I read a tremendous amount of material in a year, and it’s not often a book vaults itself to my very short list of all-time favorites. I just finished Fearless: The Undaunted Courage and Ultimate Sacrifice of Navy SEAL Team SIX Operator Adam Brown by Eric Blehm (Waterbrook, 2012). This book is on that short list. It is one of the rare, true stories that include the exciting journey of a warrior, humorous anecdotes, touching family stories, an inspiring faith journey, and more. When I think back on Adam Brown’s story, five adjectives come to mind: fearless, inspiring, convicting, motivating, and reassuring.
(Note: There are story “spoilers” in the comments below.)
Adam Brown was indeed fearless. Several people commented that Adam didn’t know what it meant to fear something. One of his SEAL teammates said he was missing the “fear gene.” In some cases, this meant he put himself in dangerous situations (e.g. jumping out of a moving vehicle that was on a bridge, into the water below). Sometimes this resulted in funny situations (such as the fire ant story—although that one will make you cringe, too). Usually, his lack of fear resulted in inspiring heroics whether he was on the football field, defending a friend’s honor, or serving his country.
Adam’s story is inspiring for a number of reasons, not just because of his fearless heroics. Adam grew up an all-American teenager: popular, good student, football player, Christian. When he got to college, things changed. Adam’s life quickly spiraled out of control and into the drug culture. His crack cocaine habit pushed him to stealing from friends, family, and employers. Jail time was a wake-up call. A jail-cell visit from a pastor prompted Adam to re-commit his life to Christ. The Teen Challenge program was a significant help to Adam, but life was still a roller-coaster ride through his faith and drugs. In the end, the Holy Spirit’s transforming work was perfect and Adam’s life journey became an inspiration to many.
Adam’s life journey showed how God can work in a man’s life in a way that only God can do. His family learned to trust God and Adam learned to surrender to God, let the blood of the cross wash away his failings, and experience the perfecting work of the Holy Spirit. I look at my life and see that the challenges I face are tiny compared to Adam’s, but God doesn’t want me to compare the size of our problems. My responsibility is the same as Adam’s: surrender. It’s so easy to get caught up in daily struggles of life, family, work…even the church. It’s so easy to let them take control (which turns into me trying to control them). Adam learned to model the one basic requirement of Christian living: surrender.
One of the most amazing parts of Adam’s story is his ability to overcome mental and physical challenges. The process of becoming a Navy SEAL is amazing all by itself, but Adam’s story goes far beyond becoming a SEAL. In a training exercise, in which the SEALs were using “sim rounds” (non-lethal, but still painful, ammunition), Adam’s right eye was injured and effectively blinded. Also, while deployed in Iraq, he was in a non-combat vehicle accident in which the fingers on his right hand were severed. The fingers were reattached, but he never regained full dexterity in his right hand. Neither of these “handicaps” got in the way of Adam becoming a certified sniper using his non-dominant, left eye and hand. While always seeking God’s guidance, he eventually became a member of the elite of the elite in the SEAL community: the Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU). He had reached the pinnacle of Navy SEAL ranks. The lesson: When God is in it, don’t give up. He has a way.
Much of the Adam Brown story is about the great and larger than life things that he did. However, his story also includes playing with the children of the communities they were protecting, providing more than 500 pairs of socks and shoes to kids in Afghanistan, and how he prioritized the protection of women and children in their combat operations. In fact, Adam was typical of the self-sacrifice displayed by the men and women in uniform protecting our country. The United States of America have the absolute best military force in the world—not just because of the technology, resources, and strategy in use, but primarily because of the men and women employing those technologies, resources, and strategies. Adam Brown’s story serves as a reminder that we, citizens of the greatest country on Earth, can be reassured through this.
When you read Fearless, you will laugh, you will be riveted to the story as it unfolds, and you will cry. Prepare to have your heart warmed and be inspired by the story of one of our country’s heroes. (You can also watch a 26-minute video, The Adam Brown Story.)
Note: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.
Dr. Scott Yorkovich is a leadership coach and consultant. He works with individuals, small and medium organizations, and ministries. Contact him at ScottYorkovich[at]LeadStrategic.com with your questions.
Photo by US Department of Defense.