From former Navy SEAL Brandon Webb’s memoir, a New York Times Best Seller, The Red Circle.

I was just finishing my platoon training at SEAL Team 3 and was trying to keep a secret…it didn’t work out very well for me. Enjoy…

Probably the most memorable “training” I received during the entire eighteen months of our platoon’s work-up was not an official training at all, and I sure never got a certificate for it. But it made a lasting impression.

Not long after we met, Gabriele and I had a date set for our wedding. My family had spent good money on the preparations. But for whatever crazy reasons kids do crazy things, around the second week of MAROPS, we decided we couldn’t wait any longer. We quietly eloped, snuck off to Vegas and hit a chapel.

When we got back I said, “Look, my mom will kill me if I tell her what we did. She’s planned this whole big thing. She’ll be devastated.” I swore Gabriele to secrecy. I couldn’t let my mother find out, and since my sister Rhiannon was living right in the area and going to San Diego State, we couldn’t let her find out either.

That same evening we went out to dinner at a nice place with the guys from the platoon, all there with their wives and girlfriends. Somehow the news leaked out. I suspect Gabriele just couldn’t keep it to herself and that she took one of her friends into the ladies room and whispered it to her. The next thing you know I was tying myself in knots trying to defend this little white lie. “Hey,” one of the guys said, “I heard you got married?”

“No,” I said quickly, “someone doesn’t know what they’re talking about.” I completely denied it. But SEALs are resourceful. This was 1999, still the covered-wagon days of the Internet, but they went web surfing and managed to find our Clark County marriage certificate online.

A few days later I was due to receive a conduct award at Friday quarters. This is something that typically comes around every four years, if you have managed to stay out of trouble. Friday morning rolled around, we all mustered for quarters, and I heard my name called out. I went and stood in front of the whole team and our CO Capt. McRaven (Harward was gone by now) began reading out what I fully expected was going to be a conduct award. He started out by reading my name, rank, training history … and then he veered off into some pretty bizarre stuff, including a description of my sexual orientation, and then launched into a long list of “atrocities” I’d committed—concluding with how I had lied to my platoon. (I later learned that Chief Dan had written it. I wish I had a copy. It was a masterpiece.)