- Associated Press - Sunday, June 4, 2017

MOUNTAIN PINE, Ark. (AP) - Adam Brown was said to have lived life with an uncommon resolve, so it’s not surprising how the underwater memorial honoring the fallen Navy SEAL found its place at the toe of Blakely Mountain Dam.

The scuba divers who wanted to celebrate the life of the Lake Hamilton alumnus after reading “Fearless: The Undaunted Courage and Ultimate Sacrifice of Navy SEAL Team SIX Operator Adam Brown” had intended to put the memorial 47 feet below the surface of Lake Ouachita.

“That’s where the dam ends, and the lake bed is smooth, it becomes like the surface of the moon,” said William Stevens, the founder of the Fearless Rock Underwater Memorial Fund. “In May of 2013 a tornado hit the lake and ruined visibility for the rest of the year. If you dove past 30 feet you’d need a flashlight.”

That June, the Fearless Rock divers began scouting shallower depths to put the memorial until they could decide on a final location. On July 23, they tied it on a crate and took it to the lake bed.

“I was just like we’re going to have to get the memorial in the water,” Stevens said. “We tied some knots on a rope marking where we thought we should put it temporarily. Four divers carried it down on a wood crate.

“It was the neatest thing. I cut one of the ropes. (Eddie Rogers III) cut one of the other ropes. The pallet it was on shot up, and the rock fell into place. It was very solid, and it made a noise that sounded like it was put there with a purpose.”

The Fearless Rock was determined to settle amid the riprap of the dam’s upstream toe, 24 feet deep, the Sentinel-Record (https://bit.ly/2rFxLgd ) reported. A red flag bearing 24 protrudes from the surface to mark the location.

“The number 24 is very important to Adam,” Stevens said. “It was the number he wore in high school.”

Reposing the memorial on the smooth surface of the lake bed wouldn’t have suited Brown given the rocky circumstances the prologue to his March 17, 2010, death in Kunar province, Afghanistan. Before Brown battled the Taliban, he warred with himself, beating back the addiction that led him down an errant path and ultimately to the Garland County Detention Center.

The “Fearless” biography includes a picture of Brown’s mug shot and recounts how he drew strength from the Philippians 4:13 Bible verse, the words of which are written on the memorial.

Stevens said the Fearless Rock crew intends to make the memorial more representative of the selflessness Brown displayed in death and throughout his life, explaining that Brown wouldn’t be comfortable as the lone honoree.

“Our goal is to place an additional memorial that honors every Arkansas service member that’s been lost since 911,” Stevens said, noting that Fearless Rock is the only memorial people can dive on that honors fallen service members. “We’re trying to figure out how we’re going to do that, because if Adam had anything to say about it, he would want it to honor other people, not just himself.”

The divers have taken a step toward that end, augmenting the site in July 2015 to honor those lost in the Aug. 6, 2011, Extortion 17 helicopter crash in Afghanistan. Stevens said the passengers included SEAL Team SIX members whom Brown drew enemy gunfire away from on the night he was killed.

Putting himself in harm’s way that night to save others was the last selfless act in a life of selflessness.

“The addition honors most of Adam’s teammates that were working on the night he died,” Stevens said. “Off to the side we have an additional memorial that honors them.”

The Fearless Rock divers have also found a way to honor living service members, taking veterans from the Wounded Warrior Project to visit the memorial Every August.

“We dive with them, and they get to go down and pay honor to Adam and his family,” Stevens said.

As the keepers of the memorial, the Fearless Rock group can be found there most weekends. They clean the plaque that’s sealed into the rock and the coins and other tokens of admiration for Brown that adorn the site. Among the items is a Batman belt buckle sent by an 8-year-old boy in Virginia.

His father had read Brown’s biography and showed his son the passage that described how Brown was wearing Batman underwear the night he was killed. Stevens said a Batman belt buckle was all the boy wanted for Christmas, but he parted with it after learning about Brown’s bravery.

The reaction is one that’s been expressed the world over, Stevens said. From South Africa to Germany, people have related how the lessons they’ve taken from Brown’s life have affected change in their own.

“When we started this, we never had an idea about how big this thing was going to get,” he said. “It’s been pretty humbling. There’s so many people that have said Adam’s story changed their lives.”

Brown’s charisma seems to radiate from the Fearless Rock, Stevens said, creating the sense that a part of his spirit abides where he intended: On the rocky slope of Blakely Mountain Dam, 24 feet below the surface.

“A lot of people, that when they dive on this memorial, they feel like there’s something else down there,” Stevens said. “We built the memorial, but there are times when I’m down there that I still get very emotional. It touches people.”


Information from: The Sentinel-Record, https://www.hotsr.com

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