Sunday, November 13, 2011
It would be years before I finally got the chance to go to selection, and I didn't make it the first time. I smoked all the physical and mental tests, but my interpersonal skills were not up to par. At the end of Selection I was non-selected as "too much of a loner."
I didn't want to go back. It was a hard school, and I felt like a redo was just too much work. So I spent four more years in the regular army, working my way up from specialist to sergeant, to staff sergeant, and gaining experience as a soldier and as a leader. After fifteen months in Afghanistan, during which I served as a squad leader in combat for more than a year, I felt readier and went to selection again with a very clear plan in my head: I would either make it and go Special Forces, or I would finish my enlistment and get out. At the time I was strongly thinking of entering the seminary if SF didn't work out for me.
The second time through was ten times worse than the first time. They had shortened it from 24 days to 14 days, but still had all the same events, and some of them were even harder than I remembered. The shortened timeline meant very little sleep, no time for food, and a much more distant and stoic cadre. When I finished, still standing tall at the end, I knew it was only the grace of God that had gotten me through. Once you are selected that certificate is good for two years. You don't have to decide to go to the Qualification course right away. I had planned on taking some time off, not making my decision right away, but taking some time to think and pray about whether SF was really what I wanted to do, but when I sat down with the Cadre who was counselling me on my selection at the end, something else happened. He said, "Congratulations you have been selected. Do you want to accept your selection right now?" I opened my mouth and the words, "Yep, and I want to be a medic," came tumbling out of my mouth. It was not my plan, but as soon as I said it I felt like it was a pretty good plan after all. I had already been a regular army engineer for six years. Why not do something different. The Cadre was surprised, but he signed me up for it. I also got my first choice of language, which was Korean.
Fast forward almost three years, through Airborne School, leadership training, Korean School, Small Unit Tactics, SERE school, the year long Medic School, culminating last month with the famous "Robin Sage" exercise.
This is me shaking hands with my Dad.
It has been a long road, and it ain't over yet. It's just begun. I now have a three year commitment to an operational Special Forces group, with many deployments around the world ahead of me. I have a commitment to furthering my medical knowledge and skill level, possibly becoming an MD eventually. Add to all of this that I have a deep certainty that Special Forces is not my ultimate calling. God is calling me to something else, and SF is just a step on that road. I don't know what it is, yet, but I think it will be cool.
He is faithful. HE has gotten me this far. I have no fear.