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Archive for the ‘Navy’ Category

A weekend nonfiction book review.  Because even Pastors need a break from heavy theological readings.

Mitch Weiss.  The Heart of Hell: The Untold Story of Courage and Sacrifice in the Shadow of Iwo Jima.  New York, NY: Penguin Group, March 1st 2016. 432 pp.

5 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon

This book tells the story of a Navy craft on the eve of the Marines’ landing on the island of Iwo Jima.  It is not a story of the small boat per se (the craft is Landing Craft Infantry 449) but the stories of the men who make up the crew of Landing Craft Infantry 449.  This is the first naval history book I read of World War Two as an adult.  I certainly enjoyed it and learned a lot from it in terms of human nature, war and humanity.  In this review I want to first note the helpful format of the book and then discuss the content of the book itself.

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Another weekend, another weekend leisure reading review.

thomas-jefferson-and-the-tripoli-pirates

Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger. Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates.  New York, NY: Sentinel, November 3rd 2015. 238 pp.

5 out of 5

I remember as a kid reading old books on Marine Corps history that talked about a conflict I rarely hear people talked about in which the Marines was at the tip of the spear waging a war against Barbary Pirates in the Mediterranean and North Africa in the early part of the 1800s.  It sounded so exotic and I was fascinated with how the United States’ Navy and Marines as small as they were back then went about trying to execute their mission despite limited manpower and military capabilities.  It was during a time when the United States was still a new country and the leaders of the US was still trying to figure out what to do and how to do it.  So I am glad that over two decades later I came across this book on the United States response to the Tripoli pirates.

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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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To purchase the book on Amazon, Click HERE

This is an interesting biography of a naval war hero during the American War of Independence.  Being in the military I have heard his name thrown around but know next to nothing about him.  I imagine I’m not the only one.  So I thought I give this book a read and since I didn’t know what to expect from his rather interesting life there were moments in the book I was left in suspense since I didn’t know what the outcome would be!  One doesn’t get such thrills often with historical biography.  John Paul Jones is indeed an interesting figure and I’m struck by some of the parallel between him and another contemporary (in) famous military figure: Benedict Arnold.  Like Arnold, John Paul Jones was militarily ambitious and climbs the ranks from the bottom not through nobility but by proven service.  Both men’s daringness brought them military victories and both were driven by fame—and set them up for disappointments when Congress or other officials didn’t appreciate their deeds.  Both men also led American forces against the British outside the boundaries of the colonies—and in the case of Jones, he struck fear off the coast of the United Kingdom.  Whereas Arnold later betrayed his country, Jones stayed the course with the Continental Navy.  The most interesting chapter in Jones’ life was when he later joined the Russian Navy.  It was interesting to read of an American Naval war hero in the court of Catherine II.  Eventually the jealousy, language barrier and the difference of naval warfare led to disagreement and conflict between Jones and those in the Russian Navy.  Jones left Russia a bitter man.  Personally, after reading the book there were lessons for life that I took away from reading this book that capture the human condition (which is the same then as now):  First, ambition for success don’t always succeed.  Second, even if there is success, it might not turn out to be the way one planned it.  Thirdly, the end of John Paul Jones’ life made me realized how fleeting it is to pursue human glory and praises of others—because one can’t control what others think of us, or even acknowledging one’s success.  John Paul Jones would have been a forgotten American hero in later generation if it wasn’t for Teddy Roosevelt who many decades later was searching for a Naval War hero to develop a Naval tradition to pitch his strategic vision of a large Navy to the American people.  Overall this is a great book in capturing the good, the bad and the ugly but ultimately the very human side of a famous naval hero.

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This is part of my attempt of reviewing non-Christian, non-theological books in light of a biblical worldview.

War on the Waters Union and Confederate Navies

(Available on Amazon)

After listening to lectures over at Mises Institute on the economics of the Civil War I became more intrigued with the role of the Navy and the embargo’s contribution to the defeat of the South by the North. This book is more of the operational side of the Naval war between the south and the North. Since I am reading this book in light of my Christian worldview, I can’t help but to realize that the outcome of any battle is never certain even if on paper it looks good–victory of any battle truly rest in the hands of the Lord as the book of Proverbs teaches. Nevertheless I did appreciate this work and it’s profile of the men who served on both sides, their bravery, leadership, motivation and skill in Naval warfare. The most intriguing part of the book was the author’s observation of how the US Navy had more percentage of African Americans than the Army and of course in contrast with their Southern counterpart; the book goes on to say that due to the condition of fighting on ship that makes segregation difficult, one see among those in the Navy experiencing a change of heart where service members began seeing African Americans more favorably than those in the other services (since units were often segregated). The author even had accounts of Northern Naval Officers who were pro-slavery and Aristocratic shifting their views after serving alongside “Contrabands” (the term during the war for freed slaves). Reading this as a Christian, one is reminded of the fact that though there are different ethnicity yet God has made us all as humans–and that being human the human condition we share with those of other groups are at times surprisingly the same though the context might differ.  The other fascinating part of the book is the fact that I’m reminded of how the human condition is still the same back then as it is now: every era has their incompetent officers, leaders who exercise poor judgement in warfare, hardships, fog of war, etc. At the end of the day this was a good recreational read that takes my mind off of ministry reading and apologetics.

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Besides apologetics and theology, the bloggers here on Veritas Domain share the same background with things in the military.  So I thought it is fitting to review this work.

Purchase: Amazon

I could not believe how fast I read the book–I could not put it down and finished within 24 hours while finishing my prep for a sermon and sunday school (I’m a preacher). This is the autobiography of the nation’s top sniper with the most confirmed kill in history, by Navy Seal Sniper Chris Kyle. This is not the pansy book and movie “Jarhead” by Anthony Swafford or whatever his name is…Chris Kyle is the real deal. I have not read any military book in a long time, and what makes this work different than others is the fact that this guy is talking about a war and country that has defined the last decade and our generation. Well, some portion of our generation I should say. For those who have been there, readers will be amazed at God’s providence in having the author being engaged in combat over every bad parts of Iraq–Nasariyah, Fallujah, Ramadi, Bahgdad and the slums of Sadr City. Readers must be cautioned that the author does write with profanity. But there is something that I am drawn with Kyle’s story– his humility, his honesty in describing situations that reveal that SEALs are very human just like other fighting force, and his stories of the men around him. He begins the book with a bit of his upbringing and like most SEAL books, his experience with BUD/S (though he keeps it brief). Reading his account makes me realize I would never even try out for BUD/S and glad that there are men who would actually go through that massive pain for six months to even try out to be a SEAL. Unlike other SEALs book out there, I thought an interesting twist was the angle that Kyle took was the family aspect. He talks about the toll four deployments had on his wife, and new family, and even something I’ve never seen in any other SEALs or sniper books: The wife contributes to the book by writing about her perspective! Pimple faced teenage SEALs wannabes might not appreciate it, but those more older and mature–or have served in the military in general or have loved ones in the service would appreciate this angle that Kyle’s book took. One of the reason that I’m so drawn to the book is that this is a book about our times, and our generation–like anyone who has lived in the post 9/11 world, Kyle talks about that day hearing it in the news and how that affected him, and readers will probably think back of their own moments with 9/11 as well. It also describe an amazing warrior who went four tours to the war in Iraq, that shaped so much of the last decade’s politics and lives of many fine men and women. Prior to the invasion of Iraq, I have always treasured Black Hawk Down as the story of modern warfare, and whereas that book describe the 90s Clintonian wars, pseudowars and military operation short of wars (all political speak, but ask the ones who have bullets flying over them!), then this book has defined the account of modern warfare in the early 2000s. I have to say that personally for me, the author has brought back a lot of emotions, memories and spirit I had as a Marine, with his humour and account of things. Of course, I realize Marines are not SEALs but my greatest respects goes to the SEALs for the things they go through is so much more tougher than anything else out there. His stories about serving alongside Marines and Army soldiers moves me much, and I am so glad for the countless lives Kyle has saved. Throughout the book the theme of which priority to take (God, Country then Family vs God, Family then Country) makes this more than just a book of bagging terrorists and fanactics, it is the story of the dire human condition and value in patriotism, faith, service and love. Very moving. I highly recommend it especially for those veterans and those veterans who are injured, to be inspired and seeing life after the military.

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There’s probably hundreds of videos like this on Youtube of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines coming back home surprising their loved ones.

No matter how many times you may see this, I think it has a way of moving you; to see a young love one loss all sense of their surrounding, all their dreams come true, all their worries finally ended, their loved one gone from them being now present…their father is before them and nothing else matters as they run to embrace the father they loved and missed…

It makes me think about this worship song and our relationship with God…

One day I will be before the throne of God, which is made possible because of what Jesus has done…one day you will before the Father too and the question is whether you would long for His presence or be utter terror in your sins…

Fortunately, God has sent His Son to die for our sins…to redeem us, and give us eternal life by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.  God did not just give us eternal life; He has also work through the Spirit in regenerating those who are saved, in the process of forming our will to love Him and anticipate Him one day…

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