All heroes have an origin story, but the one of Navy SEALs is likely one that you haven’t heard. In fact, it’s one that few have heard, even military enthusiasts. However, without this intricate tale, the Navy SEAL as we know them today simply wouldn’t exist. Check out these fun areas of history and learn how the first Navy SEAL got their start as an important part of the U.S. government.
How Navy SEALs Got Their Start
The first attempt at a modern-day SEAL began during World War II, however they weren’t formally named for two more decades in 1962. In early stages, the military saw that there was a need for forces that specialized on both covert reconnaissance and coastal/beach defense areas, prompted by the attack on Pearl Harbor. The new efforts would cause a need for soldiers well adept at sea and on land.
This prompted the start of a joint school between the Army, Marine Corps, and the Navy’s Amphibious Scout and Raider School in 1942. The school was located at Fort Pierce, Florida. (The current home of the National Navy SEAL Museum.) Another location was placed at Little Creek, Virginia that same year.
The school was formed only nine months after Pearl Harbor, moving quickly to get recruits trained and ready for missions on land/beach and water alike.
Early Versions of SEALs: Scouts and Raiders
As their obvious names may suggest, one group’s job was to scout and gain intel, while the others raided – came in with force. Their first mission took place later that year, in November of 1942 with Operation Torch off the coast of North Africa.
The “Father of Naval Special Warfare,” Phil H. Bucklew, was included on the mission. Bucklew went on to earn two Navy Crosses, earn a doctorate in education, command Seal Team One, and predict key fighting strategies of the Vietnam War.
Three more units were deployed on various missions throughout the 40s, including an underwater demolition team.
It wasn’t official until President John F. Kennedy recognized the organization and awarded more than $100 million to special forces in 1962. He is often credited with having founded Navy SEALs, but the organization had been in place for 20 years before his acknowledgement took place.
SEALs in Modern Times
However, the move gave SEALs more resources and more gigs. They were relied upon heavily throughout the Vietnam War and began helping the CIA for various surveillance missions.
In the following decades, Navy SEALs have grown in prestige and notoriety. Though many aspire to join the elite club, few make the cut this physically and mentally tough group of sailors. With that has come more successful missions, more funds, and more resources to carry out more and more complicated goals.
Most notably, Navy SEALs are credited with finding and killing Osama bin Laden, Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips from Somali pirates, to name a few.
For more information on the impressive feats of Navy SEALs and how they came to be, tune into future posts.