The Hero Code Book Summary - The Hero Code Book explained in key points
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The Hero Code summary

William H. McRaven

Lessons Learned from Lives Well Lived

3.8 (114 ratings)
19 mins
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    The Hero Code
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    Heroes always strive to be courageous.

    In October 2011, Admiral William H. McRaven was sitting in the command center of his Special Operations headquarters in Tampa, Florida when the daily casualty report came through, bringing word of the night’s fatalities. The news was particularly bad.

    Overnight, a mission in Afghanistan had gone wrong. Three soldiers on a routine mission had come across a booby-trapped Taliban compound, accidentally triggering a powerful pressure-plate mine. When it exploded, all three were killed.

    The loss of three soldiers was a serious blow to their teams in Afghanistan – not to mention their families back home. But for McRaven, there was also a personal element to the loss; he was responsible for one of the soldiers, Lieutenant Ashley White, being in Afghanistan in the first place. To him, she’d always been a model of courage.

    The key message here is: Heroes always strive to be courageous.

    In 2008, Admiral McRaven had identified a gap in the military’s strategy in Afghanistan. The vast majority of the soldiers on the ground were men – a fact which was causing trouble in dealing with some Afghan women.

    These women often had vital information about the Taliban’s activities, but they were usually reluctant to share it with male soldiers. So McRaven established female Cultural Support Teams, tasked with collecting the vital information that servicemen struggled to secure.

    From the start, McRaven knew any women undertaking this role would need a lot of courage – after all, they’d be doing their jobs in live combat situations. Lieutenant White, an early volunteer, had both courage and ability in abundance. At Fort Bragg, North Carolina, she underwent intense physical and psychological training, which she took in stride. And when the time came for actual deployment, Lieutenant White’s bravery never flagged. Night after night, she threw on her body armor, took hold of her gun, and journeyed into the darkness, not knowing whether, this time, she’d make it out alive.

    When Lieutenant White died in October 2011, America lost a promising young soldier, and her loved ones lost even more than that. But the bravery she embodied survives, a shining example to us all.

    Most of us are never required to show our bravery in as heroic a manner as Lieutenant White did – but we all face challenges in our lives. Whether it’s the courage to face your inner demons, to provide a safe home for your family, or just to stand up for what you know is right, try taking the first step forward: that’s often the most daunting part.

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    What is The Hero Code about?

    The Hero Code (2021) is a four-star admiral’s guide to modern-day heroism. Drawing on Admiral McRaven’s experiences in the field and in civilian life, it interweaves stirring life advice with gripping and dramatic anecdotes.

    Who should read The Hero Code?

    • Military buffs interested in a retired admiral’s battlefield insights
    • Anyone in need of some wise and helpful life advice
    • Youngsters considering a career in the military

    About the Author

    William H. McRaven is a retired United States Navy four-star admiral. His final assignment was as commander of all US Special Operations Forces. He’s the author of two other popular books, Make Your Bed and Sea Stories.

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