While I was on the dive boat, Peace, I have learned a lot that eventually became helpful when I was in the Navy. In this excerpt from The Red Circle: My Life in the Navy SEAL Sniper Corps and How I Trained America’s Deadliest Marksmen, I will share with you how I got on the Peace, the people I learned from, and the first time I’ve seen death up close.

Coming Ashore

When we finally pulled into Coos Bay, Oregon, a crowd of locals had gathered on the docks to hear about the family that had been out there on the ocean’s angry face and survived the storm. Everyone loves a good sea story.

I was ten when we arrived in Ventura, and California has been my home ever since. My father’s great passion in life was sailing, and the next few years involved plenty of it. We continued to live on the Agio for the better part of the next six years, and while we each had our own stateroom, it was still tight quarters, and I looked for every opportunity to escape. A few times, I tried to run away from home.

Life in California revolved around the water. All my new friends surfed, and I soon joined them. I also started getting into trouble again. My mom, who went to work for a few years on California’s offshore oil platforms, never knew what to expect when she would come home. Once, she found a few friends and me hunting down squirrels with homemade blowguns. Another time she saw the boat’s mast swaying as she approached. She broke into a run, and when she reached the boat, she saw that my friends and I were taking turns pushing off and swinging around the mast high above the deck on a harness I’d rigged.

During most of this time, my father and I might as well have been living on separate planets. He was working his tail off. He would leave early in the morning and come back at five o’clock—briefly—for dinner. My mom was pretty good about corralling us inside for family dinner together, but as soon as we pushed back our plates, we would all head off to do our own thing.

My Knee Problem

There was a period there, in eighth grade, when my dad made an extra effort to get me into ice hockey. The closest rink was in Thousand Oaks, nearly an hour’s drive away. During hockey season, he would get up every Saturday at 5:30 A.M. to drive me out to Thousand Oaks for practice. He even helped coach our team. Throughout that hockey season, the two of us had an opportunity to bond again, just as we had when we were back in Kimberley. But that soon came abruptly to an end, and my sports career with it.

I’d noticed that my knees were starting to ache, and toward the end of that hockey season, it got pretty severe. I could play through it, but after practice, I would have two swollen bumps on my knees, and if you tapped it in just the right spot, it felt like someone was jamming an ice pick into my knee.

My folks took me to the doctor, and he knew what it was right away.