Posted by: Jacqui Murray | July 27, 2011

Book Review: SEAL Team Six

SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL SniperSEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL Sniper

by Howard E. Wasdin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

With the recent popularity of SEAL Team Six, I was a bit concerned that Howard Wasdin and Stephen Templin’s SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL Sniper (St. Martin’s Press 2011) would be a hastily constructed manuscript to play off the public’s current appetite for this Special Forces Group. I am pleased to say this book is nothing like that. It is the autobiography of a boy who grew up dirt poor, worked so hard during his childhood that BUD/S seemed no more mentally-challenging than what he faced every day simply trying to survive–albeit much more rewarding. Wasdin was beaten if he didn’t do chores perfectly, declared guilty of actions he thought he wasn’t, received no atta-boys for a job well done, and forced to act like an adult long before today’s crop of child professionals would declare him mature enough. Many might disagree with this parenting style, but Wasdin admits that his unique survival skills were nurtured in and flourished because of these lessons and became the foundation for the amazing success he experienced as a SEAL sniper (among other things, winner of a Silver Star). He credits these early lessons with the reason the most difficult words in his vocabulary were, “I quit.”

Through Wasdin, the reader sees that SEAL life isn’t the glitzy ride-to-the-rescue life we see in movies. It’s more likely to be days of numbing boredom broken up by minutes of your hair being on fire. Wasdin started with SEAL Team Two, tested into SEAL Team Six (readers get to see what that requires), then challenged himself further by becoming a SEAL sniper. His philosophy as one of the top echelon of government-sanctioned killers is if he didn’t get the bad guys first, they’d get the good guys, and when you read his stories, you are thankful we have people like him.

The book is written as Howard Wasdin’s memoir, in the first person. Templin, to co-author, knew Wasdin briefly during BUD/S, but didn’t serve with him, and the book doesn’t cover anything about Templin’s life. Templin explains briefly at the end of the book what their connection is and leaves it at that–brief.

Like all good novels, the reader gets to experience the personal growth Wasdin experiences from childhood, through his Navy/SEAL career, and then at the other end when he must adapt to the civilian world (he becomes a chiropractor). One of his most important lessons, according to Wasdin, is he learns humanity. How that happens in the midst of the war and horror of his military world, I’ll leave for your reading enjoyment. No spoilers here.

Some of my favorite parts are these:

  • he has a glossary of SEAL terms so I don’t get lost. He explains acronyms like FOB, FFP, LST, and words like Blowout kit, Thermite grenade, and Deuce-and-a-half
  • Whenever the ship’s crew saw us coming through the passageway wearing our camouflage uniforms and SEAL tridents, they said, “Make a hole, SEAL coming through.”
  • From then on out I’d be hard. Kick in every door and flashbang every room.
  • The only easy day was yesterday
  • “You son***. You’re alive!” (in context, this almost makes you cry)
  • the several scenes where the SEALs help a Somalian boy who had his legs blown off–dress his wounds, provide antibiotics, check back to be sure he’s healing
  • The morph of Wasdin from viewing the enemy as faceless to human
  • learning about Bill Rogers’s shooting academy, one of the best in the country
  • learning what SEALs specialize in as opposed to Rangers and Delta Force
  • SEALs learn to match the level of violence to the level required for the situation. No more, no less.

Jacqui Murray is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman.  She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, an Editorial Review Board member for SIGCT, an IMS tech expert, a weekly contributor to Write Anything and mother of a Naval Officer and an Army grunt. Currently, she’s working on a techno-thriller that should be ready this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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