Are you as grateful as I am for the courage of the Navy SEALS?
A recent story in the Sarasota paper about two SEALS had me uttering “WOW!” at least three times. When I encounter a 3-WOW story, I must share it with you, my patriotic readers.
SEAL Jason Redman was shot and disfigured in 2007 in Iraq. He wrote about his ordeal in a recent memoir, The Trident. Jason, 39, nearly died in a firefight in Iraq, two weeks before he was scheduled to come home. He was hit several times, knocked unconscious by a round that damaged his cheek and took off most of his nose. His survival story spans 37 surgeries in four years.
His spirit never flagged, beginning with the note taped to his hospital door: “This… is a room of fun, optimism and intense rapid regrowth. If you are not prepared for that, Go ELSEWHERE.”
In 2009, after being met in public with awkward looks, he produced a T-shirt. The message: “Stop Staring. I got shot by a machine gun. It would have killed you.”
Jason started his Wounded Wear project, which accepts clothing donations for veterans, then tailors them to suit amputees. He also hosts quarterly Jumping for a Purpose. He invites wounded vets or their survivors to go skydiving to help conquer their fears.
Jason Redman recently spoke at a fundraiser in Sarasota honoring friend and fallen comrade Brian Bill.
Also a war hero with multiple deployments, Brian was killed by enemy fire in Afghanistan in 2011. He earned 4 Bronze Stars with valor before he and 16 other SEALS plus five Navy Special Warfare Operators were shot down in a CH-47 helicopter in Wardak province. The SEALS were a unit of SEAL Team 6, the group that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan just three months earlier.
Brian’s father Scott, a Sarasota builder, plans to memorialize his son by opening a retreat for Navy SEAL vets and their families, “Brian’s House,” on Manasota Key. Scott’s youngest son, Morgan, is now a Navy SEAL. Scott, who has four living children, told me, ‘My goal in life is representing the SEAL community and helping families like mine get through this painful healing process.”
Scott and Brian had talked about their wish for a family retreat. “After losing Brian, I put those dreams aside,” Scott says. Over time, the dream returned. The Bill “family” grew into a Navy SEAL family. “A retreat house for all Brian’s brothers and their families.”
On August 6th, 2011, 37 Americans died. These heroes left behind 12 spouses and 26 children. “They represent but a few among the Navy SEAL community who have had to cope with their loved one never returning home.” Brian’s father says. “We’ll never forget the sacrifices made for all of us.”
This story hit me especially hard because I have sons. Because David, like Brian, is an avid outdoorsman. Because we recently learned of the death of Jeremy Haberman, 42, the talented music impressario son of friends. Because I cannot fathom the pain of losing a child. And because I am so grateful for the young men and women who risk their lives protecting our nation.
To learn more about the SEALS and Brian Bill, or to donate to Brian’s House, go to: www.BrianBillFoundation.org.
And here is a YouTube video of one Jason Redman’s Jumping for a Purpose events: