The Final Mission
About the Guest
After nearly a decade of service, Navy Seal Adam Brown said goodbye to his wife and family, departing for what he expected to be his final mission. It was truly his final mission. But Adam was on two missions. One for the US military, and the other was a mission from God. A riveting story of heroism, sacrifice and redemption, as told by his widow, Kelley Brown.
After nearly a decade of service, Navy Seal Adam Brown said goodbye to his wife and family for his final mission.
The Final Mission
Bob: When you are a military wife and your husband is deployed, every time the doorbell rings, you wonder. Here’s Kelley Brown:
Kelley: Around 8 PM that night, the doorbell rang. It immediately sent me into this—just my heart sank because I know what a doorbell means; but at that point, thankfully, it was just our neighbor’s child. But at that moment my heart just sank, and I just couldn’t shake this feeling I had.
At that point I put the kids to bed, and I went to bed just with images just like funerals and stuff. “That would be awful” was what I was thinking. I was like, “Kelley, this is ridiculous. Stop this. Quit and just go to sleep.” So, I did. I fell asleep. I hadn’t been asleep that long, and the doorbell rang.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, November 9th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey. I'm Bob Lepine. Kelley Brown joins us again today to tell us about her husband, Adam, and his sacrifice.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Friday edition. I did not serve in the military. In fact, I remember growing up in a time when to serve in the military seemed like a foolish thing to do. Everybody was trying to avoid it, rather than trying to sign up for it. And I was just kind of a product of the time, and I shouldn’t have been because my dad served.
My dad was in World War II. My dad was in Korea, but I didn’t have a sense of the honor, the dignity, and the nobility that goes with the men and women who sign up and say, “I will protect and defend our country and put my life on the line.”
Dennis: Well, anyone who has been listening this week knows we’ve been featuring a story about somebody who did just that—put his life on the line, ultimately gave his life on behalf of our country. His name was Adam Brown, and we have his widow here in the studio with us, Kelley Brown. Kelley, welcome back to FamilyLife Today.
Kelley: Thanks for having me.
Dennis: Kelley and Adam were married 12 years. They have two children, Nathan and Savannah, and live near Hot Springs, Arkansas.
We’ve been saying all this week, Bob, “In the history of FamilyLife Today, Fearless holds a distinct spot in terms of any book we’ve ever offered because it has authentic, SEAL language.” I’m not talking about the fish or—is a seal a fish? It’s a mammal, I think.
Bob: This is a book that takes you inside a Navy SEAL team. To have altered the language would have been to sugar-coat the story, and this is not a sugar-coated story. We’ve been hearing this week, Kelley, about how you and Adam met, how you married, about Adam wrestling with drug dependency, about his heroism—
Bob: —on the battlefield, about him losing his eye and getting right back into action, and about all of the deployments. Adam was deployed how many times?
Kelley: Oh, gosh. I’d have to count them all up—probably, at least, eight times—eight, nine, maybe more.
Dennis: Take us to the last deployment and your processing that and the picture that you asked the guard to take.
Kelley: I’m getting a little choked up here. You know this was his last deployment. We had looked at this as—Nathan was getting ready to start middle school. That was our agreement in the beginning. We want to be home. He wants to be an engaged father. The life of a SEAL, especially that command, did not make that easy. So it was his last deployment, and we were going to move home.
So, we kind of had all these ideas in our head and all these things we were planning to do. So, with him deploying, it was just like, “Okay, just go do it, and then just come home.” I wasn’t worried about it. I wasn’t—there wasn’t any apprehension. It was like, “Baby, just go do your job and come home.”
So, that night, though, dropping him off at the Command, February 26th—I’ll never forget it. I spent the whole day with him. We went and had lunch with the kids at school, and I didn’t know that would be the last lunch he ate with them. So it is very special when I think about it. We played basketball and—so, dropping him off that night, we went and ate—he loves Chili’s, the restaurant, because he loves their queso dip. So, that was the one thing he had to have before he left.
So we went and had dinner, and I’d spent all day with him. Then we dropped him off. I don’t know. I don’t know what came in me, but I saw him picking up the kids. The sadness in my children’s faces and the sadness in Adam’s eyes—I knew at this point he didn’t want to go anymore. He wanted to stay, even though he was very devoted to his job and he was proud of what he was doing and he knew he was doing a good thing.
So I, for some reason—I’ve never done this in the past, but I was like, “Adam, please, there’s a gate guard right here. Do you mind if I ask him to take one picture—just one? I just want one of us dropping you off. I don’t have one.” The gate guard did. He was so nice, and he took that picture. I’m so thankful I have that picture now because that was the last time we saw him.
They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, and there’s so much truth to that—
Dennis: Wow! Yes.
Kelley: —because that was the last time we said our goodbyes. I just remember holding his face, and he promised me he’d be home. He promised me he’d come home, and I believed that. He was tough. He was invincible. So I was like, “Okay, just go knock this out. Come home. We’re going to move back to Arkansas. We’re going to start enjoying our life with our family.”
So March 17th I’d sent him an e-mail I thought he should respond to, but I hadn’t heard from him. Around 8 PM that night, the doorbell rang. It immediately sent me into this—just my heart sank because I know what a doorbell means.
When it’s 8 o’clock at night and your kids are small and it was dark, it just—I just didn’t know who it would be; but at that point, thankfully, it was just our neighbor’s child. He was bringing over what I had bought from his fundraiser; but at that moment my heart just sank, and I just couldn’t shake this feeling I had, this huge overwhelming sense of sadness.
I went to bed just with images of funerals and stuff. “That would be awful” was what I was thinking. I was like, “Kelley, this is ridiculous. Stop this”—like, “Quit and just go to sleep.” So, I did. I fell asleep, and that’s when I started hearing—I thought it was my dream, but I heard knocking. I started coming to, and the doorbell rang. So, that’s when I immediately knew.
Kelley: So, I started making this walk to our door, our front door, and I just stood there. I didn’t want to open it.
Kelley: I didn’t want to open it, but I did. I had to open it, and I had to accept it or see what was about to happen. Then, I see—you know I hear them talking, but I wasn’t listening to any of the words. I don’t think I can even understand them; but I saw our friends.
Then, my—I heard my kids. I guessed kind of—my knees got weak maybe, and they just kind of held me up. I didn’t how I was going to tell them. I didn’t know what to say. I was in shock, and I couldn’t believe it. This was Adam Brown. This was my husband, and he’s not supposed to leave me.
Now I have to tell our two children. So, I just sat them in my lap, and I told them, “Daddy’s gone to Heaven. He’s with Jesus now. So his eyes are good. His hand is good. His leg is good, and he doesn’t feel any pain. He’s in a very happy place.” They just screamed out. They didn’t understand.
So, the whole night was a lot of chaos. I just remember a lot of chaos; and that night, somebody had to notify his parents. I didn’t want to tell them by telephone. So, I asked them to stop by and grab their pastor from their church to have somebody they recognized—you know a familiar face. So, they were notified about 6 AM the next morning.
Dennis: Kelley, I cannot imagine telling your kids.
Kelley: It’s something I never thought I would have to do.
Kelley: It’s not something you prepare for.
Dennis: No, no.
Kelley: There are not the right words to say. You know that they know, but you have to verbalize it. You have to validate it, and I was not prepared for what that was going to take me on—the rollercoaster that would take me on even these last couple years.
Bob: You learned later what had happened on the battlefield.
Bob: Tell us.
Kelley: It was considered to be an audacious mission in the first place. No American had been where they were going. They were going after some really big guys that were hurting a lot of people. So, I know that Adam was probably thrilled about going. But something that’s so tender about him leaving on that final deployment was right before he left it was his birthday.
My kids thought it would be so funny—we were walking around in Target, and we found these adult sized Batman Underoos type thing. So, they just started laughing. They’re like, “I wonder if Daddy would—this would be so funny”—whatever. So, it was more of a gag gift than anything. So, we bought these Batman Underoos.
He looked at them that night, and he said, “You know what, kids?” He was laughing obviously; but when he got down to it, he was like, “I want to make a promise to you all. I’m going to wear these Batman underwear on every mission I go on. That’s going to be like my super identity—my secret identity, that nobody’s going to know that Batman’s really there.”
So, he put on his Batman briefs that night, and he took off. It was a long hike into where they were going, and they had to—they had to be very careful because it was a long patrol, a very long walk over some rigorous terrain. They were expecting a very big fight once they got there. At one point, when they had reached the compound and they had already secured the women and children out of the compound, they still needed to get some guys that were running through the building.
They needed somebody to breach a certain way. That’s where Adam said, “I got it. I got that.” They had already done surveillance. They thought they knew where all their targets were, and they were—Adam had eyes on them, but what they didn’t know was there was a little animal pen right beside this wall, this ledge, where my husband was standing. The person that was inside there got lucky. He just started—it had just a small roof on it. He just kind of started just shooting in the air.
The first volley hit Adam in his leg. Then, a second volley came around, and that’s when Adam was shot fatally. These men were able to get the bad guys.
Bob: To finish the mission?
Kelley: The mission was finished. It was completed, and Adam was able to call out locations and stuff. Then even hearing this story from these men, they make nothing out of it. They don’t tell me about what all they had to go through just to get him out of the compound.
Dennis: Yes, yes, and how far they had to carry him.
Kelley: How far they had to carry him—I didn’t know any of this, and part of me questioned, “Was it his eye? Was it something he couldn’t see?” They were like, “Absolutely not. It could have been any one of us. We’ve got”—
Kelley: —“We’re promising you. It was not that. It was just something that we did not see.”
Dennis: Kelley, Adam was buried seven days later at a small cemetery, and his buddies, Navy SEAL Team Six, weren’t there.
Kelley: No, they weren’t. There were a few there, the ones that actually flew to Dover and met me. Kevin Houston, John Faas, and Brian Bill, they stayed with me by my side for probably a good month after Adam’s passing.
Kelley: They escorted me everywhere. They stood in front of me—even like during the viewings and stuff, they were there for me. There were three that were present that night that were with me. I’m so thankful for that.
Dennis: They were able to come back, though.
Kelley: They did.
Dennis: —at a later time?
Kelley: Yes, after they finished their deployment, Kevin and John and Brian had also gone ahead and met back up with them. They all came home. So, at this point all of Adam’s troop returned to Arkansas—not just the troop. It was pretty much the whole command. They wanted to perform a funeral. Adam’s last wishes were that people knew the story of the Resurrection and make sure people understood Jesus Christ and what He had done for him.
So his father, in front of all these command members and SEALs, told them about Christ, shared Christ with them and said that was what had redeemed and restored Adam and that he can do the same for any of you. He was just trying to make that wish for Adam granted.
Dennis: Here’s the thing that impacted me. These men had seen Jesus Christ in Adam, in inconceivable circumstances. I mean incredibly tough, tough stuff. They were his friends, his fellow warriors. In your book, I moved from weeping to laughter at what these guys did to honor Adam.
Bob: Back to Highway 70.
Kelley: Back to Highway 70.
Dennis: Back to Highway 70 Bridge—
Kelley: They did.
Dennis: —that Adam had jumped off of from a moving convertible as a 16-year-old.
Kelley: I know. So, what is that--20 years later maybe? The guys of 2-Troop—
Dennis: How many guys are we talking about?
Kelley: We’re talking about maybe—oh, gosh, I’d have to count—I want to say about 12 of them. Then, there were other command members and staff, but the actual Troop came home, and they spent some time with us—spent a couple days in Hot Springs. They wanted to see what this Hot Springs, Arkansas was all about because that was all Adam talked about was Arkansas and the Razorbacks and all that stuff. So, they wanted to see where he was from.
They loved the lake. They spent so much time on the lake. They were riding jet skis. It was just a good time of remembering Adam. Then, on the final day—actually the day before, I’m sitting there on the back of a jet ski; and I just start seeing all these men walking across the bridge—
Dennis: That’s a high bridge. We’ve already established it’s either 50 or 60 feet tall.
Kelley: Yes, it’s a pretty tall bridge. So, cars were honking at this point. You just see them. It was such a presence. They all lined up on the bridge, and they spread their arms out to knuckle punch each other. They all pounded fists and said, “For Adam.” Then they jumped off into the water.
So all of them did it, and it was so inspiring. It just made my heart swell with such pride that my husband served with men like these, men that loved what they did. They were passionate about their friend, their teammate. They were demonstrating it on such a level that meant so much.
So they did, and the very next day, pretty much the whole command flies into Hot Springs, and we had kind of a command funeral for Adam out at the cemetery.
Dennis: There is no way to express what undoubtedly our listeners are feeling for Adam and for you and your son and daughter for protecting us. I know many have said thank you, but I feel compelled to say it one more time. Yes.
Kelley: (Tearfully) You know that’s all I need to hear is a thank you because Adam believed very much in what he was doing, and I supported that. So, a thank you to me just lets me know that you are grateful that we have this country we live in because of men like Adam and also the men of that troop that—
All of the men that were with my husband the night of his mission, all of the men of 2-Troop, the ones that came back and paid the tribute to Adam off the bridge, they all perished August 2011, August 6th. It was the Chinook that went down.
So, Brian Bill and Kevin Houston and John Faas—I could just list the names. I could list them, and I had to tell my kids again—again, and they just started calling off names to me, and I was like, “He’s gone. He’s gone, and he’s gone. All of them—Uncle”—they called a friend of ours, Kevin—they called him “Uncle Juicy.”
But the thing about that is I kept telling myself, “God, why Adam? Why Adam? Why did you take him?” Now, I realize that Adam had to go first. He had to go first because they learned—
Dennis: They heard.
Kelley: They heard the story of Jesus. They saw his love through Adam, and there was a friend of ours, Kevin, Uncle Juicy—this big tough guy that we had invited to church for years and years and years, and he came. He didn’t start off so eloquently or whatever. He’d come to church, and he’d be chewing his dip and spitting in the cup. You know it’s just what it is, and I was just glad he was there.
I was like, “Okay, you know it’s wrong; but you know”—his wife was working on him. She was praying for him, and Kevin, May 15, 2011 walked to the front of our church—and because of Adam’s life, he humbled himself and dropped to his knees in front of our church—
Kelley: —with his hands raised up high and asked the Lord to come into his heart. Little did he know he was going to die two months later. So now I feel like I know why he had to go first because if not, Kevin would not be in Heaven. I know that. And there’s such an eternal significance to Adam’s life and the testimony that he has and he can share. It’s reaching people in places where it’s not traditionally reached. I’m thankful for that.
Dennis: Well, you know what? This book isn’t any traditional book either.
Kelley: It is not.
Dennis: It’s a salty book.
Kelley: It’s a salty book. I know.
Dennis: And it’s going to go to some places because people are going to say, “I know a friend who needs to hear the message.”
Bob: When you say salty, there is authentic, Navy SEAL language.
Dennis: This is—
Kelley: Language, that’s all. That’s all there is.
Dennis: Yes, but it’s not varnished. It’s the real stuff.
Kelley: We wanted it to be—I didn’t want to paint this picture that everybody we surrounded ourselves with was perfect or that—I don’t claim to be perfect. Adam never claimed to be perfect. Adam was genuine. But through Christ, we know that God can change and He can perform miracles in your life.
Dennis: Yes. Well, you need to know, Kelley, your book is the first in 20 years on FamilyLife Today where we have offered a book that has been this authentic. (Laughter)
Kelley: Part of me wants to say, “I’m sorry.”
Dennis: No, no, no, no, because of the message of your life, Kelley—yes—
Kelley: Thank you.
Dennis: —the message of your life and Adam’s life. The story needs to be told, and you’ve done a great job of telling it. The book needs to be read, and it will be.
Here’s the assignment to the listener: Get this book and give it to the person that you know who is farthest from God. Yes, really. Think about somebody you know, the most irreligious person you know. Give them this book.
Bob: We’ve got copies of the book, Fearless, in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com to request a copy. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com; or call toll-free at 1-800-FL-TODAY, 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY”.
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We hope you have a great weekend. Hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend, and I hope you can join us back on Monday. Our friend, Jerry Sittser, is going to be here. We’re going to talk about how sometimes we can’t see what God is doing in our lives or through our lives for months or years—maybe even decades—but when we start to get a glimpse, it can be glorious. We’ll talk about that Monday. Hope you can be here.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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