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Sea Stories

My Life in Special Operations

By William H. McRaven
15-minute read
Audio available
Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations by William H. McRaven

Sea Stories (2019) is a collection of William H. McRaven’s life tales, spanning from his childhood adventures through his 37-year career as a US Navy SEAL and commander of America’s Special Operations Forces. These blinks offer a personal look at the life of a courageous war hero as well as a first-hand account of some of the most famous missions in recent US history.

  • Fans of war and adventure stories
  • Leaders looking for inspiration
  • History and political science students seeking an inside look at the War on Terror

William H. McRaven is a retired four-star US Navy SEAL admiral and author of the number one New York Times best-seller Make Your Bed (2017). During his almost 40 years of service, McRaven became commander of America’s anti-terrorist and hostage rescue operations, which included the capture of Saddam Hussein and the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

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Sea Stories

My Life in Special Operations

By William H. McRaven
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations by William H. McRaven
Synopsis

Sea Stories (2019) is a collection of William H. McRaven’s life tales, spanning from his childhood adventures through his 37-year career as a US Navy SEAL and commander of America’s Special Operations Forces. These blinks offer a personal look at the life of a courageous war hero as well as a first-hand account of some of the most famous missions in recent US history.

Key idea 1 of 9

William McRaven was an adventurous child and once snuck into a high-security nuclear site.

In 1963, William McRaven’s father was reassigned from Fontainebleau, France to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas after suffering a minor stroke. There, in the military complex known as Medina Annex, McRaven was free to roam outdoors. But at the height of the Cold War, one area of the complex was strictly off-limits.

Surrounded by three eight-foot-high barbed wire fences, the high-security ammunition storage facility in Medina Annex was alleged to hold nuclear weapons. And in 1966, with the help of his friends Billie and Jon, McRaven had a plan to break into it.

“Operation Volcano,” as they called it, was inspired by spy stories and the volcanic-shaped Gravel Gertie bunkers in which the ammunition inside the facility was stored. The playful mission was to detect if activities that were a threat to their country were going on inside.

Armed with toy guns and hot-dogs as protection against the facility’s K-9 guard dogs, McRaven and his friends found a forested area of the fencing where they would attempt their entry. They slid long wooden planks against the chain-linked barrier, building a makeshift bridge to the other side.

Though Jon and Billie got cold feet, McRaven made it all the way to the top of the third fence before the sound of sirens and the advancing barks of guard dogs sent him into panic mode.

Air Police announced over a bull horn that the trespassers were in a restricted area and that the use of lethal force was authorized. Rather than turning himself over, McRaven sprinted back up the planks, dashing over the remaining two barriers. His Roy Rogers pearl-handled six-shooter cap gun fell behind in the process, but he and his friends managed to escape back to McRaven’s house undetected and unharmed.

One day not long after, McRaven’s father came home and asked his son if he knew anything about an attempted break-in at the ammunition storage facility. For the first time in his life, McRaven lied to his father, claiming to know nothing about it. A look of disappointment filled his father’s eyes. But to his relief, he was let go without further questioning.

That night, as he climbed into bed, his six-shooter cap gun was on the nightstand beside him. And though the incident taught him never to lie to his father again, it certainly didn’t quash his appetite for adventure.

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