A big part of what made us what we are today is influenced by the things we experienced in childhood. Here is an excerpt from my book, The Red Circle: My Life in the Navy SEAL Sniper Corps and How I Trained America’s Deadliest Marksmen. I’ll share with you things that made me into what I am now. Have a glimpse at a Navy SEAL’s childhood.

My Childhood’s Rite of Passage

Every culture has its rites of passage.

Native American adolescents journeyed into the wilderness for days on end in vision quests aimed at gaining life direction from an animal spirit, or totem, through a fast-induced dream. For Australian aborigines, it was the walkabout, young males trekking the outback for as long as six months to trace the ceremonial paths or dreaming tracks taken by their ancestors. Mormon boys ages nineteen to twenty-five are sent around the world for two years to do full-time mission work.

For me, it was shorter and simpler. My rite of passage came when I was thrown off a boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean by my dad a few weeks past my sixteenth birthday. I had to find my own path home from that oceanic wilderness, and it turned out to be a path that ultimately led to the most elite sniper corps in the world.

I don’t know if you’d call that a dreaming track, exactly, but you could say it was a path taken by my ancestors, at least in one sense: my father was thrown out of the house at age sixteen by his father, too. And I suppose the only way to make sense out of my story is to start with him.

Jack and Lynn

Jack Webb grew up in Toronto, short, strong, and stocky. A talented hockey player and avid drummer, he was always a bit of a wild man. A true child of the sixties, Jack grew out his full black beard as soon as his hormones would cooperate. His father hewed to old-fashioned values and threatened to kick Jack out if he didn’t cut his beard and long hair. When my father refused, out, he went.

My grandfather may have thrown his son out, but he failed in changing his mind. To this day, my dad still sports a full beard, though its black is now flecked with gray.

Now on his own, Jack made his way from Toronto to Malibu, where he picked up landscaping jobs and soon had his own company. Driving home from a job one day, he picked up three young hippie girls hitchhiking. One of them, a free spirit named Lynn, became his wife.