Here’s a bit of Brandon’s upcoming book for you. No title as of yet, but you’ll be the first to know it and see previews. — Charlie

In the summer of 2001, long after Chris Campbell had joined Team Five and I’d gone to Team Three, after going through sniper school and deployment and the USS Cole and home again, I left my friends at Golf Platoon to help resurrect a struggling Echo platoon that was going through a major restructuring. It had a new chief, Chris Dye, who was excellent, and a small handful of solid, squared-away guys who made my job a hell of a lot easier than it might have been. Heath Robinson was one of them.

The first day I met Heath, I had just hopped a C-2 Greyhound COD (carrier on-board delivery) monoplane to meet up with Echo a few hundred miles off the San Diego coast, where they were stationed on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific preparing for some GOPLATs (gas- and oil-platform) boarding work. The next morning I started jocking up with them for a ship-boarding exercise where we’d be fast-roping down from two helos. Right away I saw we were in trouble. These guys had their shit dangling all over the place.

Even with the intense level of training we get in the SEALs, there’s still a substantial chasm between the learning you do in the classroom and the learning you get from real-world experience. These guys didn’t know how to tighten up their straps, cut off the excess, and tape things down where necessary. They had no idea how to position or sling their guns properly. They were so not ready for serious action it wasn’t funny. It made me realize how much I’d taken our leadership at Golf Platoon for granted. Later that day, while we were on the exercise, one dude (a train wreck of a guy whom we eventually had to shit-can during our Afghanistan deployment) actually dropped his rifle in the middle of a maneuver on one of the helos—an unpardonable sin. Their chief didn’t see it. I did.

After the exercise the chief took us through a debriefing, then asked if I had any comments. I let loose, giving them chapter and verse on just how fucked up and unprepared they were.

Later on that day one of the team, a guy with intense eyes set in a Hollywood-handsome face, came over to talk to me. “Petty Officer Webb?” he said.

“Yeah,” I said.

“I just want to thank you for joining our platoon.”