Mark Millican

Mark Millican

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” — G.K. Chesterton

Through social media, I made contact with an old schoolmate in the last year who lives in North Carolina. Though a year older, Gary Brown ran in some of the same circles. He was a lot more stable, though, and with help from another friend of ours probably saved my life one night 40-plus years ago in a turbulent storm system known as the young Mark Millican.

On a phone call between Varnell and the “Inner Banks” we caught up with each other’s lives one evening, and I sent Gary a copy of my book. Recently, he asked if I’d read “Fearless: The Undaunted Courage and Ultimate Sacrifice of Navy SEAL Team SIX Operator Adam Brown” (no relation) by Eric Blehm. I had not, and last week his gift of the book arrived. I’ve read a lot of books written by Navy SEALs, and was not looking forward to jumping into this one. I’ve been slogging through “In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeanette” by author Hampton Sides, and found it fascinating for its depth of research — the kind that’s “better than fiction.”

However, once I picked up “Fearless” and read for a little while, I couldn’t put it down.

With just part-time reading, I plowed through its 347 pages in three days. That happens rarely in my world.

There are many remarkable aspects to “Fearless.” Adam Brown was too small to play football, but became one of his Arkansas high school’s fiercest players anyway and runner-up state champion. His bravery in some instances might be traced to foolhardiness, such as jumping off a moving car going across a bridge into a lake because he saw it done in the movie “Navy SEALs,” or sitting on a hill of stirred-up fire ants for 30 seconds. Too, he went into combat situations after proving he could function effectively without the eye he lost in a training accident.

What really stands out in this 2012 book, though, is its transparency. You see, Adam Brown at one time was hooked on crack cocaine, but came through the addiction to not only become a top-level SEAL but also earn a college degree while deployed overseas. Blehm’s reporting of the fighting against Taliban and al-Qaida terrorists in Afghanistan — told by Brown’s fellow SEALs — is not only revelatory but riveting, and gives the reader a renewed respect for the thousands of hours of training that can go into just a few minutes of combat.

In hopes of not spoiling the story, I’ll say less in this column except that I was profoundly moved by this book. At the close of the book around 30 letters written to the author from around the world are added that essentially drive home the same point — many readers said they’ll never be the same after reading “Fearless.”

There is evil in the world, and there are those who stand against it when it targets defenseless women and children, no matter what country or culture they live in. We should be thankful for those in our military who sacrifice greatly, and willingly put themselves in harm’s way, to prevent it from happening.

Adam Brown didn’t hate, but he loved greatly. If you’re an adult, read “Fearless” and then give it to a mixed-up teenager. If you’re in the military, give it to your family.

If you like transformational reading, give it to anyone who’s a friend.

Mark Millican is a former staff writer for the Dalton Daily Citizen.

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