Extreme Devotion: The Chadd Wright Story
photography by John fulton.
He spends a lot of time on mountain trails running through the trees of North Georgia. On a typical day, it’s maybe four hours. But sometimes more, eight or 10 or even 12 hours.
He runs and runs, the trees blurring in his peripheral vision, his eyes focusing on the ground and its dangers. One bad step and a small hollow will turn his ankle or a root will send him to the dust.
photo by John Fulton.
Chadd Wright does this nearly every day. And sometimes he joins a race — an ultramarathon — to test whether his mind, body and spirit are synchronized enough to permit him to finish well. Chadd Wright often finishes well.“You want to train like you fight,” he says. “That was the standard we lived by on SEAL teams.” Wright, 32, spent a dozen years in the Navy SEALs, deployed around the world, sometimes to places he had no idea existed. Twice he supplemented Barack Obama’s security during the president’s warzone visits abroad. Mostly, active duty consisted of small-team missions — non-traditional, asymmetrical, guerrilla-like.
“We were mobile,” he says. “On one deployment you may be in six different countries over the course of four months. I got to see a lot of the world.”
photo by John FUlton.
SEAL operatives enjoy a few perks. For instance, they get to keep a cell phone. Wright used his to talk with his younger brother Blake at least once a week. On one occasion, Chadd Wright called his brother in a panic. He and his team, on assignment, occupied a building that seemed to be inhabited by an evil force. The SEALs felt malevolence bearing down on them, fouling their mood and sapping them of motivation.
“We couldn’t break free of this thing,” Wright recalls. “So I called my little brother because I knew he was a Christian.” Blake in turn contacted his pastor, and the pastor rang up Chadd on the cell phone and prayed, the spirit of his words traveling across the planet and into this haunted space.
“After that we had peace return to the whole situation,” Wright says. “That prompted me to look more into the Bible. I got saved on that deployment, in a bare room, by myself. From that point forward I got everything all at once: I no longer had the desire to curse or watch pornography or do things most young military men would do on deployment. I really was changed overnight.”
For Wright, Jesus is the ultimate example of bringing flesh into submission. This is what Wright strives to do every day: achieve his bliss.
Photo by John fulton.