“In times of war or uncertainty there is a special breed of warrior ready to answer our Nation’s call; a common man with uncommon desire to succeed. Forged by adversity, he stands alongside America’s finest special operations forces to serve his country and the American people, and to protect their way of life. I AM THAT MAN.” – Excerpt from the Navy SEAL Code.
Imagine a man who recognizes that he is an ordinary man, “a common man with an uncommon desire to succeed.” For him and others like him, there is a desire born inside that grows in the blood, in the veins, pumping through the heart for years. This desire grows into a calling. It’s this sense of purpose, this overwhelming commitment to the calling that carries a man through the physical challenges he encounters on the road to becoming one of the elite, a Navy SEAL.
Even though the legend of SEAL training has attained near mythological status, very few of us actually understand what it takes to be a SEAL. The first of many hallmarks is BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition / SEAL) training, an experience designed to be the most brutal of tests. BUD/S is a trial of physical strength, yes, but it is also a test of how deep the calling is. It is the calling that stiffens his spine when failure would be a relief. It is the calling that keeps him from giving in and laying his helmet down and ringing the bell of resignation.
It starts with a calling but a man under the fire of such tests cannot nourish himself on a dream alone. As training continues, a bond builds between the men who share the same calling and suffer the same crucibles day in and day out. Their backgrounds may differ, but their sense of purpose is united and they bear witness to the struggle, the failures, and the triumphs that come with SEAL training. And so the team is born. Country and team. The SEAL lives and dies for his country and his team.
Each SEAL team member lives by a code. The SEAL Code talks about a special breed of warrior who is “forged by adversity” and who “serves with honor.” A man who vows, “never to quit” and a man for whom “uncompromising integrity” is the standard, the SEAL draws inspiration from the “proud tradition” and the “legacy of (his) teammates.” The SEAL Code asserts, “My loyalty to Country and Team is beyond reproach.” For the SEAL, country and team are tangible, living and breathing reasons to fight with honor and uncompromising perseverance. When a SEAL accepts the SEAL Trident, he accepts the weight of the responsibility that comes with it. He “voluntarily accepts the inherent hazards” of the profession and understands that he must place “the welfare and security of others” before his own. SEALs do not seek recognition for their service and it is this quiet leadership, this unwavering selflessness that defines a SEAL.
A man called to be a SEAL understands the fact that he may die serving his country. He also understands that the road to that ultimate sacrifice will surely be lined with many day-to-day sacrifices. The moments, large and small, that give shape to a life—the birth of his children, the triumphs and tribulations of his loved ones, the illnesses—may be but an echo in his life. His commitment to the cause may mean that he will miss so many of those things that the rest of us consider essential—the firsts: the birth of his first child, the first steps, the first words, the first bloody nose, the first heartbreak. And even though, the SEAL knows that his commitment to country and team must come first, his one regret will be the impact his calling might have on his family. And still, he is that “common man with uncommon desire to succeed… to serve his country and the American people and to protect their way of life.”
On August 6th, the SEAL community and this country suffered a catastrophic loss. 17 SEALs, five members of the Navy SEAL Warfare Team, and eight other brave men in support roles gave their lives to protect others. These honorable men join 49 other SEALs who have died since 9/11 and many other men and women who selflessly serve our country. In the ten years since al Qaeda attacked America, this country has asked even more of its SEALs: long and recurring deployments as well as intensified training schedules. The SEALs who have died since 9/11 have made the ultimate sacrifice as have their families. These men were sons, husbands, and fathers. But they were also SEALs who lived to serve.
“Brave men have fought and died building this proud tradition and feared reputation that I am bound to uphold. In the worst conditions, the legacy of my teammates steadies my resolve and silently guides my every deed. I WILL NOT FAIL.” – excerpt from the Navy SEAL Code.
Remembering all those whose lives were changed by 9/11/01. Many lost their lives, their loved ones, and their friends. We honor that loss today, tomorrow, and forever.
CO AUTHOR/PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE BOOK
“SEAL THE UNSPOKEN SACRIFICE”
RYAN WATERFIELD-FREELANCE WRITER
*For more information about the Navy SEALs and their sacrifice, please visit sealtheunspokensacrifice.com/.