BEFORE HE COULD FORGE A BAND OF ELITE WARRIORS... HE HAD TO BECOME ONE HIMSELF.
Adapted from Webb's Adult Bestseller The Red Circle for a Young Adult Audience
Brandon Webb's experiences in the world's most elite sniper corps are the stuff of legend. From his grueling years of training in Naval Special Operations to his combat tours in the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan, The Making of a Navy SEAL provides a rare and riveting look at the inner workings of the U.S. military through the eyes of a covert operations specialist.
Yet it is Webb's distinguished second career as a lead instructor for the shadowy "sniper cell" and Course Manager of the Navy SEAL Sniper Program that trained some of America's finest and deadliest warriors-including Marcus Luttrell and Chris Kyle-that makes his story so compelling. Luttrell credits Webb's training with his own survival during the ill-fated 2005 Operation Redwing in Afghanistan. Kyle went on to become the U.S. military's top marksman, with more than 150 confirmed kills.
From a candid chronicle of his student days, going through the sniper course himself, to his hair-raising close calls with Taliban and al Qaeda forces in the northern Afghanistan wilderness, to his vivid account of designing new sniper standards and training some of the most accomplished snipers of the twenty-first century, Webb provides a rare look at the making of the Special Operations warriors who are at the forefront of today's military.
Explosive, revealing, and intelligent, The Making of a Navy SEAL provides a uniquely personal glimpse into one of the most challenging and secretive military training courses in the world.
|Publisher:||St. Martin''s Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||8.30(w) x 5.90(h) x 1.00(d)|
|Age Range:||13 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Brandon Webb is a former U.S. Navy SEAL; his last assignment with the SEALs was Course Manager for the elite SEAL Sniper Course, where he was instrumental in developing new curricula that trained some of the most accomplished snipers of the twenty-first century. Webb has received numerous distinguished service awards, including the Presidential Unit Citation and the Navy Commendation Medal with a "V" for "Valor," for his platoon's deployment to Afghanistan following the September 11 attacks. He is editor for Military.com's blog Kit Up, SOFREP's Editor in Chief, and a frequent national media commentator on snipers and related Special Operations Forces military issues.
John David Mann, who collaborated with Webb in writing The Red Circle, is an award-winning author whose titles include the New York Times bestseller Flash Foresight and the international bestseller The Go-Giver.
Read an Excerpt
The Making of a Navy Seal
My Story of Surviving the Toughest Challenge and Training the Best
By Brandon Webb, John David Mann
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2015 Brandon Webb and John David Mann
All rights reserved.
A few weeks past my sixteenth birthday, my dad threw me off a boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I had to find my own way after that.
As for my father, he had been thrown out at age sixteen by his father, too. I suppose the best way to make sense out of my story is to start with his.
Jack Webb grew up in Toronto, Canada. He was short, strong, and stocky. A talented hockey player and drummer, he was always a bit of a wild man. Jack grew his hair long and also had a full black beard as soon as he was old enough to grow one. His father threatened to kick Jack out if he didn't shave the beard off and cut his long hair. My father refused, and out he went.
Suddenly on his own, Jack made his way from Toronto to Malibu, California, where he managed to get landscaping jobs. Soon he had his own company. Driving home from a job one day, he picked up three hitchhikers. One of them, named Lynn, became his wife — and, eventually, my mother.
After they got married, my parents moved up to British Columbia, Canada, to a little ski town called Kimberley. There, my dad took a job as a guide at a hunting lodge, even though he knew absolutely nothing about hunting. The guy who hired him said, "Stay on the trail, and you'll be fine." He was. His first time out, he took a small group into the Canadian Rockies, where he pointed out all sorts of wildlife. When they got back, the group told my dad's boss he'd hired the greatest guide in the world. They didn't know he was just winging it.
Soon Jack was working construction. He taught himself everything there was to know about building houses. In those days, if you were a builder you did it all — pouring foundation, framing, wiring, installing drywall, plumbing, roofing, everything from A to Z. Jack had never graduated high school, but he had a big appetite for learning. He quickly became an accomplished builder with his own company.
This is when I came into the picture. I was born on June 12, 1974, screaming at the top of my tiny lungs. According to my mom, I screamed for weeks. For the next ten months I apparently stayed awake every night yelling my head off until seven in the morning. At that point, I would sleep blissfully through the day while my mom recovered from a sleepless night. My parents did everything they could to keep me awake during the day so I would sleep at night, but it didn't happen.
According to my mom, I was as wild as the Canadian landscape. I started crawling at six months — and crawled everywhere. My mom had heard of a study where they put babies on a glass counter to see how far they would crawl. Nearly all the babies stopped when they got close to the edge — about one percent went crawling off into thin air. "That one percent?" she tells people. "That was Brandon."
I started walking at nine months, and, after that, there was not a gate or door that could hold me. My mom bought every childproof lock she could find. However, "childproof" did not mean "Brandon-proof." She had doorknobs that she couldn't open, but I could. She would strap me into my high chair, but if she turned her back for just a moment, I'd be gone.
By eighteen months I had discovered the joys of climbing. I could climb up, over, into, and out of pretty much anything. This ability, combined with my easy friendship with locks and my tendency to drink anything I could get my hands on, added up to quite a few visits to the emergency room. I needed to have my little toddler-sized stomach pumped many times after I sampled things I didn't know I shouldn't drink, like kerosene, bleach, and Avon honeysuckle after-bath splash. By the time I was three, the hospital emergency room staff and my mom knew each other on a first-name basis.
When my mom was pregnant with my sister, Maryke, my dad built a gated enclosure with a swing in it. To this day, my mom still doesn't know how I did it — since she was sitting right there reading a book — but I got out of the enclosure, scooted down a steep hill, and disappeared before she realized I was gone. My mother was wild with fear. Just the night before, she and my father had seen a pack of coyotes ranging around. Now, all she could think about was how her tiny son would make a tasty little coyote meal. She managed to spot me because I was wearing a red sweatshirt. Somehow she coaxed me back up the hill and under the fence. Then she grabbed me, crying hysterically.
My parents quickly figured out that while they couldn't control my wild energy, they could channel it. Once they saw how much I loved skiing, they knew they'd stumbled on a parenting strategy that would serve us all well for years to come. To try to keep me out of trouble, they would get me involved in every sports activity possible. It worked, too — at least for a while.
By age five I was on a ski team. Some of my earliest memories are of the crisp cold air in my face and the schuss sound of the snow under my skis as I flew down a 2,500-foot hill. Every day during ski season, my mom would pick me up from kindergarten and drive to the slopes. We had a season skiing pass, and we used it to the max.
At the time, this hill seemed to be an enormous mountain in an endless world of snow and adventure. I can clearly remember spending countless afternoons on my bright, yellow Mickey Mouse K2 skis, exploring every trail and out-of-the-way patch.
My best friend at the time was a kid named Justin. We spent every afternoon we could exploring that hill together. Justin and I got into ski racing and joined a team. By the time we were in first grade, our team was competing in tournaments. My mom still has some first-place ribbons I took at the age of six.
By age seven I had also piled wrestling, football, baseball, swimming, and track onto my athletic schedule.
While all these sports kept me occupied, I still found time to get into trouble. My dad was usually in charge of my punishment. I was not exactly scared of him, but I knew my dad was in charge. He was not afraid to whip out his belt and get after me when he thought I needed it. Over the years, my backside and my dad's leather belt really got to know each other. Now that I'm a parent myself, I believe in discipline just as much as my dad did. But instead of getting a spanking, my kids do push-ups. My son can knock out more push-ups than most adults I know.
Although my dad was very strict, he was also not afraid to hug me and tell me he loved me. He was a good father, and I have a lot of happy memories of him from those early years.
When my dad went out to a construction job site, he often took me with him. I loved it. It always felt like an adventure, just me and my dad going to these serious grown-up work sites. My dad was also captain of his hockey team, and I would go with him when they would play. These games were typically pretty late at night, because the players all had full-time jobs.
Even though I was only five, no matter how late it was, I never got tired at my dad's hockey games. I would go through the place and look for lost pucks. I'd look for quarters, too, so I could play the big, brand-new Atari Asteroids video game they had there. Crawling around, exploring every inch of the place, it felt a lot like being up on the mountain. In a way this was even better, though, because I got to be with my dad. After practice we hung out in the locker room. I thought it was the coolest thing ever, being surrounded by sweaty hockey players who were cursing, laughing, and cracking beers. I could tell my dad really enjoyed having me there too.
I looked up to Dad. In many ways, he was my hero. Then, about the time I turned six, our lives changed.CHAPTER 2
My father had always been into sailing. Both my parents had a dream of sailing around the world someday. And in 1980, when I turned six, business was doing so well they decided it was time to take a few years off and turn that dream into a reality. We owned a beautiful sixty-foot Sparkman & Stephens ketch. Why not let that become our new home as we circled the globe?
Just as we were getting ready to leave, my dad decided to do one more big construction project. This last gig, he said, would really set us up well financially. A group of investors was going to pay for everything once the place was built. So my dad took out a large construction loan and built the place. But then the economy slumped and my dad wound up with no investors — and the bill for the whole thing. He negotiated with the bank to work out a way to repay the loan. But after two years my dad had to declare bankruptcy. We lost everything, including our own home.
Being so young at the time, I didn't quite grasp what was happening. Nobody ever sat me down and said, "Brandon, we're ruined, wiped out." Even so, I could feel something was really wrong.
I remember going into the bank one day with my dad to close our accounts — the same bank he'd been wrestling with for the past year — because we were about to move away from Kimberley. One of these was a savings account he had opened for me some two years earlier.
It had been a big deal for both of us when we opened it. "Look, Brandon," I remember him telling me, "this is your first savings account. We're opening it in your name — this is going to be your money." He showed me the passbook and the first line, where he had entered the first deposit. "Now you get to watch it grow." I was so excited, and I could tell he was too.
Now my dad was informed it had a zero balance.
"What?" he practically shouted at the teller. He was furious. "How is that possible?"
I don't remember how much was in there. I knew it wasn't much, but monthly fees had apparently wiped out whatever it was, without my dad even realizing it. My dad had wanted to teach me a life lesson about how you can invest and save. The only lesson I learned that day was that you can get wiped out without even realizing it.
* * *
When I was seven we left Canada for good. We moved to a little town called Blaine, in Washington State. There, we began the painful process of starting over.
I began to realize that something pretty serious was going on. We were in a strange place in a smaller house. When my mom took me shopping for new school clothes, we hit the thrift shops instead of the big department stores. We weren't just living in a different place. Our lives were completely different.
My dad was different too. He was moodier and angrier, and tougher on me. The whole thing had devastated him. Today, more than thirty years later, he is still getting over it, and I can't say I blame him. As a kid, though, I didn't understand any of that. All I knew was that before, I would go everywhere with him. Now I didn't see him much. I have always loved my dad, but I think, during these years, a wedge started quietly growing between us.
It was in Blaine that I started fighting with other kids and acting out in all sorts of ways. My parents quickly got me as involved in sports as they could.
What I remember most about Blaine is baseball and wrestling. I was crazy about wrestling. It was also one of the few ways I could regularly connect with my dad. My dad came to all the matches to cheer our team on. I also loved going on trips with the team to compete in matches. In fourth grade I placed second in the regionals and made it to the state championships. I could tell my dad was proud of me.
Another thing that made life in Blaine better was making new friends. I had three especially good buddies there: Chris Bysh, Gaytor Rasmussen, and Scott Dodd. We are all in touch to this day. Chris became my best friend and we did lots of sports together, especially baseball.
On our Little League team, Chris played catcher and I was the pitcher. We did well enough to make it to All-Stars. We even got invited to attend a special, summer baseball camp being hosted by the Baltimore Orioles. I was so excited. It was going to be a blast!
It never happened. Instead my parents shipped Maryke and me off to Toronto to stay with relatives for the whole summer. It was my dad's idea. I was absolutely furious. What was wrong with him? I could not believe he was going to take away this incredible opportunity and ruin my summer, for no good reason whatsoever!
He actually had a very good reason. It was just one he couldn't tell us. At the time, my parents' marriage was on rocky ground. They wanted to make a serious attempt to save it. They thought they would have a better shot at it if they didn't have to tiptoe around Maryke and me for a few months. But of course, I didn't know any of that until many years later.
My father also started picking up the pieces of his career. He found a job as the foreman of a large construction company and was soon building houses again. He and my mom had never given up on their dream of sailing around the world, and by the time I entered fifth grade we were able to purchase another boat to replace the one we had lost when we had gone bankrupt.
Soon after we got the boat, we left Blaine and moved a hundred miles or so south, to Seattle. We now lived on the boat, which we christened Agio, which is an Italian word that means "ease." There were times when life on the Agio lived up to its name. And there were times when it most definitely did not.
My parents were excited about the move and hopeful about the future. Me, not so much. We had moved a lot since I was a baby, and I was starting to seriously resent it. It seemed like as soon as I made some new friends and started to settle into a place, we'd up and move. Then I'd have to go through the whole thing all over again. Looking back on this time, I can see how the ability to adapt to new circumstances probably served to build character in both Maryke and me. At the time, though, it just felt hard. I was jealous of kids who got to stay in one town and have the friends they'd known since preschool.
After a few years in Seattle, we pulled up stakes and moved yet again, this time sailing down the coast to Ventura, California. To me, it felt like the weather during the move reflected my bad mood. We hit the tail end of a hurricane a hundred miles off the coast of Oregon. For more than twenty-four hours we struggled with the full brunt of nature's gale-force winds. Finally, my father dropped our sails and put out a sea anchor. We waited for the storm to pass.
The next few dozen hours left a deep impression on me. I remember my mother gripping Maryke and me close to her, life jackets donned and survival raft at the ready, wondering which would have more staying power — us on our boat, or the hurricane. In the end, after nearly two days, the storm must have decided we were not worth it. It finally released its grip and moved on. We found we had been pushed almost two hundred miles in the wrong direction.
When we finally pulled into land, at Coos Bay, Oregon, a crowd of locals had gathered on the docks. They wanted to meet the family they heard had been out there on the ocean's angry face and survived the storm. Everyone loves a good sea story.CHAPTER 3
We finally made it all the way to Ventura, California. I was ten when we got there.
We would live on the Agio for the better part of the next six years. While we each had our own stateroom, it was still tight quarters, and I looked for every opportunity to escape.
My life in California revolved around the water. All my new friends surfed, and I soon joined them. I also started getting into trouble again. My mom, who went to work for a few years on California's offshore oil platforms, never knew what to expect when she came home. Once she found me and some friends hunting squirrels with homemade blowguns. Another time she saw the boat's mast swaying from a distance. She broke into a run. When she reached the boat she saw that my friends and I were taking turns pushing off and swinging around the mast on a harness I'd rigged.
During most of this time, my father and I might as well have been living on separate planets. He was working round the clock. He would leave early in the morning and come back at five — briefly — for dinner.
There was a period there, though, when I was in eighth grade, when my dad made an extra effort to get me into ice hockey. The closest rink was in Thousand Oaks, nearly an hour's drive away. During hockey season he would get up every Saturday at 5:30 A.M. to drive me out there for practice. He even helped coach the team. Throughout that hockey season the two of us had an opportunity to bond again. That soon came abruptly to an end, and my sports career with it.
Excerpted from The Making of a Navy Seal by Brandon Webb, John David Mann. Copyright © 2015 Brandon Webb and John David Mann. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Map of Middle East,
A Word from the Author,
Map of Brandon's Family Trips,
Part One: Born Ready for Action,
Part Two: Boot Camp Training,
Part Three: Becoming a Navy SEAL,
Part Four: One of America's Deadliest Snipers,
Part Five: Duty Calls,
Part Six: Continuing to Protect and Defend,
About the Author,