I am hopelessly and helplessly condemned by my own lust for literature that I recklessly and depravedly buy books with remorseless abandon. My day job is the ever more practical occupation of freelance musician. I'm not rich. Which makes my licentious book purchasing all the more irresponsible.
Sunday, July 15, 2012
SEAL of God by Chad Williams with David Thomas
This is the fourth
in a series of book reviews I’m writing on America at war and the second about
was the quintessential California
party dude. Whatever he did he excelled
at and what he seemed to excel at most was getting drunk, high, and partying at
all hours of the night. So it came as no
little surprise to his family when he informed them that he wanted to become a
In an effort to
dissuade him, his father got a former Navy SEAL who was a personal trainer and
technical advisor to the Survivor reality TV series (I’m guessing Chad’s parents
weren’t hurting financially) to act as his personal trainer for nine
The tactic backfired. Chad worked with US Navy SEAL,
Scott Helvenston, until Scott one day informed him, “I’ve never said this to
anyone else I’ve trained, but you WILL become a Navy SEAL.”
reenlisted and served in Iraq
where he was brutally murdered in an ambush on the streets of Fallujah. Becoming a SEAL now became a goal for Chad to avenge
The bulk of Chad’s book
describes the training he went through in Hell week. The other books I’ve read describe Hell Week
too, but none go into as much detail as this one. By the time Chad finally graduates from the
program you feel as though you’d gone through it with him. He also spends a lot of time talking about
the technical training that prepared them to perform various jobs.
Becoming a Navy
SEAL did not change Chad’s
lifestyle. The only difference was now when he got drunk and bar hopped all
night, he won the bar brawls he got into.
He seemed to thrive off brawling.
He describes waking up and having someone else’s blood all over him and
having no memory of what even happened.
Then one night,
while he was on break between missions, his parents informed him that he could
no longer stay at their house. His
reckless lifestyle was taking its toll on them and they could no longer
tolerate it. This put a monkey wrench in
plans because he was hiding a keg in their garage. He thought fast. Then he informed them that actually he wanted
to stay one more night and go to church with them.
parents acquiesced. Chad figured
sitting through a church service was a small price to pay.
After the church he could go back home, sneak his keg out and take off.
At the service
the pastor, Greg Laurie, talked about the Syrian commander Naaman who had
leprosy. As Laurie described Naaman’s
condition, his visit to the prophet Elisha and subsequent healing, Chad recognized
himself. He was a commander, just like
Naaman and even though he didn’t have a physical ailment, he knew he had a
spiritual leprosy that was eating away at his soul. To the astonishment of his family and
girlfriend (who only came so they could party together later) he walked down
and committed his life to Christ.
As hellacious as
training to be a SEAL was, Chad
was about to discover that being persecuted for being a Christian could be even
worse. When he returned to his team,
they discovered a new Chad. One that didn’t want to drink, brawl or go to
Strip Bars anymore. This enraged
them. The beatings and torture he
received at the hands of his fellow SEALS was so bad he had to be moved to
another team because it was feared they might murder him. It recalls to mind:
is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead
of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light,
and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. (John 3:19, 20)
Chad still completed his tour of
duty. Chad is only twenty-seven and got
out of the SEALS a couple of years ago so most of his assignments he’s not
allowed to talk about. However the few
assignments he does describe, such as circumventing an ambush just like Scott’s
as well as working to fight Islamic insurgents in the Phillipines are exciting. Heavy weapons were his specialty. The SEALS on the teams he was deployed with
were surprised that a Christian could indeed cover your back with a RWS-rigged RG-33 and keep you alive.
Even though the
Navy offered him a ninety-thousand –dollar bonus to sign a new contract, he
knew he had entered into a new season.
One time while on the beach he shared his new found faith with people
willing to listen. Afterwards a man came
up to him and said that he needed to become a SEAL for God.
advertize who they are so Chad
didn’t understand how this man knew he was a SEAL. It turns out the man didn’t. But God did.
That was a turning point for him.
Chad currently is in evangelism
ministry working with Ray Comfort and Greg Laurie, the man who preached on
I read this book in
one sitting. It’s the most enjoyable of
all three books I’ve read about Navy Seals, especially his descriptions of Hell
Week. Like I said, most of the book describes his experience in Hell week, watching other men bigger and tougher than him give up, the camaraderie that developed between those that lasted. Out of 173 who started the program, Chad was one of 13 who finished it. If nothing else, the book is worth reading for that part alone.
However, I think Chad proved his real worth when, after becoming a Navy SEAL, he did the most courageous thing and became a SEAL of God.