Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What's in a SEAL?

Today my guest is Sharon Hamilton, who writes paranormal and contemporary sensual romance. She is currently working on a three-novel series involving Navy SEALS. Her debut novel, Angel, is launching in May. She also writes erotic shorts under the pen name Angela Love. And while Sharon is taking over Terry's Place, I'm over at The Blood Red Pencil talking more about using Track Changes from the author's viewpoint. Welcome, Sharon.

My son is a Navy SEAL. His graduating class started with 192 trainees, and by the time the class was through, 7 of the original men were left. My son was the youngest in the group.

You can imagine what goes through your mind when your child tells you he has elected to put himself in harm’s way. One of the first things I told him was that he was a better person than I was. But I didn’t realize what kind of a course they would be going through, and what kind of commitment it took to finish.

In the original class, there was a Senator’s son, an astronaut’s son, captains of several Annapolis and West Point sports teams, and several pro football players. There was a young man who gave up his chance to compete in the Olympics to try out. Most of these didn’t make it. No shame in that. The training teaches a young man what his limits are. The ones that remain would jump off a twelve-story building if they were told. Just like the young SEAL did in Iraq when he fell on a grenade and saved four other team guy’s lives, at the expense of his own. And he’d already been wounded earlier in the day.



My son says he feels lucky to have found something he loves doing at such a young age. He looks over at his mom and grins. I’m on my 3rd career and am now a full time writer.

My husband and I just returned from a few days to visit him in San Diego, where he had been sent for a special training. We went down to the beach while he was working, and watched the young recruits moving their boats over the boulders, getting “wet and sandy” and familiarizing themselves with becoming a team, thinking as a team, adjusting for each other’s capabilities and shortcomings, to achieve a desired outcome.

I am writing a series of SEAL stories now, and asked him to take us to a favorite tattoo parlor and one of the grills team guys would hang out. I asked him how he would know another guy belonged to a team. He told me it was the eye contact. And then he added, “Look for a group of guys who dress completely different, but are all doing the same thing.”

Just after he’d graduated and received his Trident, we bought some furniture for him and his buddies, who were sharing an apartment. They were using a cardboard box for a TV stand, and didn’t mind sitting on the floor to eat because they didn’t have a table. We brought them some boxes of furniture from IKEA, laid them on the floor. All of the guys came over and the 6 of us sat in a circle, without saying a word, and put the furniture together. Everything was done in about twenty minutes. There was no leader. No bravado. It was a lesson in total cooperation and commitment to an objective.

I hope my stories will let others know about these fine young men, from all walks of life and backgrounds. If I have even a thimbleful of his courage, I’ll achieve that goal of writing stories and characters you readers will remember for years.

For more about Sharon, you can find her at her website, blog, on Facebook and Twitter.

23 comments:

Wynter Daniels said...

A SEAL is a true man's man. I can't imagine what it takes to become part of that elite force.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

You must be really proud of your son. Being a SEAL is an enormous accomplishment! I think it's nice that you've incorporated the SEALs into your stories.

Sharon Hamilton said...

Wynter,
You are so right. They are confident, usually not brash (except privately). When I sat with his graduating class and had breakfast with them, there wasn't a man there who didn't look me in the eyes, tell me thanks for letting my son be a part of their community. They are respectful, in a very basic, primal way.

Makes writing and getting rejection slips easy!

Sharon Hamilton said...

Elizabeth/Riley,
I am proud, and I hope to do them justice. And because of the nature of their work, they never get the recognition, but that's the way they are and the way they want it.

Wish I could take some credit for raising him, but it was all him. Very little me.

Angela Felsted said...

This is amazing, that your son is a SEAL. That he's this respectful and noble and courageous. You must be proud.

Sharon Hamilton said...

Angela,
I am. Can't you feel my grin?

Bob Mayer said...

Congratulations. I just visited the UDT/SEAL museum in Fort Pierce and it was quite interesting. I've also taught at Coronado at various times. Working in the water is extremely difficult. I commanded a maritime operations Special Forces team and it always seemed we had to work in cold water. Never the Bahamas or some place nice.

L.A. Lopez said...

As a mother and grandmother of Marines, it just swells you up with pride. I always ask myself what I did, or what gene pool they came from to give them such bravery. The SEALs are amazing. In my career in law enforcement, I worked with former SEALs, and they always had my back. I trusted them above all others.

Sharon Hamilton said...

Thanks, Bob. I am so honored you stopped by today. Thank you for your service.

My son calls himself a polar bear.

Sharon Hamilton said...

Lee,
Very touching comment. They do watch our backs.

Carly Carson said...

I left a comment earlier but Google ate it. Your stories will be so enriched by your inside knowledge. I can't wait to see them. And give yourself a bit more credit for how your son turned out. Though I agree, a person has to have a great deal of inner strength and resilience to make it through that kind of training, as evidenced by the numbers. Kudos to your son!

Sharon Hamilton said...

Thanks, Carly. I guess all the years of soccer tournaments all over the country and sleeping in hotel rooms with 8 other smelly boys paid off! I'm much happier he chose this profession. It's more of who he is.

Darynda said...

What a fantastic post, Sharon! How proud you must be.

My brother-in-law was first in the Army where he learned to fly helicopters. Then he did two years in Her Majesty's Air Force in England. Then he was a commander in the Coast Guard for a long time before he retired. He's now one of those helicopter pilots who helps put out forest fires. He told me Navy Seals are not what you think they are. They're not anything like they are portrayed in the movies. He said the huge guys with enough muscle to move a small mountain don't make it through the training. It's the leaner ones that have an unending supply of endurance that make it through. Those big guys are carrying around too much muscle to and it weighs them down.

Anyway, just thought that was such an interesting observation. He also said they are the baddest of the bad. Very cool boys!!!

Super congrats, Sharon!!!

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

I know how much dedication this takes. And how much courage! Not just his, yours too! What a fine young man!

Riley Quinn said...

Great post, Sharon. I know you're proud of your son and it's partly that pride and desire to honor him that you are writing these books. Like Carly said, I'm sure your inside info will add a lot of realism to them and I'm looking forward to reading them.

Sharon Hamilton said...

Darinda,
Thank you so much for your kind words. Your brother-in-law sounds like a pretty cool hero as well. He is spot on. These guys just keep going. I asked him what helped him through and he said, "I just couldn't ring that d***** bell. I hated that thing." And every time he heard it go off, he thought to himself, "Yes, I'm still here."

Wonderful to see you here today!

Sharon Hamilton said...

Sorry: D-A-R-Y-N-D-A!

Sharon Hamilton said...

Julia,
You are so right. But it truly is all him and very little me. I guess I should have known when I caught him doing flips out our second story bedroom window onto the trampoline when he was six years old!

Sharon Hamilton said...

Riley,
Thank you so much for your encouragement and belief in me. That has meant a lot to me over the past few months.

They are characters, for sure, and the more "research" I do **sigh** the more impressed even I am.

Arletta Dawdy said...

Flips out the second story window at 6??? How long were you in therapy, Mom???Just kidding but it is interesting to look back and see the seeds of their futures in past behaviors. My archaeologist daughter whined about why she was stuck with indoor chores when brother got to work outdoors. She started to dig in the dirt right away. He's gone indoors, studying to be a nurse...go figure.
Great story and perfect home-made research source.

Sharon Hamilton said...

Yes! Research! And all his "buds" too! I've had people lining up to volunteer to be my assistant.

jennyhansenauthor said...

I live in Southern California and we drive through Camp Pendleton and then down by the SEALS training area often. I've always wanted to know more about there training. It's so amazing to me, what they go through.

Polar bear...your son sounds like a delightful young man.

Sharon Hamilton said...

Thanks, Jenny. He's the reason I thank every man or woman I see in uniform. And that's not meant to sound like a political statement. Much better than that.