Former SEAL Team Six member and top sniper, Dr. Howard E. Wasdin, who was wounded three times in Mogadishu during the Somalia conflict of 1993, is scheduled to speak at a Celebrate Recovery event at Eastern Heights Baptist Church on September 22 at 7 p.m. The event is free and the public is invited to attend.
Wasdin’s visit to Statesboro is a rare treat, as he typically speaks at larger venues and corporate events.
Wasdin served in the United States Navy for 12 years until he was medically discharged due to the injuries sustained in Somalia. The Somalia conflict would later become more commonly known as Black Hawk Down.
The Silver Star and Purple Heart recipient was shot three times and nearly lost a leg.
“God knew one shot wouldn’t get my attention,” said Wasdin. “I’m a Christian and I’m proud of it; I say it all the time.
“But, when I was on the SEAL Team, I was what I would call a sideline Christian. I wasn’t in the game.
“I thought I was more than human, super-human. That’s a dangerous place to be. I thought I was totally self-dependent.”
Wasdin said 18 people died on the initial day of the conflict and 56 were wounded. He said of the 18 that lost their lives, he knew six very well and one was his best friend.
“I came back from Somalia in a wheelchair, going through a divorce and drinking. I drank heavily. I was trying to numb the pain of losing my best friend. I shook my fist at God and asked, ‘Why me?’”
Though he managed to function professionally, Wasdin was confronted by a friend about his drinking when he once slept the day away and thought it was still morning when he awoke.
“He said he was worried about me and my drinking. I looked in the mirror and didn’t even recognize the face staring back at me.”
With a determination and fresh start away from alcohol, Wasdin moved to south Florida and became a police officer. “I found a new reason, a new cause.
“You can hit bottom and stay there, or you can bounce back up.
“I found myself in a dark place. But it wasn’t the light that moved away from me. I had moved away from the light, from God. I had to realize I was only human, made of flesh. God still had full control over my life, not me.”
Wasdin eventually found another new cause, chiropractic school, and he opened his practice in Jesup in 2009.
His first book came out in 2011. SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy Seal Sniper was a New York Times bestseller for 22 weeks. He’s since written other books.
Though Wasdin is speaking at an event that celebrates sobriety, his message of hope and recovery will resonate with a wide audience.
“I was raised dirt-poor. I was adopted at the age of seven by a physically abusive, alcoholic father. I was basically a field hand, doing truck farming work. It was no bed of roses. I left Screven, Georgia and went into the military as an escape.”
Wasdin says that it doesn’t matter if you come from a bad background, you can overcome.
“It sounds weird to say, but me getting shot was the best thing that happened to me. God had a plan. Unfortunately or fortunately for me, it was humbling Howard Wasdin.”
Eastern Heights Baptist Church and Celebrate Recovery invites the public to join them to hear Wasdin’s inspiring story of overcoming adversity.