, the lone survivor of Operation Redwing in 2005.  From his experience and also his reflection he’s written this book about handling fear.

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In light of Memorial Day.

Jocko Willink.  Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win.  New York, NY: Saint Martin’s Press, October 20th 2015. 320 pp.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

How well do you own up to your own fault and flaws?  Do you often blame other people and your circumstance when you should be admitting your own fault?  This was a good book on leadership by a combat leader in the Navy SEALS.  It wasn’t only just a good book on leadership; it was also a good book of how to be under leaders as well.  The title of the book captures the subject of the material well; it is a book on taking personal responsibility of what you do.  Taking responsibility is a big important mark of a good leader versus a bad leader.

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I know for many summer vacation is around the corner so here’s my review of two military books for your summer travel…and also because Pastors also need a break from heavy theological reading!

For other suggestions check out also our previous post “2017 Memorial Day Weekend Lists of Recommended Readings.”

Robert O’Neill.  The Operator: Firing the Shots that Killed Osama bin Laden and My Years as a SEAL Team Warrior. New York, NY: Scribner, April 3rd 2018. 368 pp.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

This is a book by the Navy SEAL who shot Osama Bin Laden.  This book not only tell the story of the mission to go after Bin Laden but also Robert O’Neill’s upbringing in Montana, how he joined the Navy and made it into the SEALs.  A fascinating book of a fascinating individual.

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This CBS’ 60 Minutes Documentary on the Navy SEALs rescue of Jessica Buchanan was quite emotional at the end of the video when they had her share in her own words.  It shows the incredible sacrifice of some of our elite warriors in the Special Operations Community going all out to rescue a hostage even to the risk of their own life.

Of course I can’t watch something like this without being very moved emotionally.  I try to imagine what its like to be in her shoe, to be alive when one might have counted one’s life dead.

I can imagine a bit of the gratitude she must have for these warriors.  It’s no surprised that when I went on Youtube I also found that she recently spoke of her experience in support of the Navy SEAL foundation.

That got me thinking tangent to another rescue operation.

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In light of the upcoming fifth year anniversary of the Bin Laden raid, I review this book for this weekend’s reading recommendation.

SEAL Target Geronimo

Chuck Pfarrer. SEAL Target Geronimo: The Inside Story of the Mission to Kill Osama bin Laden.  New York, NY: Saint Martin’s Press, November 8th, 2011. 240 pp.

At first I wasn’t sure of whether or not I should read this book, having read other works surrounding the mission that killed Bin Laden especially the work No Easy Day.  I was glad that I read it because this book definitely manage to contribute to the conversation of what happened that day.  What makes this book unique is that this book was written by a former SEAL who interviewed the SEALs operators involved with the Bin Laden raid.  From these interviews the author attempt to synthesize all the accounts from the SEALs (some of which the author admit were conflicting) in order to give a better narrative of what happened that day.

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Yesterday Navy SEAL Edward Byers received his medal of honor.

I get emotional seeing these things.

The Christian missionary doctor they rescued has written his story in a book that I have reviewed here: Kidnapped By the Taliban by Dilip Joseph.

 

 

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I’m still posting book reviews from my Memorial Day Weekend.

First Seals The Untold Story of the Forging of America S Most Elite Unit

Patrick K O Donnell.  First Seals: The Untold Story of the Forging of America’s Most Elite Unit.  Boston, MA: Da Capo Press, October 28th, 2014. 320 pp.

The title of the book could be somewhat misleading.  One might think this is a book on the early history of the US Navy SEALs which began its origin with the Navy Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT) during World War Two.  Typically most books on the history of the SEALs trace their lineage to the UDTs.  Instead this book focuses the Office of Strategic Services’ Maritime Unit (MU).  After getting over the initial expectation that this was going to be about the SEALs or the UDT the book turned out to be an amazing account of the men and the operations of Maritime Unit that was much ahead in their days of Naval commando operations even compated to their contemporary UDTs with the MU’s advance technological breathing masks, sea-to-land direct actions, parachuting capabilities, support for partisan fighters behind enemy lines, sabotage and advanced reconnaissance.  Like the modern SEALs of today the role of those in the MU were at times blurred from land and sea operations.  This book tells the incredible stories of these men that read like a novel.  The most harrowing account in the book is the story of Navy Lt. Jack Taylor who was captured by the Nazis deep within enemy lines and was sent to a concentration camp.  Taylor was marked for death many times by the Nazis but camp clerks who were made up of prisoners themselves kept on erasing his name and/or going in line ahead of him whenever the Nazis gathered people to be killed.  Many of these European prisoners wanted Taylor to be alive so that America and Western Europe would have an American witness of the Camp’s atrocities and therefore convinced the West that the Holocaust was real.  It made me tear up seeing how those in the Concentration Camp can act almost like animals in survival mode but somehow in the midst of the all the salvage brutality the all too human concern for truth and justice manage to come out.  This is an incredibly good book.

Purchase: Amazon

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Note I am reviewing this book in light of it being a Memorial Day holiday.  I am thankful and indebt to the men and women who have died defending our country.No Hero Mark Owen

Mark Owen. No Hero: The Evolution of a Navy SEAL.  New York, NY: Penguin Group, May 20th, 2014. 304 pp.

The author was among the SEALs who participated in the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden.  I have previously read and reviewed his earlier controversial book titled No Easy Day that gave his firsthand account of the famous raid.  In this second book the author moves beyond Operation Neptune and covers his story including his personal childhood growing up in Alaska and his determination to be a SEAL at an early age.  The book also covered his decade plus experience of being a SEAL operator.  This is a book that will make the readers appreciate the fact that there are men defending our country and stand in the line of fire against evil men around the world.

The book opens up with a prologue titled “Forty Names.”  Here he tells us about him being home and hearing about the helicopter containing another squadron of SEAL Team Six that was shot down  not too long after the Bin Laden raid.  I thought this opening was a sobering reminder that what one is about to read is not just some fictional adventure but true stories of the men who risked it all in defense of our country.

The chapters in the book were written in such a way as to impart to the readers lessons the author learn that was also relevant for everyday life.  As someone who was in the Marines and never liked height the best chapter that stuck with me is chapter three on fear in which Owen tells us of his rock climbing training in Nevada.  Owen is also someone who does not like heights and during the rock climbing exercise he experienced a moment in which he froze.  The civilian “billy goat” instructor climbed over to him and gave him an advice that changed his life: Don’t look at the things that he can’t control but rather stay “in your three foot world.”  Focus on the things that you can have some control over.  This helped him not only with his immediate rock climb but also other areas of life in the SEALs.  I thought this was very helpful for life in general!

I also enjoyed his chapter on the importance of communication in which he talked about after action report and how that helped the SEALs community to implement lessons learned.  He also had a good chapter about accountability and relationships.  I loved how he described the closeness of his SEAL team and contrasted that with the one mission he went alone with the CIA in Pakistan and just how much displeasure he had with the CIA’s culture of everyone for himself and the politics within that agency.

Also interesting was his chapter on compartmentalization towards the end of the book in which he talked about killing.  He shares about how after many so many deployments soon he was having difficulties sleeping when he came back home and felt the need to go to his SEAL locker cage to prep his gear for the next mission.  His account of being alert for danger and the messed up thing he saw is something other combat veterans could relate to and I thought it was important he shared this so that over veterans who were not with Special Operations Forces can realize that they too are humans (though of course tough ones).

Read this to appreciate the men and women who serve—especially those who were in combat and those in combat with Special Operation Forces such as the SEALs.

Purchase: Amazon

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Seal Team Six Howard Wasdin

Howard E. Wasdin and Stephen Templin. Seal Team Six: Memoirs of An Elite Navy Seal Sniper.  New York, NY:
St. Martin’s Griffin, 2012. 331 pp.

This is a memoir of a member of the Navy Seals counterterrorism team called DEVGRU or popularly known as Seal Team Six.  The author served pre-9/11 during the 80s and 90s.  At first I wasn’t sure if I was going to be interested but I was surprised as I was read through the book with how much action and real world operations that the author did participate in.  Like most books of the SEAL autobiography genre the book tells us about the author’s childhood and then entrance into the Navy.  As a pastor I thought it was interesting to read of the author’s account of the role of strong men in his life as an influence from the church he attended.  The book goes on to have stories about BUD/S, the rigorous six months selection program a candidate must past before they are accepted into the Seals operational teams.  What set this book apart from the others is the fact that the author gives us an account of the Navy Seals Team Six during the years after its founding by its first commander Richard Marcinko and the post-9/11 era.  Unlike the two eras before and after it, the time period of the 90s is not the subject of most books.

The author participated in the First Gulf War and gave his account of missions infiltrating deep into Iraq.  He was also involved with a take down of a vessel in the Persian Gulf.  Because of his experience and involvement more than other Seals including those in his teams the author Howard Wasdin was able to enter Seal Team Six even though he was much younger and has less years under his belt compare to the typical Seal that applied for this special team.  Wasdin later became one of the top snipers in Seal Team Six.  I love his many stories of training missions and also training with other forces including the Australians and the competition between other US special operation forces.

The most harrowing part of the book is Wasdin’s account of combat in Somalia.  Any readers who have read Black Hawk Down would appreciate the first hand account by Wasdin of the Battle of Mogadishu.  In the book Black Hawk Down the four Seals in that operation was only mentioned briefly in the beginning of the book with the funny account of how one of the Seal’s bowie knife stopped a bullet.  Wasdin’s account gives us more of a picture of how intense the fighting was that day.  Wasdin’s sniping operation helped protected the lives of Delta Force operators and Army Rangers.  Unfortunately Wasdin was seriously wounded during the battle.  The book’s other sad moment was when the author’s marriage ended up in a divorce.  I can’t help but to think of how many Special Operation Forces operators’ marriage often become a casualty due to their husband’s training and deployment schedules.  It prompted me to pray for the marriages of those serving our country.  It also made me prayed for these men to know the Lord Jesus Christ as they emulate Jesus’ example of willingness to lay down their lives for others.

Purchase: Amazon

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Editor’s Note: I (“SlimJim”) am away in a family trip and this is a pre-scheduled post. cover50589-medium

ORDER NOW ON AMAZON!

This is the fascinating first hand account of an American Christian doctor doing work in Afghanistan who was kidnapped by the Taliban in 2012.  Dalip Joseph is an American of Indian descent (as in the country, not Native Americans) who has a heart for Afghanistan and made multiple trips there before he was kidnapped on December 5th, 2012.  A few days later Joseph was rescued in a daring raid by the US Navy SEALs.  Unfortunately the SEAL point man was killed during the operation.  What I found most interesting in the book is the authors’ description of the Taliban—the author does have some sympathy with some of his kidnappers and they even have discussion about America.  It is intriguing to see the human side of the lower level members of the Taliban.  Probably the most unusual part to the reader is the level of hospitality shown to Joseph by the Taliban, but this must be viewed in light of the fact that hospitality is built in within the Afghan culture.  Readers must make no mistake that the Taliban is an evil force out there when we are reminded in the book that one of the Taliban was nicknamed Butcher for the obvious reason for what he does to hostage while another Taliban was suppose to be the suicide bomber using the vehicle that Joseph was captured in.  The book was also personally enjoyable for me to read given his references to Southern California with places that I am familiar with; he’s a local guy!   As someone who is fascinated with reading the book for the military side of things, there’s also a remarkable account of when a Taliban commander giving a phone to Joseph to call a certain number to negotiate for money but it ended up being intercepted by the US and Joseph ended up talking to the US military who told him that they had eyes on him.  Talk about incredible (and frightening)!  The Taliban commander later asked him who did he talked to and Joseph told him he does not know—after all wasn’t the Taliban commander who gave him the number?  Fortunately the ordeal was for a few days and the SEALs came in to rescue him.  Because of the book’s discussion about the different guys and their personality, you get the sense that Joseph was sadden to see lives being killed—yet he understood that they went in to rescue him.  If you have ever read In the Presence of My Enemies of another Christian couple that parallel this hostage crisis with Islamic terrorist, you would like this book as well.  The book was such an interesting read that I read it all in one day.  The only concern I had with this book is the lack of the discussion about how does the Gospel applied to his situation.  There is no mention by the author to the Taliban that he was a Christian though he did say that he believed in the true God.  It hit me really hard thinking about how those Taliban next to him went to a Christ-less eternity.  Sobering actually.  With all the news of growing Jihadist movements and events in the Middle East with Christians, this is a timely account.  I recommend it.

NOTE: This book was provided to me free by Thomas Nelson—W Publishing and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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On a Saturday before Veteran’s Day, what better read for our country’s latest military veterans than a work that relates to our decade plus war–Osama Bin Laden.

Manhunt Bin Laden

This a thoroughly well researched book by a CNN journalist who was able to interview Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan during the 1990s.  Despite the raid to kill Osama being perhaps the biggest news of our decade, much of the back story is still little known by the general public.  The author did a good job telling the story of the ten year search for the world’s most wanted man, focusing mainly on the characters of politicians, high ranking military officers and senior level intelligence officials.  Unfortunately, you won’t be able to find a “grunt’s view” of the SEALs who did the actual operation, and to date No Easy Day is the only raiders’ account.  But the story of the hunt for Osama Bin Laden goes further back in time, before the first SEAL step on Osama’s compound that fateful day in 2011.  What this book did well was describing the difficulties, personalities and dedication of those involved in the hunt of Bin Laden.

Prior to this book I was not aware that the infamous event of the biggest loss of CIA officers and contractors a few years back in Aghanistan was part of the team hunting Osama.  The author captured the determination of the team after this incident, making the hunt very personal with the deaths of their colleagues:  Some even decided not to move on to other tasks in the CIA, forgoing advancement in their careers in order to be part of the mission.

Of course the telling of the 10 year hunt for Osama also has some of its disappointment and frustration such as Bin Laden’s escape in Tora Bora, with much of what we know about it coming from the Delta Force commander on the ground name “Dalton Fury.”

From this book I also changed my view of General McChrystal, which I had a rather negative view of in the past.  Through the book, I got to appreciate McChrystal’s contribution in enhancing the capabilities of our country’s special operation forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, which indirectly contributed to the success during the operation to raid Osama’s compound.

The book also captures the political aftermath of the raid, in particular the relationship with Pakistan.  You don’t have to like Obama as president to appreciate the incredible difficulty the man has to face and the responsibility before him.

If there is a criticism I have with the book it is with with the author’s epilogue and his confidence that Al Qaeda is dying down.  While I believe Al Qaeda has suffered much strategic defeat in the last few years, I think it’s also evolving to become a more dangerous, de-centralized entity that makes it harder to track and combat.  And we’re not even beginning to consider copy cats, lone wolves and other like minded terrorists groups such as the Taliban.  Think of Major Hasan, Boston Marathon bombing and Bengazi.

Radical Islam is a threat and the author thinks that it can’t be compared to the threat of the Nazis and Communism since it doesn’t effect Europe like the way both ideologies have in the past.  My question is, why is what is going on in Europe the measure of what is dangerous?  September 11th itself was an attack on America.  My second question to the author would be whether or not he has considered the incredible growth rates of Islam in Europe already and it’s growing problems with the West’s multiculturalism?

I did get emotional reading about the day Americans found out about the raid, how CIA director left the White House surprised to hear the cheers of a spontaneous American crowd celebrating the news.  Since 2001, for over a decade America has been at war since 9/11.  It’s not only Afghanistan and Iraq but all around the globe from the Philippines to Africa.  Some of those lives lost or injured are those I served with or have known.  Like many people, it’s the memory of that day watching the news on September 11th, 2001 that the death of Bin Laden has brought some closure.  Of course complete justice will be with God one day but sometimes he allows “poetic justice” to take place this side of eternity in this case.

Definitely a worthwhile book.

Order it on Amazon!

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Want to find a book to read this July Fourth Weekend?

I couldn’t stop putting this book down and finished it in one sitting (one day).

Fearless Adam Brown

Purchase: Amazon

An emotional biography of a SEAL TEAM SIX operator name Adam Brown, who was killed in August 2011. An incredible story: I don’t think I’ve ever read such a real and powerful account of drug addiction than I did in this book (which is worth buying the book in of itself) and how he failed so many times; yet, it’s also a story of faith and how Jesus Christ changed his life around, and through him others as well. Based upon interviews of SEALs, family members and his widowed wife, it is also balanced with official Navy record. Adam Brown was an incredible man of God, American, SEAL and human being. His battle with the inner demons of drugs, his entrance into the SEALs despite his small size is already itself an incredible story in it’s own right: But then we also learned that Adam Brown went on to try out and selected for SEAL SNIPER and a member of DEVGRU/SEAL TEAM 6 (the tier one outfit that got Bin Laden) despite the disadvantage of losing an eye and crushing his dominant hand (which he had to resort to shooting with his weak hand). I appreciated how this book shared so much about the wife’s journey as a NAVY wife, and how it was with the loss of her husbands with her kids. It’s indeed a story of faith but the author does a good job of showing how faith doesn’t sugar coat the harsh realities of this world: from disappointments and failure of kicking a drug addictions, the imperfection of believers, and the mystery of why God allow some to die and others to live. Reading this as a father of a one year old and a three month old, i can’t help tearing up especially towards the end of the book. As I have said in my reviews of other SEALs book, I believe every American ought to read a book like this–especially considering the small percentage today of those who serve. You would get a better picture and a deeper appreciation for the sacrifice of those who served and their families since 9/11. I highly recommend this book.

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Chris Kyle Navy Seals

Part of the reason why I’m making a post on this news story is due to the fact that those of us on Veritas Domain have strong sentiments with the military, and some of us have served in the US military.  Chris Kyle was a Navy SEALs sniper who also happened to have the most confirmed kill in US history, and was engaged in every single major conflict in Iraq this last decade.  I have previously reviewed his autobiography on this blog previously before HERE.

Yesterday, milliblogs lit up with news of his murder.  Here’s the story on this tragedy from ABC NEWS:

Eddie Ray Routh, 25, is the alleged suspect.

Eddie-Ray-Routh-killer

While details are sketchy it seems that he was shot by a former Marine in the back.  When I heard the news I was rather shocked.  Chris Kyle is a real life American hero and the reason why I like him so much is because of his strong love for his family evident in his book and also his love for the average soldier, Marines and sailors he was protecting with his sniper role.

Even being out of the military he tried to help Marine veterans who had Post Tramatic Stress Disorder according to the reputable milliblog SOF REP.

What a tragedy.  Shot by the very person he was trying to help.  The risk that Chris Kyle took to help…

I can’t help but to think about another Person who risked His life to save the very people that are His enemies–Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13)

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NOTE FOR November 13th, 2012: For a limited time, download it for free on KINDLE by clicking HERE.

As I’ve stated in other reviews before, 2012 is the year of Navy SEALs autobiography and perhaps the Osama Bin Laden raid by DEVGRU might have had something to do with this sudden market and interests concerning the Navy SEALs. This is an autobiography of a Navy SEAL that became a Christian, though the book begins with the author’s high school days of teenage rebellion and silliness. I was surprised how much he spent in the book for that portion of his life. Then it turned towards the direction of how the author wanted to be a SEAL, his parents opposition, which led his dad hiring Scott Helvenston to physically train Chad Williams to be ready for the SEALs. For those who know anything about the SEALs, the name Scott Helvenston should ring a bell, since he was one of the youngest member to join the Navy SEALs at age 17 that became well known for the infamous incident in Fallujah when he and three other security contractors were brutally killed on March 31st, 2004. That event prompted a serious Marine assault on the city that April. Williams describe his sadness of the news of the lost of his mentor days before he left for the Navy, then goes on with his experience going through BUD/S. You wouldn’t want to put this book down; every SEALs biography about Hell Week and BUD/S makes me glad that there are some really tough men out there serving to protect our country and national interests. For a man so determine to be a SEAL, the author describes his sudden depression after having arrived at being a SEAL and his life’s downward direction before coming to Christ a crusade by Greg Laurie. This conversion led a radical shift in his life and the chapter on him being picked on and physically assaulted by members of his platoon was an unexpected turn in the book. It reminds us that being a Christian light in the military sometimes is it’s own war zone for the Christian. His tour in Iraq was mentioned only towards the end of the book. As I read this book I realized just how young this author is and how grateful I am for men like him who served in such a capacity as being a SEAL. I appreciate and was encouraged by his evangelistic zeal, nevertheless I am hoping that he grow deeper and deeper in the WORD of God as he ministers to people (not that I have doubts that he’s not, but just praying that he will grow). Too often we can see the Evangelical world be obsessed with young heroes and role models and set them up to fail when we don’t equally pray for them more than praise them. Again, this is a good autobiography and I read it under 24 hours because I can’t put it down and head to read late into the night and early morning

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