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BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Trident’

- - Sunday, December 22, 2013

THE TRIDENT: THE FORGING AND REFORGING OF A NAVY SEAL LEADER
By Jason Redman with John R. Bruning
William Morrow, $26.99, 304 pages

The sign on the wounded Navy SEAL's hospital door at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda was written on poster paper with a black Sharpie. The sign begins with the word "Attention."

And the sign went on to receive national attention.

Lt. Jason Redman's sign read: "ATTENTION TO ALL WHO ENTER HERE. If you are coming into this room with sorrow or to feel sorry for my wounds, go elsewhere. The wounds I received, I got in a job I love, doing it for people I love, supporting the freedom of a country I deeply love. I am incredibly tough and will make a full recovery. What is full? That is the absolute utmost physically my body has the ability to recover. Then I will push that about 20% further through sheer mental tenacity. This room you are about to enter is a room of fun, optimism and intense rapid re-growth. If you are not prepared for that, go elsewhere. From: The Management."

Jason Redman, author of "The Trident: The Forging and Reforging of a Navy SEAL Leader," is a highly decorated former Navy SEAL lieutenant who served as an enlisted SEAL for 11 years and nearly 10 years as a SEAL officer. He commanded mobility and assault forces in Colombia, Peru, Afghanistan and Iraq. Lt. Redman conducted more than 40 capture-kill missions with his men in Iraq, locating more than 120 al Qaeda insurgents.

While leading a mission against a key al Qaeda commander in Iraq, Lt. Redman was seriously wounded in 2007. After suffering through a horrendous recovery, he returned to active duty. He retired from the Navy in 2013.

"The Trident" is a not only a tale of a Navy SEAL in action and his grueling medical recovery after being wounded. The book is also a touching story of Lt. Redman's love for his wife and children and their vital support during his recuperation. The book also offers a candid and blunt appraisal of his failures as a SEAL officer. Although he states he was a good enlisted SEAL operator, Lt. Redman recounts his many shortcomings as an officer, admitting freely that he drank too much and that he had been arrogant.

While serving in Afghanistan in 2005, Lt. Redman heard that his fellow SEALs were calling him "Rambo Red." Being compared to the unrealistic, silly lone-wolf film character was considered a supreme insult in the teams, Lt. Redman informs the reader.

In Afghanistan, Lt. Redman made a series of bad leadership calls and a tactical combat error that put himself and his men in jeopardy. He comes close to being kicked off the teams and losing his precious "Trident." Lt. Redman writes of finally realizing his faults and describes how he worked hard to win back the respect of his brother SEALs.

Lt. Redman describes in chilling detail how he was shot in the face and arm at close range with an al Qaeda machine gun. He then goes on to offer a fine passage that describes the enemy in Iraq and why the SEALs were there to fight them:

"We have seen pure evil since our arrival in this wasteland. Cruelty beyond compare. The men we fight tonight are the bodyguards of that evil, whose professions to their faith justify the twisted acts done in their god's name. Torture. Beheadings. Suicide bombings. Marketplaces filled with broken bodies of women and children, slain for sheer terror's sake. We have seen them kill their own family members in their attempts to kill us and then justify it as the will of Allah. They are instigators of chaos and hate. Murder is their means of manipulation. They cow the local population by making gruesome examples of those who stand against them. I have always seen us as their reckoning, as agents of justice, swift and true, who will mete out their fate."

While traveling to various hospitals for his many surgeries, Lt. Redman noticed the rude and insensitive reactions of the public. He saw children pointing at his scarred face and people stared, acting embarrassed. They refused to talk to him. Rather than being bitter, Lt. Redman went online and began to design T-shirts. The first one read: "STOP STARING, I GOT SHOT BY A MACHINE GUN. IT WOULD HAVE KILLED YOU."

From that first T-shirt, Lt. Redman started a nonprofit corporation called "Wounded Wear." Wounded Wear helps wounded warriors recover through clothing, events and networking. Lt. Redman also offers motivational speaking about leadership and facing adversity.

"The Trident" is a frank, compelling and inspiring chronicle of an American warrior's journey.

Paul Davis, a Navy veteran who served on an aircraft carrier during the Vietnam War, is a writer who covers law enforcement, intelligence and the military.