A new memoir from one of the most famous military officers of the past few years discusses what leadership and life lessons have come from many of the hard decisions he has had to make.
Captain Brett Crozier was a career Navy officer, having graduated from the United States Naval Academy, served as a pilot during the war in Iraq, and raised through the ranks to command the USS Theodore Roosevelt. In early 2020, a severe COVID-19 outbreak occurred aboard his ship and infected 114 of his 4,865 crew members, with 660 later testing positive.
He requested the entire crew to be disembarked on the island of Guam immediately in a letter to the Navy but was relieved of command afterward for acting too hastily and raising too many sensitive alarm bells. While the Pentagon noted that he was justifiably concerned about his crew, it ultimately disciplined him for alleged poor leadership under pressure. The Navy subsequently received bipartisan criticism for hastily firing him from Democratic Senators and Vice President Mike Pence. He officially retired from the Navy two years later, having served 30 years.
Crozier writes about his career and lifetime of decision-making in his new memoir Surf When You Can: Lessons In Life, Loyalty, And Leadership From a Maverick Navy Captain, recounting his final sendoff from his command to the applause of thousands of his beloved and thankful crew and the sacrifices of a career that has drawn him away from many passions and opportunities—particularly his love of surfing.
“Crozier reflects on his life, career, and commitment to doing the right thing in a book that celebrates the power of kindness, the importance of teamwork, and the value of standing up for what you believe in. Through a series of captivating stories set all around the world, Crozier takes us along on the grand adventures of his extraordinary career and introduces the incredible people he met along the way,” says the publisher.
A Short Excerpt From the Book
“In the weeks and months that followed, I was afforded some free time to reflect back on my 30-year career in the Navy and the experiences that had brought me to the fateful decision. In doing so, I realized that over the course of those three decades, I had learned a series of valuable lessons, lessons that have as much to do with life as they do with military service,” he says.
“The lessons themselves have stood the test of time. They are the messages we’ve been told throughout our lives by our parents, our mentors, and our teachers: value relationships; choose kindness; seek balance; communicate fearlessly; stand up for what you believe in; accept responsibility for your actions. Yet it is my sincere hope that these lessons—colored by the experienced I’ve had as a helicopter pilot, combat fighter pilot, ship captain, and naval officer—will help serve as a reminder that sometimes life’s simplest lessons can prove to be the most valuable.”