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Every death is tragic.

Every death is tragic, but none more than when you don’t expect it.

My deepest condolences to the family and friends of the two SAS soldiers who died yesterday in the Brecon Beacons.

It appears that they died from heat stroke. The Brecon Beacons can be blisteringly hot in summer, and they can be absolutely brutally cold in winter. Which is exactly what makes them the ideal training ground for special forces soldiers.

The SAS selectors always say, “We won’t choose you, the mountains will select you.” Because getting through that terrain requires a particular kind of grit and determination.

The SAS is a very small community of soldiers, and when we loose somebody in a battle it is tragic. But it’s almost more tragic when you loose somebody in training. And I think the reason why that is, is that you just don’t expect it. The emphasis during training is always on safety more than anything else. It’s safety, safety, safety. If you are going in to fight in Afghanistan, that’s somewhat different. You are ready for it, even if you don’t exactly expect it. But you simply don’t expect someone to pass away during training.

I always loved the idea that the Brecon Beacon mountains select their soldiers. But sometimes those mountains claim their people forever. And it’s important that we remember that while they did not die on the battlefield, they did die in service of our country.

Author: Lewis Pugh is an ocean advocate and a pioneer swimmer. He will shortly be departing on a 3-year expedition to highlight the plight of the world’s oceans. http://lewispugh.com