I first met Brandon Webb when I was a student in the Naval Special Warfare Sniper Course.

Sniper school was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done, in some ways even more difficult than the infamous ordeal known as BUD/S, or Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training, that every SEAL undergoes. The sniper course starts with a stalking phase, which is all about stealth and concealment, training us to crawl painstaking inches and yards undetected across enemy-held territory. I have to be honest: this was not easy for me. The shooting part came naturally. The stalking part did not. I’m a pretty big guy, and trying to make myself look like an ice plant or manzanita bush instead of a six-foot Texan… it just wasn’t happening. I don’t know how I would have gotten through it if it weren’t for Brandon being my instructor.

Brandon and his cadre were incredibly tough on us. They were intent on making us some of the best special forces operators in the field, and I have to admit: In that they succeeded. As I say in my book, Brandon’s standards were so high they would have made an Apache scout gasp. But it wasn’t just a matter of making our lives hard. Brandon went beyond the call. He set aside time after course hours to answer questions and work with all the students. He mentored me, and did whatever it took to make sure I knew my stuff.

Graduating sniper school was one of the proudest achievements of my life.