The Right Coast

July 20, 2005
Note from former SEAL
By Tom Smith

This interesting note from a former Navy SEAL and student of mine, who is now a lawyer for the Navy.

Thanks for mentioning the memorial in Hawaii in RC. I thought you might also be interested in the ceremony that was held at the Naval Academy yesterday for LCDR Erik Kristensen, a classmate of mine. I haven't seen any reporting on it today; probably because Annapolis isn't the open campus it used to be. There wasn't a camera or reporter in sight thankfully. There were, however, thousands of mourners. It was the first time I have seen the chapel there filled to capacity. Erik's roommate made one of many moving eulogies, the content of which both encapsulated and transcended the ceremony. He emphasized what a truly outstanding person Erik was in every regard and, reverently, that it is just such men whom we require to lead our forces in combat. The term "special trust and confidence" is not a hollow phrase. It represents the profound significance we attach to protecting and taking life. The bitter irony is that because we value this responsibility so dearly, we lose some of our very best on the battlefield. In my own mind, I contrasted this to our current enemies; content to let exploitable minions blow themselves to bits along with the softest of targets. That is more than a difference of strength or tactics; it is a cultural difference as wide as the ocean.