I was having the best time in California that the thought of leaving again and spending my days out at sea, away from my friends didn’t sound exciting to me. In this excerpt from The Red Circle: My Life in the Navy SEAL Sniper Corps and How I Trained America’s Deadliest Marksmen, you’ll read about the Navy SEAL Origins of Brandon Webb and how I got kicked off the boat and left alone in the Pacific Ocean at 16.

End of An Era

At the close of my freshman year at Ventura High, my parents decided the time was finally right for us to embark on our world-encircling sailing trip on the Agio. They had saved enough money, and they knew that the longer they put it off, the older Rhiannon and I would be. They figured, better do it while we were still young enough to go along with the family’s plans.

Whenever they would talk about this voyage, I would ignore it and hope the whole idea would go away. I was having a great time working on the Peace and enjoying the incredible freedom of my harbor lifestyle. Because of my position as a deckhand, most of the shop owners assumed I was much older than I really was. I was never carded for drinks when the boys and I went out for dinner. I was quite content in my own little world at the harbor. Sailing off to faraway places didn’t sound thrilling to me. I had more important things to do—like diving, surfing, chasing girls, and getting my driver’s license.

Unknown to me at the time, Captain Bill talked to my parents and offered to let me stay with him on the Peace if they wanted to leave me behind. They appreciated the offer, but no, they decided, the time had come, and we were going to make this trip all together as a family. They put Rhiannon and me on independent studies for a year, and we started packing up the boat to leave. The plan was to sail to New Zealand and see how things shook out. If things went well that far, we’d make the rest of the trip around the world, and if things weren’t going as well as we hoped, well, we could always turn back at that point.

Just as we were getting ready to leave, we had an unexpected visit from friends we’d known back in Kimberley: Ken and Gail, parents of my childhood pal Justin. I was shocked when I saw them; we all were. They were both a complete mess, especially Gail, and we soon learned why.

In addition to being total ski animals, Justin and I had also been rabid hockey buffs even at the tender age of five. While my knee problems had later benched me, Justin had kept playing competitively right up through high school. Ken told us that Justin had been in a freak hockey accident earlier that year. He got body-checked by another player, went down, and hit his head on the ice pretty hard, hard enough to give him a concussion. They took him home and put him to bed.

He never woke up.

When I heard what happened, the bottom fell out of my stomach. I couldn’t believe Justin was gone. It had been nearly ten years since I’d seen him, but I’d always known he was there, somewhere, probably doing a lot of the same things I was doing. Only now he wasn’t.