Created at President John F. Kennedy’s behest in 1962 to counter communist guerrillas in Vietnam, the elite military force does everything from traditional fighting to stealth missions to taking out pirates, reports UT San Diego
“From the Mekong Delta to the Hindu Kush, deep at sea or far into the desert, Navy SEALs have proven themselves to be tough, versatile, and successful,” Rear Adm. Sean Pybus, Naval Special Warfare commanding officer, reportedly said at a closed-to-the-public ceremony in Coronado, Calif., last Friday.
The force, created out of Navy underwater demolition units, started with two teams — 20 officers and 100 enlisted sailors — on Jan. 1, 1962, according to UT San Diego. Coronado was the location of SEAL Team One; Little Creek, Va., was home to Team Two.
Today, UT San Diego reports, the SEALs run 10 teams from a headquarters at Coronado Naval Amphibious Base and include 600 officers and 1,900 enlisted. They are still in Virginia but also at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
In 50 years, the small force has included five Medal of Honor recipients. The last two came posthumously from actions in 2005 and 2006 in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. The Navy has since named warships after those two SEALs, Lt. Michael Murphy and Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Monsoor.
Last May, SEALS based in Coronado, killed Osama bin Laden. Is that mission the SEALs’ greatest achievement?
“It was one target, one op,” retired Rear Adm. George Worthington, a SEAL who did two Vietnam combat tours and led Naval Special Warfare Command before retiring in 1992, told UT San Diego.
“The SEALS are running 12 such operations a night,” his friend, retired Rear Adm. Cathal “Irish” Flynn, who led SEAL detachments in Vietnam and was the first active-duty SEAL flag officer, told UT San Diego.
But, Flynn added, while SEAL missions in Vietnam took a heavy toll on the Viet Cong, the strategic impact of bin Laden’s death may be more permanent.
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