SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy Sniper by Howard E. Wasdin and Stephen Templin is a memoir of Mr. Wasdin’s time as a Navy SEAL.
The book is a behind the scenes look at SEAL Team Six, a unit which specialized in counterterrorism, hostage rescue, and counterinsurgency. Howard Wasdin writes about the grueling selection process, Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) and sniper school.
After going through the selection process, Mr. Wasdin faced combat operations in Desert Storm as a member of SEAL Team Two and got selected for SEAL Team Six. He was sent to Somalia on a mission to capture or kill Somalian warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid.
The well-written SEAL Team Six walks the reader through Wasdin’s childhood, Navy SEAL training, several missions and Mr. Wasdin settling down with his beloved wife and children.
This is an exciting book, an easy and fast read. While the authors cover a lot of ground, the book kept my attention throughout.
Especially poignant, for me, were the chapters about Somalia and the Battle of Mogadishu. Mr. Wasdin’s point of view is raw, honest and different from anything I’ve read before. I am familiar with most of the people he mentioned and reading about them, the tactics, and the battle from a different, on the ground perspective was an amazing experience for me.
I appreciated the chapters about the rough training and the reasons for it — “the more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in battle” — including the mental fortitude that helps these warriors go through, what seems to me, almost superhuman tasks.
At the beginning I thought there were a lot of product placement in SEAL Team Six, which I found disappointing. However, the more I read, the more I realized that it is not so much product placement as it is simply telling the reader about the equipment being used – the best of the best — and why.
A bit disturbing were the chapters about Mr. Wasdin’s childhood and the abuse he suffered by his stepfather. Mr. Wasdin credits that abuse with his current ability to withstand pain and his attention to detail, which I gather he truly believes.
I don’t want anyone who read this book to think that if you beat the living hell out of your child he’ll turn out to be a Navy SEAL or an elite warrior. Mr. Wasdin does make that point very clearly in the book, but I feel he didn’t make it strongly enough or often enough.
During my service I have met many people from the special forces including the most elite units and the one thing common to all was the simple fact that this is what they were born to do. You cannot learn or acquire the characteristics to become an elite warrior. You either have those qualities or you don’t. Of course you can hone your skills, find the hidden talents, sharpen them and practice to become better but you have to be born with them to begin with.
At the end of SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy Sniper there is a small section about the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, founded in 1980 as a college scholarship fund for children of special operations warriors who have been killed. Please take some time to visit them and make a donation if you can.
By the way, this book just happens to come out after the SEAL Team Six took out Bin-Laden. It was not rushed to print because of the operation. I thought this was an important point to make.