I am currently reading SEAL Team Six: memoirs of an elite Navy SEAL sniper by Wasdin. The family background and special operating training were pretty interesting. The photographs were kind of surprising because I expected to see a mythical perfect physical body and a face with a 1000 yard stare. Instead, Wasdin as photographed is an ordinary looking. That is probably an asset a member of a special operations team.
As a 40 year old, overweight, middle class engineer, the memoir cashes in on childhood dreams to be somebody. At one point, that aspiration would have been a pilot, an elite cyclist or an aerospace engineer. Today I am not sure what that aspiration is. I enjoy endurance sports and exercise on a regular basis. I am an Eagle Scout and have experience in the outdoors. However, I am a little cynical. That cynicism has made me question my genetic capabilities, mental toughness and drive.
As described in the book, special operations units require a level of mental toughness that few individuals possess. Physically stronger and faster individuals will not necessarily perform better in the conditions that these units train and operate in. Further the mental faculties required to brief and perform operations in highly fluid environments are rarely pared with that mental toughness. Finally the members of these teams train and operate in very high risk environments. It is only a matter of time before the stars align and one is wounded or killed.
A quick Wikipedia search turned up the name Eric Olson, the longest serving Navy SEAL on duty. At 59 years of age, he is currently a four star Admiral. He graduated from the Naval Academy in 1973 and completed BUD/S training in 1976. His career is an inspiration in starting at the Naval Academy with Richard Nixon in office and the Vietnam War escalating. Then he goes on to complete BUD/S training and was in the Battle of Mogadishu around 1993 which would have been the standard 20 years of service. For the past 18 years, he has still served and is currently the US Special Operations Command combatant commander.
I applied to the Air Force Academy, but was not accepted. My wife is currently serves in the Air Force and I am proud of her contributions. I wonder sometimes what it would be like to have a military career or a professional sports career. However, I also think it would be relatively easy and fun to learn to parachute, scuba dive, perform unarmed combat like boxing or martial arts, get a private pilot’s license, learn to shoot small arms or learn tactical driving.
My baby step will probably be to get out to an indoor shooting range sometime and take a few lessons. Until then I will stick to running and swimming.