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Co-author:: William Doyle

The last time I reviewed a book by Dick Couch it was a brilliantly written book about the Special Forces and the behind the scenes training. It was called Choosen Soldier. Now Mr. Couch has written many other books and it is sad to admit that I have not gotten around to reading many of them. Give me time, mates. It is no surprise that I’m a big fan of all things special forces. I know … shocking (of course, the tons of Navy SEALs book on my site pretty much kills the subtlety factor). So naturally, when this appeared on my stacks, I could not help restrain myself. But enough with the blah-blah-blah and let’s get this review on it’s way, shall we?
Navy SEALs is a well written book that takes the reader from its origins to the present theater and role of operations. It is also, seemingly, a tender tribute to the SEALs, past, present and future: Mr. Couch’s alum. Needless to say, but some of the stories in are a bit tough to stomach but it makes you more appreciative of these past heroes (both alive and deceased). Some of the tough stories took place during World War II when the unit was known as Naval Demolition Combat Units (NDCU) and eventually Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT). One such story took place during the Normandy invasion. Now over the years of watching various celluloid depictions of the Normandy invasion, it was mostly from a Marine or Army perspective and … yes … it was a bit tough. However, reading about the NDCU’s role during the Normandy invasion was a bit scary. For starters, most of the naval demolitioneers went into battle with very little (a fortunate few carried a sidearm) and they had to set up explosives on a beach where bullets and mortar was raining down on them from HIGH ground. Some never made it to shore since mortar rockets detonated explosive ordinance in their boats … and let’s just say it was not pretty. Today, SEAL team operators are more prepared to deal with situations from a team level to an individual level (heaven forbid should things get so grim). In the earlier stages, things were a bit dicier for the forbearers of what was to become Naval Special Warfare. And though there were some tough moments, there were a few decent breaks like during their training in Korean waters, during the Korean war, many naval combat divers found themselves sharing waters with bare-breasted, female pearl divers. Hey, it was a tough job and someone HAD to do it.
Though the SEALs have evolved over the years, as they moved closer into the twenty-first century there were still many lessons that forged them in the elite fighting unit that they are to this day. Sadly, some of these lessons were learned the hard way in places like Vietnam, Grenada, Panama and the Afghanistan.

Though Untold Story is centered around the SEALs, it is a tribute to all those that serve in the special operations community. Those that are called upon to do the extraordinary, to go where many fear to tread and at times prevail (or sacrifice) amidst the evils and horrors that exist in those dark corners of the world daring to reach forth its tentacles on the rest of civilization. Well written and tremendously touching, the stories compiled by Couch will keep readers riveted and in the end, filled with appreciation and admiration even more for these brave men. May God bless them all and their days under the sun.

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Running Title: Chosen Soldier – The Making Of A Special Forces Warrior.

In Chosen Soldier, Dick Couch take the reader on an intimate journey through the training process for the Special Forces. This is a much welcomed and spirited read for those of us that are fascinated by and admire the members of the armed forces. Dick Couch, a former Navy SEAL, brings more than just real-time narrative as he interjects a bit of his experience of being part of the special operations community. This adds tremendously to the experience and makes the reading a bit more interesting as Chosen Soldier removes the bloodthirsty, gun-toting, Neanderthal, Rambo-type imagery that is often generated by little alcoves in Hollywood and the scores of wannabes that has never set foot in Bragg or Coronado. From the moment the candidates step off the bus in North Carolina onwards through the four crucial phases, the readers are guided intimately by Couch as he demonstrates nothing more than pure fondness and admiration for these valiant and brave young man … as would a father of an extraordinarily gifted child. The training is rigorous and taxing. And though brawn is required, far more is demanded of the brain as SF candidates are required to learn, in depth, everything from weapons, communications, medical procedures and battlefield negotiations. In a sense, they are not just being trained to be warriors but also … teachers. I’m guessing the wank that came up with the phrase “those who can’t do … teach” has never met a Special Forces member and wouldn’t dare to say it to their face. Good luck on that one, mate.
There are some unexpected moments that appear in a book that seem centered on special forces training such as the expectant birth of SF candidate Miguel Santos’ daughter. To some this may seem soft, but this is what the Special Forces are made up off: ordinary people training to do extraordinary things for the love their fellow man and country. Another fascinating bit learned about the Special Forces: despite the popularity of elite units in the world such as the British SAS and the French Foreign Legion, there are many that come from around the world to be a part of the US Army Special Forces. It is indeed a testimony to its training and its operators. Some came from Africa (Patrick Kwele), Norway (Instructor Micheal Jariss) and even a gentleman that took a pass on the New Zealand SAS regiment waiting list.

On thing that this book does NOT do ( and some just might say so) is glorify war. If anything, it shows the grim and seriousness of it all as valiant men are preparing themselves for the moment they are called to put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of a nation and all that is good. This is not Hollywood or any sort of videogame bolllocks. And as candidates pass through the various phases of their training, those that fail are treated with the same accord as those that have succeeded: with respect and dignity. There is no emasculation for those that fail, but (surprisingly) encouragement and advice for those that seek to try again. In the instructor’s minds these men have stepped up to an extraordinary challenge and that alone is admirable.

Dick Couch’s Chosen Soldier is in many ways, an eye-opener which debunks many a myth and lore (often generated by wannabes) about the physical, social and psychological aspects of Special Forces training. It brings to light the intelligence and courage that accompany these men, from all walks of life, that take up that calling to be a Special Forces member. Most of all it adds to the existent adoration that many of share of members of the special operations community. For those that are seriously (and that’s serious with a capital S) contemplating joining the Special Forces, then this is the book to read.

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