I picked up “Suffer in Silence” by David Reid primarily because the author managed to get a supporting quote from Chris Mauro, editor of SURFER Magazine. I am a big fan of Mauro’s work, and now I’m a big fan of Reid’s writing too.
As a naval officer, I’ve encountered my share of Navy SEALs. Of any branch of the service, I would guess that the SEALs have the highest proportion of surfers in their ranks. In fact, a lot of the Vietnam-era SEALs I know joined Special Warfare simply because they thought it would offer them a greater opportunity to surf than sitting on a destroyer. Little did they know what they were in for!
I highly recommend Reid’s book for an inside look at the insanity and absolute depravity of Navy SEAL training. As Mauro’s supporting comments indicated, most people look at the ocean as something to be enjoyed, something relaxing. SEAL instructors view the ocean as the perfect testing ground for future commandos. “Surf torture” is a common means of disciplining trainees who haven’t met the instructors’ expectations. Combined with miles and miles of running through soft sand and frigid ocean swims, you have the perfect recipe for misery.
From a surfer’s point of view, the well-described scenes of trainees getting destroyed aboard their rafts in monster surf is hugely entertaining. Imagine a choppy 10-foot set rolling in. Now imagine the instructors timing the set so that the trainees paddle into the break-zone at exactly the wrong time. And when the instructors get bored, they make the trainees paddle back through the surf with their rafts turned upside down.
In short, I just thought I’d recommend the book for those looking for a good read. SEALs have always maintained that surfers do far better in training than the average guy. After reading Reid’s book, it’s clear why that’s the case. All that cold water immersion and experience in the surf pays off for a handful of somewhat “touched” sailors.