America’s Radical Hero: Richard Marcinko

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By: Jay Loeffers

Hello my friends! Yes, I am writing another happy and positive article. There has been too much depressing stuff out there. I am going to break away for awhile from grim subjects and talk about the great people of America. My favorite heroes are people that think outside the box. You could call them radicals. Let’s talk about the creator of SEAL Team Six, Richard Marcinko. A man I learned about by accident one day while picking up a book of his entitled, BLUE TEAM. It had his picture on the cover… long hair, beard, black military grade coveralls and a MP-5 K sub-machine gun in hand. I thought
is this guy for real?

After reading this very action packed and somewhat educational book, I was impressed by his vast knowledge, experience, humor and his unusual points of view that have served him very well. At this time, I knew very little about SEALs. I’d watched the Charlie sheen movie and Tom Selleck play a Vietnam era SEAL vet on MAGNUM P.I., but that’s all I knew. With this book, I wanted to know more about SEALs and Marcinko.

Marcinko had modest beginnings and a very independent upbringing in a small mining town in Pennsylvania. For the most part, he didn’t need to be motivated to work, but work hard he did. Bored with school, he dropped out and looked into military service. He almost joined the Marines, but decided against it. He went into the Navy instead after watching a movie called FROGMEN about the Navy’s U.D.T. teams. After boot camp, he was rated as a radioman operator and was sent to Italy.

His desire to join the U.D.T. was his main motivation to be in the Navy. After a year or so, he was able to transfer to U.T.D. replacement training and this training would be the precursor to SEALs BUDS training courses. Marcinko graduated in 1961 and joined the U.D.T. 21 SECOND TO NONE.

While with Team 21, his supervisor was Chief Barrett, who found a treasure within young Marcinko and put him under his wing. The Chief also found some mischief in this young lad, but for all the right reasons. During a demonstration of the “Skyhook” recovery system, the Officer in Charge was impressed with Marcinko’s observations and professional presentation. He asked Marcinko if he wanted to go thru O.C.S. He almost turned it down, but instead kept an open mind. He graduated a few months later and went on to earn his first leadership position.

During the mid-1960s, turmoil had reared its ugly head with the Vietnam War and social unrest. John F. Kennedy and Roy Boaman were getting a small project going with the SEALs. Marcinko wanted a piece of both the SEALs and Vietnam, so he volunteered for both.
After some special training, he went to Vietnam as part of SEAL Team 2.

His tour in Vietnam brought out the warrior in Marcinko; from wearing Vietcong clothing and shoes, to eating the local food, to changing his body odor. He became an expert at booby trapping the enemy’s stash, back door assaults and mind games. His team was in the middle of the 1968 Tet Offensive. There was even a bounty put on his head. Marcinko would do more tours in Vietnam and work in Cambodia.

Back home found Marcinko with kids, a mortgage, college classes and learning Navy style ticket punching (he hated that). Then he was given command of SEAL Team 2 in the mid-1970s. The first thing he noticed was that the whole team and their equipment were out of shape and run down. He ordered a full audit and shaving of their beards. During the Iranian hostage crisis and rescue planning, he was asked to help out and his plan was designed around distractions and careful timing. But this plan was rejected. Doom on them.

Marcinko, who was doing a tour at the Pentagon during 1979, was asked by an admiral to develop a fast action, hard hitting anti-terrorist specialist team like DELTA Force (oops, I forgot they aren’t real, sorry). It just so happens that Marcinko had been working on something like this for years, so he blew the dust off his plans and made some modifications. The old man loved it.

SEAL TEAM SIX: Their first mission was to train for hostage rescue to extract the Iranian hostages.

Now all Marcinko needed was men, money, equipment and a base of operations. He wanted Six to be a small team of just 100 men divided in half. He had a 400 day training regimen planned (they could sleep on the plan lol). They had to take care of their own gear, be on alert at all times and keep their beepers on.

When Reagan was elected, the hostages were released and Marcinko was relieved of command of Six after 3 years.

Then he had an another office job and a divorce. One day, another high ranking officer was venting about the Navy base security to Marcinko and he was asked to develop an idea to solve the problem. So, Marcinko created RED CELL. A very small group of men who act like a terrorist cell and test Navy base security. Some with notice and some without notice. These operations pissed off a lot of people and some trouble did ensue.

Then in the late 80s, the Navy proceeded to accuse Marcinko of fraud, embezzlement and other charges. They spent millions of dollars to investigate him. The suspicion was that Marcinko stepped on so many toes and was so effective at his job that the jealous losers were the ones behind the charges and the trial. Marcinko did get prison time at a white collar prison of all things.

Now that I do know more about SEALs and Marcinko and the innovations he introduced to Navy warfare and anti-terrorism, as well as the hard work and the losses he went through for this country, while taking care of his men under his command, I think I understand where he comes from.

I am hard pressed to find a finer example of a great American hero, unless it is another SEAL. Thank you RICHARD MARCINKO.



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