We have the will to fight. We learn from our predecessors how to ply our trade. The experiences that we collect start to define who we are, what we stand for and how we value our lives. Most men have the sense and reality of death at some point during service to our nation.
After you have stepped off a Black Hawk or landed in a C-17 safely back at your home station, you start to lose that reality. Each time you add another deployment, another mission, another firefight, you slowly become invincible.
If we have made it through all those missions and deployments, how can we lose our life in the mundane of our days back in the United States? These are feelings that I and many others in Special Operation have felt through our time in and out of service. I know personally, after I was out of Ranger Battalion, I had a misguided sense of security about my safety.
There is something about having rounds ricochet feet from your position and seeing your brothers make it home after nearly being killed by a suicide bomber that makes you lose all consideration of dying on home soil.
If you look at the lives of most SOF soldiers while in or after they have exited the service, they are not just sitting around waiting for life to happen. They are taking full advantage of what they have and are using their skills and abilities to their advantage.
Whether they move into a profession behind a desk or one behind a weapon, they find a way to relive the excitement and adrenaline of combat. They may shoot guns, ride dirt bikes, scale mountains, base jump, or scuba dive. Whatever it is they do, their coping skills involve more risk than the average person is willing to accept.
When reality strikes and I learn about the death of a SOF brother in the community, it slows me down. Maybe I am not invincible as I have told myself for so long. Does that mean that I should stop taking risks? Absolutely not. But it does make me reevaluate the need to cherish my family, friends, and brothers in arms.
As you live through despairing times in our nation and watch as tragedy after tragedy occurs, connect with the ones you love. Do this for yourselves. But more importantly, do this for the ones that love you. Hug your wives, children, mothers, fathers, reconnect with the ones in which you fought the enemy, and celebrate the lives of lost heroes.
Although she was neither a soldier or what one would call average, I believe Helen Keller explained it best when she said:
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”