Jason Redman’s story of his struggles, failures, and ultimate successes is conveyed powerfully in his book, The Trident: The Forging and Reforging of a Navy Seal Leader. This book is not just another heroic SEAL war story, but is an in depth description how this SEAL was at war with himself. The reader is able to go on a journey with him as he searches for a balance between arrogance and humility.
The first half of the book shows him as someone bitter, immature, and egotistical, a SEAL with a bad attitude. Yet, in the latter half his growth as a person becomes evident as he displays the leadership characteristics of humbleness, sacrifice, confidence, a good listener, and someone who can be respected. Redman told blackfive.net, “I took a very different approach in writing this book. I wanted to show how I messed up, learned from it, and became successful from it. Reality is that we all make mistakes and have to overcome adversity, which was my sheer purpose for writing this book. Depending on when the guys served with me, they would describe me differently. When I was younger they called me arrogant, a jerk. Those guys who knew me at the end of my career described me as squared away and someone who contributed to the SEAL community. Those who knew me my entire career would say here is someone with a rocky beginning, with a lot of potential, and excelled in the end.”
It becomes obvious that he is one of the lucky ones since Redman had many second chances. Instead of being booted out, he was sent to Ranger school to find humility. It was during his time there that the light bulb went on and he decided not to hide behind excuses anymore. He came to grips with controlling his characteristic weakness of being tactless and undiplomatic. A powerful scene in the book shows his growth as a person, after being deployed to Iraq he performed well under fire and led through example. His other second chance came after being critically wounded by insurgents in 2007 while leading a mission. He suffered severe injuries to the left side of his face including his eye, nose, and cheekbone.
After approximately forty surgeries he noted, “the combination of your personality and the life that you know totally changes. Your life revolves around surgeries, recovery, preop, postop, and the invisible wounds of war. I firmly believe I had a second chance. I had the luxury of facing death and coming back. With the help of my exceptional wife I was able to reflect on my life and decide how I would live it.” This attitude is conveyed through the sign he wrote that was placed on the hospital door, which read in part:
“Attention to all who enter here:
If you are coming into this room with sorrow or to feel sorry for my wounds, go elsewhere. The wounds I received I got in a job I love, doing it for people I love, done for the country I love…This room you are about to enter is a room of fun, optimism, and intense rapid regrowth…” This sign now hangs in the wounded warrior ward at Walter Reed.
He also founded Wounded Wear, a non-profit organization, (https://woundedwear.org/jason_redman) to help the wounded warrior wear clothes with positive slogans. “It came about out of anger with people staring at me. I wanted something to show that we sacrificed for Americans by having to endure these wounds of war. I hope the power of that clothing given to my fellow wounded warriors will provide them with pride, power, and purpose.”
There is also a powerful tribute at the beginning of the book to his eighty-six Naval Special Warfare brothers who paid the ultimate sacrifice. These are the best and the brightest and the reader gets a stark reality that there are names to go with the body counts.
The Trident is an uplifting, thrilling, and inspiring book. It shows that someone should never give up on oneself no matter how bad it gets, and that the worst enemy is reflected in the mirror. Jason Redman does a superb job of detailing his flaws with no punches barred. This book is about love, leadership, and a journey from adversity to humility.