Having been a little disappointed that my last few book recollections did absolutely nothing to the original reading commitment stack, I decided it was time to get with the program or I’ll be putting a DNF next to that goal. Those who know me should understand how angry failure makes me, so when it came time to pick a new reading subject I headed right to the stack. In honor of the recent accomplishment of SEAL Team Six in taking out a spineless terrorist living in relatively luxury compared to his brainwashed followers, I selected SEAL Team One. This book was the first effort from Dick Couch who has become one of my favorite authors. You may recall my growing collection of his with the previous Chosen Soldier post and the Down Range read. This book originally came out in 1990 to great acclaim for its authenticity to a true deployed team SEAL experience. The back cover even has an endorsement by Stephen Coonts, an author whose complete portfolio I’ve completely devoured.
Unlike the other two books from Dick, this one is more story based than the other more technical skills based offerings. The story focuses on the main character James McConnell as he progresses through the SEAL training program and first deployment to Vietnam. This is not a biographical account of Dick’s own experience in the Vietnam War (yes, he is a SEAL), but rather a composite of experiences and events of his tour along with those of his fellow SEALs deployed in the region. Unlike Dick’s other books, he went through the training experience pretty quick leaving an open canvas to paint the life of a SEAL team leader as he plans, executes and deals with the aftermath of combat missions in the jungle. The book is first person from Jim’s perspective allowing you to get the true emotions involved and probably more surprising, peeling back the layers of dirt, grime, sweat, ego and conviction to convey the fear and sadness that they must deal with in their role. As with the Lone Survivor book this read puts your supposed difficult days in perspective. It is kind of hard to get too down because your boss needs a hot report while there are soldiers crawling through the jungle in total darkness playing a game of cat and mouse with weapons capable of producing a most violent death. As I was reading about Jim’s numerous excursions up the Vietnam waterways I found my inner voice routinely asking could I do what these characters were doing, could the fire teams rely on me to make the right decisions while being chased down by VC or would I hesitate or worse freeze putting my team in further peril. I may be able to tell myself the answer to that, but the comforting fact is I’ll likely never have to find out for sure. This in part to the fact there are people out there who are willing to volunteer to put themselves in harm’s way for the safety of our country. This is definitely one of the reasons it infuriated me when I found out Disney was trying to copyright SEAL Team Six after OBL was taken out. SEALs have never asked for personal recognition of their feats yet some marketing clown thinks it would be good to slap an ear hat on their military organization.
I’ll leave details for the recollection list, but there was a personal eerie moment while reading this book. Deep into the book I was engrossed in the storyline and asked myself “where do these decisive people come from?” Three sentences later, Dick’s main characters asks the very same question. I do not know the answer to that question, but one thing is for certain, thanks to Dick Couch I have a much better understanding of what it takes to be a member of our elite fighting forces.
Hit the jump for the takeaways: