Read part one HERE and part two HERE. An excerpt from the upcoming book, “Mastering Fear: A Navy SEAL’s Guide” by Brandon Webb and John David Mann:

It’s nighttime over the Persian Gulf, summer of 1995. The four of  us—pilot, copilot, another crewman, and I—have been out in our SH-60 Seahawk helicopter doing sonar ops. It’s been a long night, and we need to refuel on a nearby destroyer before heading back to the aircraft carrier we’ve been calling home. The pilot slows us down to a crawl as we approach the vessel below. Landing on a destroyer’s deck is always dicey, moreso on this moonless night. Someone needs to spot the deck as we hover in place, high above the ship, and talk the pilot down.

Tonight the spotter, the guy strapped into the gunner’s seat down in the belly of the bird, is me. I crack open the door and look down, scanning for telltale lights. There aren’t any. That’s weird. I glance upward—and now I see lights. What?

For the span of a single breath, I experience total disorientation. Why are there lights up here at eye level when the destroyer is way down below us? Then the disorientation evaporates as I look down again and see water, right there at my feet. Persian Gulf water—churning, grinning, reaching up for me, curling around my ankles.