Funny story, but I never would have read this book if people at my second job hadn’t started calling each other “Chuck” around the office. It became a thing—“Hey, Chuck, I need _____!” “Chuck, can you get this for me?” “Chuck!”
Turns out that this book is behind that silly bit of office shennanigans. It’s the memoir of a Navy SEAL, and Chuck Pfarrer pulls no punches as he tells the tale of how he graduated from a surfer dude to one bad-ass mo-fo. It made the rounds at the office, and I finally got a chance to get my hands on it about a month ago.
It took me a while to get through this book. At times, it was a difficult read. I’m not familiar with a lot of the military jargon or abbreviations that were used throughout Mr. Pfarrer’s story. That didn’t make it any less compelling, it just meant that instead of devouring it in a week or two as I usually do with books these days, it took me over a month because I was side-checking definitions or looking things up on the internet.
Chuck talks about most everything as candidly as can be expected—though, of course, there are some points where he has to be vague because of state secrets. You can’t expect him to go into detail about what he learned about terrorist tactics, blowing up buildings and ships, etc. That in no way detracts from the action or flair for dramatic detail he goes into when he does specifically recall certain incidents, such as his last mission—jumping out of an in-flight Boeing 727 so military air traffic control can test if a free falling SEAL team can be detected on radar. By the end of the first chapter, your heart will be in your mouth and you’ll quickly find yourself sucked into the story of how Chuck worked his way from being a military brat who moved around the country with his family to arriving as a “surfer hippie dude” at the toughest military school in the country. He graduates the Staunton Military Academy only to go on to CSU Northridge to study psychology, of all things.
Then, the fateful moment. He decides that his life was boring and, to spice things up, he should join the Navy to become a SEAL.
You follow his story of how he worked up the ranks, the training he went through, and then, finally, to some of the missions he carried out during his time as a SEAL. Chuck is very blunt about his own personal faults, his observations of people and operations, and does a good job at expressing his opinions by for the most part showing his actions instead of telling you how he felt about what was going on. You get a real feel for some of the places he’s been, the people he met, and the conditions he had to endure. He makes no apologies for his mistakes, though he does recognize them and makes no effort to soften them when he reveals some of his infidelities.
I’ve never read anything quite like this before. It’s an excellent book, and a very heartfelt story. You find yourself caught up in the suspense and drama of the moment as shells fall around, the search is on for snipers, and would-be terrorists are caught before they can bomb a ship. You curse at the slow-turning wheels of diplomacy as terrorists get away with murder, grip the edge of your seat as you wait for a rescue that might not come, and possibly shed a tear as the last remaining mark of Chuck’s military service is taken away.
For someone who doesn’t read memoir, this book really hit a note with me. As I mentioned, I haven’t read anything like it before. Honestly? I think it is the first memoir I’ve ever read. Chuck’s story gave me a lot to think about, and really drove home what it must be like for some of our country’s finest to be enlisted. This is a fabulous story, and I highly recommend it.