Richard Marcinko, first SEAL 6 team commander, dies at 81

Richard Marcinko, who founded Navy’s SEAL Team 6 after receiving honors as a SEAL leader on two tours of Vietnam, has died on Christmas Day at the age of 81, the National Navy SEAL Museum has reported.

With the Navy in need of an elite unit dedicated to the fight against terrorism after the Pentagon’s failure to rescue American hostages in Iran in 1980, the chief of naval operations, Admiral Thomas B. Hayward, chose Marcinko to put together the new SEAL team, according to the Fort Pierce, Fla., Museum. Marcinko, known as “Demo Dick”, commanded the SEAL 6 team for about three years, retired from the Navy in 1989 as commander, and went on to write a series of fiction books and books. non-fiction based on Navy SEALs.

“Dick Marcinko has played a very unique role in the history of SEAL, leaving a legacy like no other,” the SEAL Museum wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday announcing his death. “‘Demo Dick’ is regarded as America’s premier counterterrorism operator. We extend our deepest condolences to his family, teammates and friends.”

His family confirmed his death at his home in Fauquier County, Va., In a message on Twitter.

Marcinko, the son of a Pennsylvania coal miner, enlisted in the Navy in 1958 after dropping out of high school, according to his successful 1992 autobiography “Rogue Warrior.” He trained in underwater demolition as a sailor before being commissioned through the Officer Candidate School in 1965. He was deployed less than two years later in Vietnam with the SEAL 2 team.

In Vietnam, Marcinko became known for carrying out successful SEAL assaults, including a May 1967 raid on Ilo Ilo Hon, which the SEAL Museum described as the Navy’s most successful SEAL operation in the Mekong Delta.

“Because of his strong leadership and great success, the North Vietnamese army has placed a bounty on his head, payable to anyone who could capture and kill him,” according to the SEAL Museum. “Marcinko was never taken.”

He led a SEAL platoon in a second deployment to Vietnam, ultimately winning the Silver Star and four Bronze Star medals with “V” fighting for bravery, according to the museum.

Marcinko was serving in the Pentagon in the April 1980 rescue attempt by US special operators to free 52 US diplomats and citizens held hostage five months earlier by Iranian students supporting the Iranian revolution. The failure of Operation Eagle Claw – including the deaths of eight U.S. service members – has prompted the Pentagon to rethink its response to global crises.

“It was embarrassing to think that this all-powerful nation couldn’t get 50 of its own people out of Iran,” Marcinko said in a 2019 interview with the SOFREP online publication focused on special operations. “Everyone got egg in their face… and these are retired admirals and generals who went out and looked at all the things that messed up and basically came out and said we should… have a dedicated standing force to the fight against terrorism. “

Hayward, the CNO, tasked Marcinko with designing the unit, selecting its members, training them and being its initial commander. He chose the best SEALs and underwater demolition specialists to build what would become the Navy’s most elite and famous unit. He told SOFREP that he even took the opportunity to play with the Soviet Union – naming the unit Team Six even though only two SEAL teams existed at the time.

“We did not have [SEAL Team] three, four or five, “he said.” I picked six for my lucky number – let’s let the Soviets figure out where the others are. “

After leaving the Navy, Marcinko went to work in business, gave motivational speeches and wrote about 20 books, including several bestsellers. After writing about his career in the Navy in his autobiography, Marcinko wrote a series of novels in which he was the protagonist.

Jim DeFelice, who co-authored six of the books with Marcinko, called his co-author an “American hero,” in a Twitter post on Monday.

“As far as I know, Dick and his warriors never traveled to Hell, but if they had, I’m sure the devil would have found a place to hide rather than face them,” wrote DeFelice. Dick’s indomitable courage was legendary, but his sense of humor and generosity ran equally deep. He was a man who never took ‘no’ for an answer, or who never faced it. to a challenge he couldn’t master. We didn’t just lose. a warrior; we lost a great man. “

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