Review of the book “Fearless”, Eric Blehm’s story of Navy SEAL Adam Brown
On the evening of March 17, 2010, Kelly Brown was awoken from a dream by the ringing of her doorbell. The sound haunts her even to this day, so much so that when she built her house in Arkansas, she had it built without a doorbell. The doorbell sounding in the middle of the night is a sound every military spouse dreads. While we become accustom to the phone ringing of all hours, the second we send our spouse off on a deployment, the doorbell becomes a frightening sound. Earlier that same evening, Kelly had a similar feeling of dread when the doorbell rang, only to discover it was a neighbor bringing over something she had ordered from a school fundraiser.
Kelly Brown was married to her husband for all of three weeks before Adam shipped of to the Naval Training Center in Great Lakes, Illinois. Adam’s plans were not to simply join the Navy, but to become a Navy SEAL. After eight weeks of basic training, Kelly was able to join him in Illinois for six months of A-School to become a Fireman, Interior Communications Electrician Striker. After that, they he was headed to BUD/S. Kelly was able to go with him on his training journey, becoming the rock that he clung to, his secret weapon for making it through BUD/S.
Kelly awoke at 3:30 every morning to make a hearty breakfast for her husband before driving him to PT formation at 4am. Then she cleaned the house, prepped for dinner, walked the dog and then headed off to her job at a travel agency. In the evenings she’d drive the 30 minutes to the BUD/S complex and wait for Adam to be finished for the day. She’d wait from 6pm until whenever he was done, sometimes as late as midnight. Then she’d do his laundry, feed him dinner, and occasionally shined boots for an inspection. Kelly always went above and beyond the call of duty as a military spouse.
Throughout Adam’s training to become a SEAL, Kelly was by his side. She gave birth to Nathaniel, their oldest, while Adam was still in training. She called in and asked that the message be relayed, “AFTER he completes the weapons practical this afternoon!” When BUD/S was completed, the Brown family moved to Virginia Beach where the rest of Adam’s career would be based. He went out on work-ups, trainings, and deployments on a regular basis. Adam went to additional schools and trainings, overcoming incredible odds.
Several times the phone would ring and Adam would tell Kelly, “I’m coming home,” which she soon learned meant he had gotten hurt. Once it was a blown out knee. Once it was a simulation round hitting his dominant eye, which he eventually had removed and replaced with a glass eye, after he passed Sniper School. And once it was when his vehicle flipped over in Afghanistan and his right hand was crushed and his fingers had to be reattached. After that recovery, Adam completed the Green Team assessment was placed on SEAL Team Six.
On his last scheduled deployment in 2010, after which Adam intended to leave the Navy, Kelly had a gate guard snap a family picture as the said goodbye, something they hadn’t done before. The day that Adam was killed proved his fearlessness and his heroism. But it also tells us a lot about Kelly, and her bravery and commitment. Throughout Kelly and Adam’s relationship, Adam had several battles with drugs. Kelly had stood by him through it all, eventually helping to pull him out of it and at one time, giving him a dose of the reality he needed to stay clean. The day of his death, that final mission, was a dreary day for the Brown children and Kelly. Kelly had written an email to Adam earlier that day and was disappointed when she hadn’t received an email by dinner time. She had a sick feeling, thinking of a funeral for him, eventually chalking it up to thinking “he was unhappy and missing us.”
That evening when Kelly was awoken by the doorbell, she knew what happened. Although she kept asking, “Are you sure?” she knew that her husband was gone. She was a rock for her children and she kept her family together. In August 2011, when two helicopters went down killing 30 US troops, Kelly gently broke the news to her children that some of their dad’s closest friends had also been killed. She travelled to 13 funerals, comforting new widows and their families, as she herself had been comforted just over a year before.
As I read this book and learned of the story of Adam Brown, I was amazed at his ferociousness for life, for his desire to do the best he could at everything. At his dedication to his family, his country, and his faith in God. I couldn’t help but side with Kelly, as I think most spouses would. I thought about how hard it must have been for her to go through workup and deployments continuously. To have a child alone. To get up at 3:30 am to make breakfast for her husband after going to bed only hours before. To tell her children their father wasn’t coming home, ever.
The strength that these two people found in each other is encouraging and inspiring. It has given me many things to ponder on as I look at the military lifestyle that I am so comfortable and familiar with. The title of the book, Fearless, refers to Adam, but I daresay that it is an appropriate title for Kelly Brown, too.
The book Fearless: The Undaunted Courage and Ultimate Sacrifice of Navy SEAL Team SIX Operator Adam Brown by Eric Blehm is an amazing read and can be purchased at www.fearlessnavyseal.com.