Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Adam Brown was an animal, a madman, a beast. He was all of these things, in the best possible way. These qualities help a man get through Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training, and Adam had them in spades. He was a maniac. He truly was ‘Fearless.’ He would do anything asked of him, without a moment’s hesitation, and with balls-to-the-wall gusto. He went 100 miles per hour at everything he did in BUD/S, and gave more than any man should be expected to in every physical evolution.
Adam rolled into my BUD/S class in Second Phase, after having started in Class 226. I do not remember if he was rolled back for an injury, or if he had failed pool competency or some other aspect of Second Phase. All I knew at the time, when he rolled in with us, was that he was a “brown shirt,” meaning he had already made it through Hell Week, and he had that deep, sloping, Arkansan southern drawl.
Adam quickly became a pillar of our class. He was as good a man as anyone could imagine, in that he would give selflessly to his fellow classmates, and was as generous in his good humor as he was in his time and energy. He would tell us stories at San Clemente Island, while we cleaned our weapons late into the night, after all the instructors had gone to bed, and we had a precious and fleeting moment free of the BUD/S pressure — and we would laugh until it hurt.
The way Adam would tell a story, some vignette from his wild adolescence growing up in Arkansas, in that accent of his, would give us a desperately needed boost and a break from the mental grind of the training. He helped us all weather the storm with his humor and warmth.
Adam’s son was born while we were at San Clemente Island. I will never forget how excited he was when he heard the news, and how he could not wait to see the baby boy when we got back to Coronado. His wife met us back at the BUD/S compound, and Adam’s first words were, “Oh my God, just look at him, he is so tiny.” And he held the boy in his arms and we all felt just a small fraction of the emotion that was no doubt enveloping Adam in that moment.
Adam was killed in action in Afghanistan on March 17, 2010.
On this Memorial Day, I look fondly and sadly back at the life of my friend, Adam Brown, and I am thankful that I was lucky enough to know him, even for that short time. The true sacrifice is born by his wife, and children, and that small baby, who is now a teenager, and no doubt never for a second doubts how much his father loved him, and how everything else that day, when we arrived back at the BUD/S compound, and he first laid eyes on that little boy, paled in comparison to how that baby boy made him feel.
Men and women like Adam served us all, and gave their all for us, and for that we are so grateful. However, we are even more grateful to their families, who continue to sacrifice every single day for all of us, in their loss, and will do so for the rest of their lives.
This Memorial Day, say thank you to a service-member’s family. Say thank you for all they give to us, and for all they endure. They deserve it more than anyone.