‘A Warrior’s Faith’ shares inspirational story about wounded veteran
Do you believe in coincidences?
“A Warrior’s Faith” by Robert Vera (whom I will refer to as Vera), is the 30th book review I’ve written for this column. I would rank this book as number three of all of them. The other two were classics and had films made after them! Yes, as the title indicates, the book is about war – the Iraqi war. However, more importantly, it is about Ryan Job and his quest for excellence in life even when faced with tremendous obstacles. Many times Vera talks about the coincidence of Ryan’s last name when he compares Ryan’s life to that of Job in the Bible: “The Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning” (page 133, Job 42:12).
Before I start, I would like to ask you if you believe in coincidences. WAIT - DON’T TELL ME UNTIL YOU GET TO THE END OF THIS COLUMN!
The forward of the book opens with Ryan, a Navy SEAL, scaling the 14,411 foot Mt. Rainier in Washington State as part of Camp Patriot’s God-centered non-profit organization’s programs for wounded veterans. Ryan notices the person next to him is struggling and asks the person (Vera, who is not a SEAL) how he is doing. Thus, a friendship started between Ryan and the author. Because Ryan was among the first to reach the peak, his followers did not know until he started down the mountain that his face was severely damaged and he was totally blind.
FLASHBACK – The highly motivated Ryan knew what he wanted to do early in life. He dropped out of college after his junior year for fear he would be too old to be accepted at the Navy SEAL School. Ryan ended up on the same SEAL Team T3 as Chris Kyle, also known as the American Sniper.
By 2006, SEAL Team 3 was in Ramadi, Iraq, at the time the most dangerous city in the world. Twenty-eight percent of American forces losses occurred in Ramadi. Ryan had an Iraqi trainee man his machine gun while he went to move some other trainees. The trainee on the gun was immediately shot and killed by enemy forces (Coincidence?).
Shortly thereafter, SEAL Team 3 was ambushed in an alley. Ryan came out from cover to shoot while the rest of the team maneuvered to evacuate. Nearly all on the Team was wounded. Not Ryan, even though he could see the bullets hitting around him and right next to his head, into a wall (Coincidence?). Ryan received a Bronze Star for his valor.
The next action described was when Ryan and members of the Team were on the rooftop of a four story building in Ramadi to provide cover for ground troops clearing buildings. An insurgent shooter, hidden by the glare of the sun shot Ryan through his gun sight, piercing through sunglasses through his right eye and blowing away half of his head. He did not die (Coincidence?). Instead, he refused to be carried down the flights of stairs so others would be able to return fire. Ryan was the first SEAL severely wounded in Iraq.
Ryan was returned to Bethesda Naval Medical Center with his right eye gone, permanently blind in his left eye, no taste or smell. Before deploying to Iraq, Ryan had met Amy (as mentioned in the book, I knew her as Kelly) in a restaurant in San Diego (Coincidence?). She was a travelling nurse (Coincidence?) from the East Coast. They quickly became good friends. When she heard of Ryan’s injuries, she came to Bethesda and managed his medical care. One year after being shot, they were married. Upon being discharged from Bethesda, the couple moved to Scottsdale, AZ, where a non-profit organization provided them an apartment rent-free and Amy entered and graduated from a nursing anesthesiology program. Ryan trained for an Ironman Triathlon, received a guide dog, listened to Seattle Seahawks football games and gave a performance review after the games to one of their coaches, represented wounded veterans, spoke to business leaders, was a fulltime student while working part-time and went elk hunting in Idaho, etc. “He made up his mind that he would be the best blind person in the world, and then pursued that goal relentlessly in everything he did.”
Ryan submitted his last assignment for his senior year in college (he would have graduated with a 4.0 average) just before, at the age 28, he went to be with his Lord and Savior in 2009. Because of the circumstances surrounding his death, Vera was able to assist Amy and their first child, a daughter, who was born several months after Ryan died, with Amy’s finances. NOW, you can answer the question about coincidence or not. I like Einstein’s saying, “A coincidence is God’s way of working anonymously.”
Please note: After reading this book twice and taking copious notes, I feel completely inadequate in expressing Ryan’s faith, love, encouragement, and zest for life! Therefore, I strongly encourage you to read the book.