Just in time for Memorial Day, Waterbrook Press sent me a copy of Fearless: The Undaunted Courage and Ultimate Sacrifice of Navy SEAL Team SIX Operator Adam Brown. We hear all the time about the men and women of the armed forces in general, the sacrifices they make, and the many ways they preserve freedom around the world. Fearless tells the story of one such seaman, who gave everything he had every day in the service of his country.
Adam grew up in rural Arkansas, the all-American boy, loved by everyone, the athlete who made sure other kids didn't get picked on, the good-looking popular kid who asked the wallflowers to dance, the buddy who never let his buddies down, the fun-loving risk taker who respected authority. That changed after he graduated from high school; Adam spent several years as a lost soul and ended up hooked on crack and heading to jail. Through the love of his girlfriend and ever patient and forgiving family and friends, he became stable enough to join the Navy. A close friend's dad was an officer in the recruiting division; without his recommendation, Adam would probably have been accepted.
While he was in prison, Adam became a Christian. He certainly had some rough times overcoming his addiction, but as a Navy recruit and trainee, as a new husband, as a high-achieving SEAL, and as a father, Adam grew in his faith to the point that his faith in Christ shaped every part of his life. As a SEAL, Adam excelled in everything he tried. Even with injuries that would have sidelined many seamen, much less one on top of another as he had (losing an eye, severing several fingers and having them reattached, assorted leg and foot problems), Adam insisted on staying on, having to work extra hard to compensate for his injuries. He won the admiration of everyone around him for his dedication to his work as a SEAL, his dedication to his family, and his faith.
The title of the book refers to Adam's "ultimate sacrifice," so I'm giving nothing away by revealing that he was killing in the line of duty. Blehm does a tremendous job of showing Adam's character, so that the reader mourns right along with his faithful wife and his brothers in arms. Many of us have know people who have had an untimely death, and whose character and gifts lead us to question God, "Why him? Why now? Why not that worthless so-and-so next door? Why take such a great guy, in the prime of life, with young kids at home?" In a story like Adam's, that is even more true. I have to wonder, is our military's prolonged presence in Afghanistan really worth the lives of more like Adam? Sure, they're saving lives by hunting down the insurgents and preventing them from building more IEDs. But they wouldn't be building IEDs if our military wasn't occupying their country! If, as a fellow SEAL said at Adam's funeral, "This is a struggle between the forces that would protect and nourish human dignity and freedom, and those that would destroy it," who can argue against such a struggle. But when that translates into occupation of another country, of virtually taking over that country's governance, and staying in country with a military presence in the tens of thousands for a decade, it starts to become more murky.
In spite of my reservations about U.S. military policy, I can't help but admire Adam and respect his level of commitment to training, the excellence he strove for in his role, the love and commitment he had for his family, and the dedication he showed in turning his life around. His children were old enough when he died that they will have many good memories of their time with him, but what a gift Eric Blehm as given them in this beautifully written account of their daddy's life. Adam is a hero his children--not to mention the rest of us--can be proud of and look up to.
Thanks to Waterbrook/Multnomah for the complimentary review copy.