Book Recollection: SEAL Team One

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:

Continue reading Book Recollection: SEAL Team One

Book Recollection: Chosen Soldier

Admittedly, I am a rabid reader of books covering aspects of our military.  Specifically, the various special forces.  One of the reasons is due to be very curious as to what type of individual that willingly signs up for this occupation and with that said, what it takes for them to succeed.  I like to consider myself somewhat in shape until I read what these soldiers have to do and it motivates me to do more.  It has been awhile since I had the time to actually read a book, but a few weekends ago our dogs were showing in the Teacup Dog Agility Nationals in Racine Wisconsin.  If you know anything about this event, you are aware there is a lot of down time between the runs.  This was a perfect opportunity to finish a book on my list.

Today’s book review is Chosen Soldier: The Making of a Special Forces Warrior by Dick Couch.  Without hesitation, I can declare this book is right up there with Lone Survivor which is my favorite book (if you have not read or listened to that book, do it immediately).  It also has the distinction of being a 100 fold better than the last military book I read called Warrior Soul.   A big reason for this is the author.  Mr. Couch is a former Navy Seal who was offered the opportunity to observe and write about the process of becoming a Green Beret (contrast that with the Warrior Soul which felt more like a look at me I’m great work).  It was honest, frank and most of all very informative.  I had no idea of the diverse backgrounds this military branch pulled from or its focus as “head of the spear”, tasked with going in ahead of our military might and disrupting the establishment.  They infiltrate, link up and organize local fighters and train them to take control once the military goal is achieved.    Unlike the Seals and Marines who are primarily attack forces, this branch stressed language, culture teaching, medical, engineering and adaptive thinking.  This, of course, is in addition to the elite fighting skills of the other groups.   Even Mr. Couch admitted the stunning difference which means a lot from someone trained as a Seal.

I could barely put this book down to catch the dogs’ runs.  I am completely impressed by the approach taken by the instructors and have a lot more respect for every individual to make through this ordeal and earn their tabs.  To be honest, I even respect those who try their best but find they can’t get to the required level.  As Dick quotes in the book, the Green Berets may lose a candidate in their ranks, but the reassigned branch gains a better soldier.  Those that do make it through are in my opinion as good as it gets both in conditioning, judgment and very apparent in leadership.  Once their job of protecting the interests of the United States are completed, they are more than prepared to excel in any business activity they chose to set their sights on.  My respect and gratitude to those who have earned the Green Beret.

Catch the jump for my recollections:

Continue reading Book Recollection: Chosen Soldier