SEAL: The Ultimate Sacrifice Title

“In times of war or uncertainty there is a special breed of warrior ready to answer our Nation’s call; a common man with uncommon desire to succeed. Forged by adversity, he stands alongside America’s finest special operations forces to serve his country and the American people, and to protect their way of life. I am that man.” – Excerpt from the Navy SEAL Code

Imagine a man who recognizes that he is an ordinary man, “a common man with an uncommon desire to succeed.” For him and others like him, there is a desire born inside that grows in the blood, in the veins, pumping through the heart for years. This desire grows into a calling. It’s this sense of purpose, this overwhelming commitment to the calling, which carries a man through the physical challenges he encounters on the road to becoming one of the elite, a Navy SEAL.

Even though the legend of SEAL training has attained near mythological status, very few of us actually understand what it takes to be a SEAL. The first of many hallmarks is BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition / SEAL) training, an experience designed to be the most brutal of tests. BUD/S is a trial of physical strength, yes, but it is also a test of how deep the calling runs. It is the calling that stiffens his spine when failure would be a relief. It is the calling that keeps him from giving up and laying his helmet down and ringing the bell of resignation.

It starts with a calling, but a man under the fire of such tests cannot nourish himself on a dream alone. As training continues, a bond builds between the men who share the same calling and suffer the same crucibles day in and day out. Their backgrounds may differ, but their sense of purpose is united and they bear witness to the struggle, the failures, and the triumphs that come with SEAL training. And so the team is born. Country and team. The SEAL lives and dies for his country and his team.

Each SEAL team member lives by a code. The SEAL Code talks about a special breed of warrior who is “forged by adversity” and who “serves with honor.” A man who vows, “never to quit” and a man for whom “uncompromising integrity” is the standard, the SEAL draws inspiration from the “proud tradition” and the “legacy of (his) teammates.” The SEAL Code asserts, “My loyalty to Country and Team is beyond reproach.” For the SEAL, country and team are tangible, living and breathing reasons to fight with honor and uncompromising perseverance. When a SEAL accepts the Trident, he accepts the weight of the responsibility that comes with it. He “voluntarily accepts the inherent hazards” of the profession and understands that he must place “the welfare and security of others” before his own. SEALs do not seek recognition for their service, and it is this quiet leadership, this unwavering selflessness, that defines a SEAL.

A man called to be a SEAL understands the fact that he may die serving his country. He also understands that the road to that ultimate sacrifice will surely be lined with many day-to-day sacrifices. The moments, large and small, that give shape to a life—the birth of his children, the triumphs and tribulations of his loved ones, the illnesses—may be but an echo in his life. His commitment to the cause may mean that he will miss so many of those things that the rest of us consider essential—the firsts: the birth of his first child, the first steps, the first words, the first bloody nose, the first heartbreak. And even though, the SEAL knows that his commitment to country and team must come first, his one regret will be the impact his calling might have on his family. And still, he is that “common man with uncommon desire to succeed… to serve his country and the American people and to protect their way of life.”

In the years since 9/11, our country has asked even more of its SEALs—long and recurring deployments as well as intensified training schedules. The SEALs who have died in training and in combat have made the ultimate sacrifice, as have their families. These men were sons, husbands, and fathers, but they were also SEALs who lived to serve.

“Brave men have fought and died building this proud tradition and feared reputation that I am bound to uphold. In the worst conditions, the legacy of my teammates steadies my resolve and silently guides my every deed. I WILL NOT FAIL.” – excerpt from the Navy SEAL Code

— Stephanie Freid-Perenchio & Ryan Waterfield

SOCS Brett D. Shadle, 3/28/2013, KIT, Marana, AZ
SO1 Matthew J. Leathers, 02/19/2013, KIT, Kaena Point, HI
SO1 Nicolas D. Checque, 12/8/2012, KIA, Afghanistan
SO1 Kevin Richard Ebbert, 11/24/2012, KIA, Afghanistan
SO2 Matthew G Kantor, 11/1/2012, KIA, Afghanistan
SO2 David John Warsen, 8/16/2012, KIA, Afghanistan
SO1 Patrick Delaney Feeks, 8/16/2012, KIA, Afghanistan
SO1 Caleb A. Nelson, 10/1/2011, KIA, Afghanistan

KIA 8/6/2011, CH-47 Downed by Enemy Fire, Afghanistan:

LCDR Jonas B. Kelsall
SOCM Louis J. Langlais
SOCS Thomas A. Ratzlaff
SOCS Heath M. Robinson
SOC Brian R. Bill
SOC Christopher G. Campbell
SOC John W. Faas
SOC Kevin A. Houston
SOC Matthew D. Mason
SOC Stephen M. Mills
SOC Robert J. Reeves
SOC Jason R. Workman
SO1 Darrik C. Benson
SO1 Jon T. Tumilson
SOC Aaron C. Vaughn
SO1 Jesse D. Pittman
SO2 Nicholas P. Spehar

KIA 9/21/2010, Blackhawk Crash, Afghanistan:

LT Brendan J. Looney
SO2 Adam O. Smith
SO3 Denis C. Miranda

SOC Collin T. Thomas, 8/18/2010, KIA, Afghanistan
SOC Adam L. Brown, 3/17/2010, KIA, Afghanistan
SO2 Ronald T. Woodle, 2/16/2010, KIT, Key West, FL
SO2 Ryan Job, 9/24/2009, died in surgery to repair
combat wounds received in Iraq on 8/2/2006
SOC Eric F. Shellenberger, 5/7/2009, KIT, Keyport, WA
SOCS John W. Marcum, 9/12/2008, KIA, Afghanistan
SOC Jason R. Freiwald,9/11/2008, KIA, Afghanistan
SO1 Joshua T. Harris, 8/30/2008, KIA, Afghanistan
SOC Lance Vaccaro, 3/6/2008, KIT, Marana, AZ
SOCS Thomas J. Valentine, 2/13/2008, KIT, Marana, AZ
SOC Michael E. Koch, 2/4/2008, KIA, Iraq
SOC Nathan H. Hardy, 2/4/2008, KIA, Iraq
SO2 Shapoor "Alex" Ghane, 1/30/2008, KIT, Walls, MS
SO1 Jason D. Lewis, 7/6/2007, KIA, Iraq
SO2 Joseph C. Schwedler, 4/6/2007, KIA, Iraq
SOC Mark T. Carter, 12/11/2007, KIA, Iraq
MA2 Michael A. Monsoor, 9/26/2006, KIA, Iraq, MOH
AO2 Marc A. Lee, 8/2/2006, KIA, Iraq

KIA 6/28/2005, Afghanistan, Operation Red Wing:

STG2 Matthew G. Axelson
GM2 Danny P. Dietz
FCC Jacques J. Fontan
ITCS Daniel R. Healy
LCDR Erik S. Kristensen
ET1 Jeffery A. Lucas
LT Michael M. McGreevy, Jr.
LT Michael P. Murphy, MOH
MM1 Shane E. Patton
QM2 James E. Suh
HM1 Jeffrey S. Taylor

HMCS Theodore Fitzhenry, 6/15/2004, KIT, near Spanish Springs,NV
BM1 Brian J. Ouellette, 5/29/2004, KIA, Afghanistan
PH1 David M. Tapper, KIA, 8/20/2003, Afghanistan
IT2 Mario G. Maestas, 7/3/2003, KIT, Ft. Chaffee, AR
IC1 Thomas E. Retzer, 6/26/2003, KIA, Afghanistan
ENS Jerry O. Pope II, 10/16/2002, KIT, Yemen
CDR Peter G. Oswald, 8/27/2002, KIT, El Salvador
HMC Matthew J. Bourgeois, 3/28/2002, KIA, Afghanistan
ABH1 Neil C. Roberts, 3/4/2002, KIA, Afghanistan