While writing Greek Flu, I wanted to learn more about the Navy SEALs so that I could accurately portray them in my story. I was privileged during my research to meet a large number of active and retired SEALs. I wanted to know not only the technical details of what they did but also who they are. I was also able to meet some of their families and spend time with them. These days, after the bin Laden mission, there are a lot of SEAL “experts” who have come forth. I make no such claims, but have reviewed chapters of my book with some experienced SEALs for general accuracy; any inaccuracies are solely mine–either by intent or error. I believe my depiction of the SEALs in Greek Flu is factual and intriguing.
SEAL is an acronym for SEa, Air and Land. They are a group of men who take their job of protecting the United States to heart. The concept of “Team” really means something to them. During some meetings I was asked if I “was Team.” Hopefully that meant that I was at least holding my beer correctly. One funny story is that after meeting with all these brave men, my wife confided that her biggest fear was that despite my age I would somehow convince the Navy to let me be a SEAL!
SEAL history goes back to WWII when in 1942 the Amphibious Scout and Raider School was started in Florida. They trained the first Naval Combat Demolition Unit (NCDU) to reconnoiter land areas and dispose of obstacles. NCDU was first utilized in Operation Torch in North Africa. By 1943, after serious problems in Tarawa, the Navy realized the need for underwater demolition of obstacles. Eventually, nine Underwater Demolition Teams became Combat Swimmer Reconnaissance Units and, ultimately, Navy UDTs.
In the 1960s it was realized that the United States must development unconventional warfare with guerilla and anti-guerilla abilities. Mainly from UDTs with commando experience in Korea, modern SEAL units were formed with bases in San Diego and Virginia Beach. They were so effective that it was estimated that 200 Viet Cong were killed for every SEAL life lost.
Their many battles are beyond the scope of this page. But whether in Iraq, Afghanistan, or the latest hot spot, Naval Special Warfare continues to evolve and serve with the demands of the day, either alone or in coordination with other services branches, some of which attend SEAL reunions as well.