SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL Sniper

SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL Sniper

3.9 575
by Howard E. Wasdin, Stephen Templin

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The New York Times best selling book that takes you inside SEAL Team Six – the covert squad that killed Osama Bin Laden

SEAL Team Six is a secret unit tasked with counterterrorism, hostage rescue, and counterinsurgency. In this dramatic, behind-the-scenes chronicle, Howard Wasdin takes readers deep inside the

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The New York Times best selling book that takes you inside SEAL Team Six – the covert squad that killed Osama Bin Laden

SEAL Team Six is a secret unit tasked with counterterrorism, hostage rescue, and counterinsurgency. In this dramatic, behind-the-scenes chronicle, Howard Wasdin takes readers deep inside the world of Navy SEALS and Special Forces snipers, beginning with the grueling selection process of Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S)—the toughest and longest military training in the world.

After graduating, Wasdin faced new challenges. First there was combat in Operation Desert Storm as a member of SEAL Team Two. Then the Green Course: the selection process to join the legendary SEAL Team Six, with a curriculum that included practiced land warfare to unarmed combat. More than learning how to pick a lock, they learned how to blow the door off its hinges. Finally as a member of SEAL Team Six he graduated from the most storied and challenging sniper program in the country: The Marine's Scout Sniper School. Eventually, of the 18 snipers in SEAL Team Six, Wasdin became the best—which meant one of the best snipers on the planet.

Less than half a year after sniper school, he was fighting for his life. The mission: capture or kill Somalian warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid. From rooftops, helicopters and alleys, Wasdin hunted Aidid and killed his men whenever possible. But everything went quickly to hell when his small band of soldiers found themselves fighting for their lives, cut off from help, and desperately trying to rescue downed comrades during a routine mission. The Battle of Mogadishu, as it become known, left 18 American soldiers dead and 73 wounded. Howard Wasdin had both of his legs nearly blown off while engaging the enemy. His dramatic combat tales combined with inside details of becoming one of the world's deadliest snipers make this one of the most explosive military memoirs in years.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews

Though Templin is a co-author, the bulk of this book belongs to Wasdin, aveteran of the infamous "Black Hawk Down" incident who reflects on his service and life after the Navy SEALs.

While most are aware that the SEALs are America's military elite, few know that "[w]hen the SEALs send their elite, they send SEAL Team Six," a group tasked with counterterrorism and counterinsurgency. Wasdin saw combat with Team Six, following an unusual Navy career and a hardscrabble early life. He stolidly discusses an impoverished Southern childhood of farm work and frequent beatings by his stepfather: "Leon didn't kill me, but anything that was not done exactly right, I paid for." The author was drawn to the discipline of JROTC in high school; unable to afford college, he signed up for the Navy's Search and Rescue program in the early '80s. After distinguishing himself on risky helicopter-borne operations, he re-enlisted in exchange for a tryout in the notoriously difficult SEALs training program. Wasdin ably portrays this harrowing experience, particularly Hell Week, which was designed to weed out applicants. As a SEAL, Wasdin picked the grueling specialty of sniper; he saw action in Grenada, and received a Navy Commendation Medal in 1991 for covert operations during Desert Storm. The heart of the book is the ill-fated Battle of Mogadishu, where SEAL Team Six first operated a safe house in enemy territory, then became involved in the protracted firefight around two downed helicopters; Wasdin's grave wounds ended his SEAL career. The author demonstrates an impressive attention to detail, vividly recalling the chronology of several violent missions and comfortably discussing the nitty-gritty of the SEALs' uncompromising training and cutting-edge equipment and tactics. The writing is plainspoken and not overly reflective—the author doesn't consider how his difficult upbringing might have contributed to his warrior's nature. Still, as he describes his exit from military life, Wasdin gives a good sense of how confronting warfare and bloody death has ultimately made him a more contemplative and faithful person.

Realistic overview of an often misunderstood fighting force.

Michiko Kakutani
…Wasdin's narrative is visceral and as action packed as a Tom Clancy thriller…
—The New York Times
Stephen Lowman
SEAL Team Six pulses with the grit of a Jerry Bruckheimer production. There are brawls at strip joints, firefights in alleyways, explosions from RPGs, a bit of romance and, of course, cheesy lines.
—The Washington Post
The New York Times

Mr. Wasdin's narrative is visceral and as active as a Tom Clancy novel…[it] will also leave readers with a new appreciation of the training that enabled Seal Team Six to pull off the bin Laden raid with such precision…adrenaline-laced.
The Washington Post

SEAL Team Six pulses with the grit of a Jerry Bruckheimer production...On his journey to becoming a member of the Navy's best of the best, Wasdin proved his mettle in Operation Desert Storm and endured training that would break the back of most mortal men.

[SEAL Team Six] describes the harrowing ops he undertook as part of the elite Seal Team Six squadron, including the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu that almost killed him....reveals an intimate look at the rigorous training and perilous missions of the best of the Navy's best.
former Delta Force Commander and New York Times be Dalton Fury

SEAL Team Six is a masterful blend of one man's--Waz-Man's--journey from hard knocks to hard corps. Even better, Waz-Man and Templin can actually write as good as they can shoot. They capture your attention at every turn--not knowing if you're about to take a bullet to the head from a SEAL sniper or get hit in the gut with a punch line.
General Henry H. Shelton

Great insights into the training and operations of one of America's premier counterterrorism units. Grabs you on page one and is hard to put down.
Gunnery Sgt. Jack Coughlin

Wasdin is a true warrior and real hero. SEAL Team Six is a must read.

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Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.40(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


Reach Out and Touch Someone

When the U.S. Navy sends their elite, they send the SEALs. When the SEALs send their elite, they send SEAL Team Six, the navy’s equivalent to the army’s Delta Force—tasked with counterterrorism and counterinsurgency, occasionally working with the CIA. This is the first time a SEAL Team Six sniper’s story has been exposed. My story.

Snipers avoid exposure. Although we prefer to act rather than be acted upon, some forces are beyond our control. We rely on our strengths to exploit the enemy’s vulnerabilities; however, during the war in the Persian Gulf I became vulnerable as the lone person on the fantail of an enemy ship filled with a crew working for Saddam Hussein. On yet another occasion, despite being a master of cover and concealment, I lay naked on an aircraft runway in a Third World country with bullet holes in both legs, the right leg nearly blown off by an AK-47 bullet. Sometimes we must face what we try to avoid.

*   *   *

In the morning darkness of September 18, 1993, in Mogadishu, Somalia, Casanova and I crept over the ledge of a retaining wall and climbed to the top of a six-story tower. Even at this early hour there were already people moving around. Men, women, and children relieved themselves in the streets. I smelled the morning fires being lit, fueled by dried animal dung and whatever else people could find to burn. The fires heated any food the Somalis had managed to obtain. Warlord Aidid knew fully the power of controlling the food supply. Every time I saw a starving child, I blamed Aidid for his evil power play that facilitated this devastation of life.

The tower we were on was located in the middle of the Pakistani compound. The Pakistanis were professional and treated us with great respect. When it was teatime, the boy in charge of serving always brought us a cup. I had even developed a taste for the fresh goat milk they used in the tea. The sounds and scents of the goatherd in the compound reached my senses as Casanova and I crawled onto the outer lip at the top of the tower. There we lay prone, watching a large garage, a vehicle body shop that had no roof. Surrounding the garage was a city of despair. Somalis trudged along with their heads and shoulders lowered. Helplessness dimmed their faces, and starvation pulled the skin tight across their bones. Because this was a “better” part of town, multilevel buildings stood in fairly good repair. There were concrete block houses instead of the tin and wooden lean-to sheds that dominated most of the city and countryside. Nevertheless, the smell of human waste and death—mixed with hopelessness—filled the air. Yes, hopelessness has a smell. People use the term “developing countries,” but that is bullcrap. What developed in Somalia was things such as hunger and fighting. I think “developing countries” is just a term used to make the people who coined it feel better. No matter what you call them, starvation and war are two of the worst events imaginable.

I calculated the exact distances to certain buildings. There are two primary considerations when making a sniper shot, windage and elevation. Because there was no significant wind that could throw my shot left or right, I didn’t have to compensate for it. Elevation is the variable considered for range/distance to the target. Since most of my potential targets were between 200 yards (garage) and 650 yards (intersection beyond the target garage), I dialed my scope in at 500 yards. This way I could just hold my rifle higher or lower depending on range. When the shooting began, there would be no time to dial in range corrections on my scope between shots.

We started our surveillance at 0600. While we waited for our agent to give us the signal, I played different scenarios over in my mind: one enemy popping out at one location, then another popping up at another location, and so on. I would acquire, aim, and even do a simulated trigger pull, going through my rehearsed breathing and follow-through routine while picturing the actual engagement. Then I simulated reloading and getting back into my Leupold 10-power scope, continuing to scan for more booger-eaters. I had done this dry firing and actual firing thousands of times—wet, dry, muddy, snowbound, from a dug-in hole in the ground, from an urban sniper hide through a partially open window, and nearly every which way imaginable. The words they had drilled into our heads since we began SEAL training were true, “The more you sweat in peacetime, the less you bleed in war.” This particular day, I was charged with making sure none of my Delta Force buddies sprang a leak as I covered their insertion into the garage. My buddies’ not bleeding in war was every bit as important as my not bleeding.

Our target for this mission was Osman Ali Atto—Warlord Aidid’s main financier. Although Casanova and I would’ve been able to recognize the target from our previous surveillance, we were required to have confirmation of his identity from the CIA asset before we gave the launch command.

The irony wasn’t lost on me that we were capturing Atto instead of killing him—despite the fact that he and his boss had killed hundreds of thousands of Somalis. I felt that if we could kill Atto and Aidid, we could stop the fighting, get the food to the people quickly, and go home in one piece.

It wasn’t until around 0815 that our asset finally gave the predetermined signal. He was doing this because the CIA paid him well. I had learned firsthand while working with the CIA how payoffs could sway loyalty.

When we saw the signal, Casanova and I launched the “full package.” Little Bird and Black Hawk helicopters filled the sky. During this time, the Delta operators literally had their butts hanging out—the urban environment provided too much cover, too much concealment, and too many escape routes for the enemy. All a hostile had to do was shoot a few rounds at a helo or Humvee, jump back inside a building, and put his weapon down. Even if he reappeared, he was not considered hostile without a weapon. Things happened fast, and the environment was unforgiving.

Delta Force operators fast-roped down inside the garage, Rangers fast-roped around the garage, and

Birds flew overhead with Delta snipers giving the assault force protection. Atto’s people scattered like rats. Soon, enemy militia appeared in the neighborhood shooting up at the helicopters.

Normally, snipers operate in a spotter-sniper relationship. The spotter identifies, ranges the targets, and relays them to the sniper for execution. There would be no time for that on this op—we were engaged in urban warfare. In this environment, an enemy could appear from anywhere. Even worse, the enemy dressed the same as a civilian. We had to wait and see his intention. Even if he appeared with a gun, there was a chance he was part of a clan on our side. We had to wait until the person pointed the weapon in the direction of our guys. Then we would ensure the enemy ceased to exist.

There would be no time for makeup or second shots. Both Casanova and I wielded .300 Win Mag sniper rifles.

Through my Leupold 10-power scope, I saw a militiaman 500 yards away firing through an open window at the helos. I made a mental note to keep my heart rate down and centered the crosshairs on him as my muscle memory took over—stock firmly into the shoulder, cheek positioned behind the scope, eye focused on the center of the crosshairs rather than the enemy, and steady trigger squeezing (even though it was only a light, 2-pound pull). I felt the gratifying recoil of my rifle. The round hit him in the side of the chest, entering his left and exiting his right. He convulsed and buckled, falling backward into the building—permanently. I quickly got back into my scope and scanned. Game on now. All other thoughts departed my mind. I was at one with my Win Mag, scanning my sector. Casanova scanned his sector, too.

Another militiaman carrying an AK-47 came out a fire escape door on the side of a building 300 yards away from me and aimed his rifle at the Delta operators assaulting the garage. From his position, I’m sure he thought he was safe from the assaulters, and he probably was. He was not safe from me—300 yards wasn’t even a challenge. I shot him through his left side, and the round exited his right. He slumped down onto the fire escape landing, never knowing what hit him. His AK-47 lay silent next to him. Someone tried to reach out and retrieve the weapon—one round from my Win Mag put a stop to that. Each time I made a shot, I immediately forgot about that target and scanned for another.

Chaos erupted inside and outside of the garage. People ran everywhere. Little Birds and Black Hawks filled the skies with deafening rotor blasts. I was in my own little world, though. Nothing existed outside my scope and my mission. Let the Unit guys handle their business in the garage. My business was reaching out and touching the enemy.

This wasn’t the first time I’d killed for my country. It wouldn’t be the last.

A few minutes passed as I continued scanning. More than 800 yards away, a guy popped up with an RPG launcher on his shoulder, preparing to fire at the helicopters. If I took him out, it would be the longest killing shot of my career. If I failed …


Copyright © 2011 by Howard E. Wasdin and Stephen Templin

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SEAL Team Six (Library Edition) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 575 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an incredible story of Mr. Wasdin's life. Once you pick it up, it is difficult to lay it down. It reads well (and quickly) from cover to cover. It grabs you and does not let you go. I feel this book also brings honor to the SEALS. It corrects many misconceptions that people have and really takes you inside of the type of individual it takes to become one of these elite. They aren't robots or gorillas. They are the most motivated, highly trained, cream of the cream. It makes me feel safer just knowing that we, as Americans, can depend on these guys to protect us (in addition to our other troops). But when the chips are down - they're your guys! I am not much of a military book reader, but this book was fabulous! The human interest side is amazing. The blocks that were placed in front of this person and the way he used them to advance in his life, it is a true inspiration. Makes me realize - I have nothing to complain about and everything to be grateful for! Enjoy!!!
J_K_N More than 1 year ago
I watched an interview with Howard Wasdin as he was talking about his book, Seal Team Six, that is coming out on May 10th. I was stunned by the poise and effort that he put into writing this book. I plan on buying it as soon as it comes out, and I would also recommend viewing Howard's views on the attack of UBL and his insight of what to expect in the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thanks to Howard, and the many others who stand proudly to fight for our freedom, we are free! Howard is family, and he is nothing less than the best! He is a most honorable man, and he has certainly been supportive to my family and myself! No matter where I am in this world, whether it is one day, weeks, or a year since I talked with him, I have no doubts if I call in need, he will be there in a moments time. Howard never changes. He remains the same person, inside and out! We are extremely proud of Howard, his representative of our family and community! He is the best of the best!
Man_Of_La_Book_Dot_Com More than 1 year ago
"SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy Sniper" by Howard E. Wasdin and Stephen Templin is a memoir of Mr. Wasdin time as a Navy SEAL. This book just happens to come out after SEAL Team Six took out Bin-Laden. The book was not rushed to print because of the operation. I thought this was an important point to make. 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. "SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy Sniper" by Howard E. Wasdin and Stephen Templin is a well written memoir which 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. I read a lot about that battle and Mr. Wasdin's point of view is raw, honest and different from anything I 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 were 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"), it is amazing the mental fortitude of these warriors which helps them go through, what seems to me, almost superhuman tasks. At the beginning I thought there were a lot of product placement in the book, which I found disappointing, however the more I read the more I realized that it is not product placement (even though it's hard to tell) but 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 step father. Mr. Wasdin credits that abuse with his ability to withstand pain and attention to detail, which I gathered 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 didn't feel he made 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 of the was the simple fact that this is what they were born to do. You cannot learn or acquire the characteristics, capabilities and fortitude to become an elite warrior. You either have those or you don't. Period! 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 the book there is a 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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"seal team 6" is very hard to put down. this is the inside memoirs of one of americas top seal team snipers and for the first time I got an inside look at what it was like from training to the battlefield from the perspective of a sniper who has one of the toughest jobs and whoose life is in danger the most cause the enemy is looking out for for the sniper. I found this bestseller fasinating cause these are the people who are if it werent for them many battles would be not be won and many hostages would not be free great gift idea for a friend or family member
MMA_DON More than 1 year ago
Great read, great story. The Navy Seal training was intense but the combat was surreal at times especially in Mogadishu. I can only Thank Mr. Wasdin for his service to his country and am truly grateful for what he did. Again politic's didn't let the job get done but that doesn't diminish what the troops did in Mogadishu. To those doubting the credibility of Mr. Wasdin I suppose you also believe Bin Laden is alive too. This is a must read you will not be disappointed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Howard Wasdin is one deadly chiropractor. What a great read, fast paced and full of great details and incredible stories. We follow Wasdin from BUD/S to SEAL team 2 and Desert Storm to the elite SEAL team 6 and his sniper training. When Wasdin goes to Mogadishu... so do you! You can almost feel the recoil of his Win Mag and later feel the agony as AK-47 bullets rip into his flesh! And then we learn about the hardest thing all true warriors must face at some point... walking away from the teams and the bonds that the men of elite operations units share with no one else. Then he is forced to decide what to do with the rest of his life. Security contractor, Police officer, nope after being free from the pain of gunshot wounds and fast-paced life of elite operations by a chiropractor he decided that he wanted heal others. It's no wonder every boy in America wants to be a special operator and Howard Wasdin's book may just be a special operations recruitment tool... if you can hang with the BIG BOYS!
Edwin Delgado More than 1 year ago
A very entertaining read on the life and experiences of an American hero. His accounts of the Seal team experience and Somalia deployment and Mogadishu battle are gripping with detail that puts you in the action. I highly recommend it!!
Anonymous 6 months ago
Of all the Seal TEAM Six snipers, Howard E. Wasdin was one of the best. Wasdin is one of the authors of this book Seal TEAM Six. In Seal TEAM Six, the reader gets to experience a real war atmosphere. This novel is portrayed as “A behind-the-scenes look at Seal TEAM Six. Well written….. and exciting book”- Seattle post- Intelligencer. The authors in this novel, Wasdin and Templin, also portray the same way of writing in Easy Day for the Dead and Russia Without Love. In the beginning, the reader is introduced to Wasdin, one of the elite Navy snipers, starting with his childhood, and leading to adulthood and into military personnel. “As a child, I learned to endure forces beyond my control” (pg.25, Wasdin) says Wasdin about the beginning of his character development. Wasdin became the military personnel he is as a child and became even stronger throughout his life. As you read further, this book will teach you much about the military. Whether you know anything about the military or not, you will still understand the book because you don’t need to know any military information coming into it. I would definitely recommend this book to the teen audience and up because at points it may get too graphic for a younger audience. The plot starts off with Wasdin as a child and how he was physically abused by his step- father. This is a horrible situation but shapes his character. His childhood ends up being a really important part in his career development and how he acts in certain situations. Then the plot goes on to tell about his training and how he got to be in the military. The details about Wasdin’s war experiences, like when he was in Somali searching for Aidid, are both exciting and terrifying. Throughout his tour in Somali, he helps the common people and aids in the capture of Aidid. The novel is action packed and kept me interested in reading more. If you liked either the movie or book “American Sniper” this is definitely a book for you. These both give a large back ground on the main characters which help you feel even more attached to them than other books or movies. These books will both make you look at the military in a different way and give more respect to the men and women who serve our nation.
B-loNY More than 1 year ago
Probably the best of all the Seal books
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book ever. It was funny, smart, entertaining and insightful. Definitely one of my top fav if not THE top fav. Even starting it again, it sucks me back in. Sometimes you wonder why America gets involved in some of these developed countries. You find out the people there really appreciate our help when their own people are monsters. It really opened my eyes. You really feel for these seals and everything they do for us. Great, great read. Must buy.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
hello I know Dr. Howard Wasdin.I'm actually used to be 1 of his patients.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Inspiring book we should all apreciate our soldiers...its very unfortunate through tht the man they talked about in this book killed himself at a shooting range with one of his buddies a year or 3 ago...hats off to him and all SEALS!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Choooooooooooobaaaaaa kangaroooooooo
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Snickers yeah your first child wont be with blake not arter wat you wrotecyou a.d.s.h.o.l.e
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great action packed thriller.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Last night ashclan was told to leave to a new camp when a few people left a elder told them to move camp back. a new warrior quillspick was sleeping next to to kits she refused to leave the sleepie heads in the the elder sparkfire blamed her for the move.
MackLib More than 1 year ago
Interesting underlying story but told in such an alternately grandiose or moralizing style that it grated. Read the Greitens book instead.