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SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL Sniper Paperback – April 24, 2012
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When the Navy sends their elite, they send the SEALs. When the SEALs send their elite, they send SEAL Team Six
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.
An Excerpt from SEAL Team Six
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
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
“As action packed as a Tom Clancy thriller…harrowing...adrenaline-laced.” ―Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“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.” ―The Washington Post
“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.” ―Time
“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.” ―Dalton Fury, former Delta Force Commander and New York Times bestselling author of Black Site and Kill Bin Laden
“Wasdin is a true warrior and real hero. SEAL Team Six is a must-read.” ―Gunnery Sgt. Jack Coughlin, USMC, bestselling author of Shooter
Top Customer Reviews
This book is the memoir of Howard Wasdin, a sniper from SEAL Team Six, and co-authored by Stephen Templin, who met Howard when the two of them were going through BUD/S training together. While neither of the authors were on Team Six at the time of the OBL takedown, the book does give an excellent account of SEAL training and is one of the few books that actually talks about SEAL Team Six, which is an elite team inside the already incredibly elite world of the Navy SEALs.
The book is very exciting, written well, and gives in-depth accounts of Wasdins childhood. You can feel the pain he goes through at the hands of an abusive step-father. While that is a bad situation, you can see how Wasdin internalizes that pain and suffering and uses it to help him get through BUD/S training, which is hands-down the toughest training on this planet.
The chapter titled "The only easy day was yesterday" tells about a portion of Wasdin's time at BUD/S training. It goes into details about the rigorous training but can only cover some of it because the training is so intense and varied that it takes whole books to even come close to detailing it. If you are interested I highly recommend The Warrior Elite: The Forging of SEAL Class 228 and ...Read more ›
This book simply gives you details of the life of a Navy Seal that you will not find anywhere else, and I believe I have read most of what is on the market. Wasdin was involved with missions such as the Battle of Mogadishu, and the first Gulf War. He pulls no punches and he minces no words. What is is, and he is unafraid to tell you about it within the bounds of protecting his fellow Seals.
As an example, he mentions that during the first Gulf War he thought it was reasonable that the Seals should have been put in charge of protecting the Kuwaiti oil fields from the retreating Iraqi army under Saddam Hussein. The generals in charge thought otherwise. As a result Hussein's troops set fire to the fields during the retreat. Some 600 oil wells were fired up. Kuwait lost 5 to 6 million barrels per day. Five percent of the physical country was a mixture of land and oil, and it cost $1.5 billion to clean up, and nobody talks about it.
Wasdin is also very clear about what service to his country does to a marriage - it simply destroys it. It does not take long for a wife to realize that a Seal is more married to his team than he is to a woman. Most marriages suffer as a result, including his own, but training and the mission come first and as Seals like to say, the more you sweat in peacetime, the less you bleed in war.
The book contains 307 pages in 17 chapters plus an epilogue.Read more ›
That said, the story of Howard Wasdin's journey from being a kid with an abusive step-father to becoming an elite operative and how his experience as a youth directly influenced and guided his ability to excel at training was fascinating. And of course there is plenty of exciting reading when he recounts the various missions (both training and "real world") he was involved in leading up to his involvement in the Battle of Mogadishu. I also found the section of the book about post-operative (pun unintended) life to be a very nice surprise that really gives the whole book a very real and personal arc. The internal battle he had transitioning into a civilian life without team camaraderie and his path to finding a new career that he genuinely loves and his passion for helping people are endearing.
My only real criticism of the book is it's rather inelegant and blatant product placement. It is one thing to mention the arms maker and model of weaponry and equipment used in operations and training.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Well written and kept me interested all the e the way to the end. I appreciate Howard going into detail, telling it the way things really happened. Read morePublished 3 days ago by Valeri
CPO Wasdin gives the reader a look into the Teams as one of four DEVGRU Snipers whom fought in Mogadishu, Somalia. Read morePublished 3 days ago by Draven
Very catching. Once you start reading it you can't stop. I like how he also talked about life after SEALS.Published 8 days ago by nancy
Fantastic read. Love the people and situations in the book. Fast read as it makes you not want to put it down.Published 26 days ago by Amazon Customer
Excellent book. Really enjoyed it. If you like reading about Navy Seals this is a good one to readPublished 26 days ago by STEELERZ7
I read the previous book he wrote which was verbatim what this isPublished 1 month ago by ed houdek
It has been my favorite book about the seals so far. Very will written great storyPublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Howard Wasdin gives an excellent first hand experience of his service for our country. My admiration for the special forces warriors/heroes grows with every book I read about... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Scott
Captivating and learned a better understanding of the trials of our military. Would recommend that everyone read this book.Published 1 month ago by Nancy Manzuk