ETSU alum John Weddle reflects on the capture of
Maersk Alabama and his decision to join the Naval Forces
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (April 28, 2009) - As former ETSU baseball player John Weddle read and watched news accounts regarding the attempted capture of the Maersk Alabama off the coast of Somalia and the subsequent standoff between outlaw pirates and the United States armed forces, he was proud to see that the U.S. Navy SEALs were the military unit that ultimately brought an end to the standoff.
The reason for his piqued interest was simple - Weddle is on a mission himself to join their ranks.
It was three simultaneous shots from the rifles of highly trained SEAL snipers that brought down three pirates who were holding Richard Phillips, the Maersk Alabama captain, hostage on a small lifeboat that was held adrift by the USS Bainbridge. Those special operations soldiers that carried out this daring mission went through grueling training to become members of the prestigious SEAL unit, and Weddle has made it through the highly competitive selection process and is now preparing himself for Navy Basic.
"It made me realize that this stuff happens more often than I realize for the Navy SEALS and that only some things are put into the public light," Weddle said. "The naval warfare handled it very professionally and it was successful."
Weddle admired the Naval Forces for their heroism during the Maersk Alabama incident as it increased his confirmation of joining the Naval Forces in November of 2008. With only 31 more days left until his deployment to Navy Basic, Weddle is feeling more eager than ever while watching these heroes save lives.
In the past five months, he has been training vigorously to be in the best physical and mental state upon entry in the Naval SEAL School so that he can be ready for any given task. The daily four hours of required exercise does not bother Weddle because he knows that his training is going towards his goal of becoming a military hero.
The obligation to discipline both his mind and body for a greater good is nothing new for Weddle. He had always pushed himself in the classroom and on the baseball field at ETSU to better himself and others around him. Throughout his career at ETSU, Weddle never let his dream of joining the Navy SEALS disappear and it was his experience as a collegiate athlete that would assure his decision to enlist.
"My experience with athletics at ETSU pushed me in the direction of the Navy because of the values like discipline and being part of a small unit team," Weddle said.
ETSU Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Lee Morrow commended Weddle for his work ethic ever since he attended ETSU and still admires his strength and discipline. After hearing about the attempted capture of Maersk Alabama, Weddle immediately came to Morrow's mind and he knew that the incident would only add fuel to Weddle's fire of excitement in joining the Navy SEALS.
"He's always working hard and is extremely intense in his training," Morrow said. "He is a very special person and I know he is going to do great as a Navy SEAL one day."
After witnessing the reality of the Naval Forces fulfilling their duty of protecting the lives of civilians and being such a distinguished force in the military, Weddle cannot wait to become a member of the world's most elite team that values discipline, unity and leadership.
Weddle leaves for Navy Basic training in Great Lakes, Ill. on May 28th. He will spend nine weeks in basic training followed by Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Prep for 8-12 weeks and BUD/S training for seven months in