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Entries in Navy Seals (24)

Saturday
Mar302013

Navy SEAL Killed in Freefall Training Was Member of Seal Team Six

U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Eric S. Logsdon(WASHINGTON) --The Navy SEAL killed in a parachute training accident was identified in a Navy press release Saturday morning.

Navy officials identified the deceased as Brett "Shady" Shadle, 31. Shadle had been a member of SEAL Team Six, the most elite of the SEAL teams and the one tasked with the historic May 2011 raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Shadle was "one of the best," a former colleague in the elite unit told ABC News.

"Both tactically on the battlefield and at home, he was one of the best SEALs I've ever worked with," said an ex-SEAL Team Six member who served with Shadle for years. "His reputation was that of a great operator, a true friend and a nice guy."

Shadle, a 31-year-old Pennsylvania native, was one of two SEAL Team Six members involved in a serious accident during routine freefall training in Arizona Thursday. Both SEALs were taken to a nearby hospital where Shadle succumbed to his injuries, according to officials. The other SEAL is in stable condition, the Navy said.

"[Shadle] should be remembered as a hero, a father, a friend and an American," Shadle's former SEAL colleague said. "He sacrificed everything for his country."

The second SEAL, who was not identified, remained in stable condition according to the Navy press release. The accident is under further investigation.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb192013

Former Navy SEAL on Military's Top Secret Unit Coming Out of the Shadows

Rorke Denver(NEW YORK) -- It used to be that Navy SEALs didn't just operate in the shadows -- they trained in them too. Their whole story stayed shrouded in mystery. Their secret missions stayed secret to the rest of us.

But when they got Osama bin Laden, snatched back an American cargo ship taken by pirates and rescued two air workers held hostage in Somalia, then, suddenly, it seemed that SEALs were headline-makers.

Add to that some SEALs who wrote books about SEAL adventures and even acted in a movie about the SEAL experience using live ammunition when they made Act of Valor. They can't quite be called "the military unit that no one ever talked about" any longer.

Rorke Denver played Lt. Commander Rorke in Act of Valor, a film that used dozens of SEALs and went on to gross $80 million at the box office. Now, with the help of a writer, Denver is doing some pretty decent storytelling in a new book, Damn Few: Making the Modern SEAL Warrior.

He agrees that with SEALs like him telling their stories these guys are out in the open like never before.

"We are, at this moment in our history, when the heat is on, the missions are getting press and coverage," Denver said.

When asked if it was a good thing, he said, "Time will tell."

"We are in the public eye and I think that mythology is something that people are hugely, hugely interested in and they have an appetite for it," Denver said. "So for us with the movie and then also with Damn Few I had an opportunity, I feel, to authentically represent and hopefully do it from an honorable point of view and accurately do so."

It's mostly his own story Denver tells in Damn Few, how he joined the SEALs after college and they didn't want him at first.

"I put in my first application and they said no, and I am glad it went that way. I think the community really values resiliency and toughness and focus and a 'never quit' attitude. For me, when they said no I thought, that ain't going to cut it."

Denver didn't quit. He reapplied and went on to survive the SEALs' brutal Hell Week and training, join the team and be deployed all over the world, including the deadly Al Anbar province in Iraq when the war there was at its hottest. His family waited for him to return stateside.

"The families, I feel, are the ones who pay the price of our choices," Denver said. "But I didn't appreciate how much I was asking my family to bear and experience it with me. They really are every bit a part of our experience and frankly they are the ones who are back home and praying and believing that you are going to come home."

But even his family didn't quite know what Denver did at work every day.

"I never ask questions about what he does," said his wife, Tracy.

But Act of Valor was revealing in that way, and Denver's wife watched the film.

"For me it was incredibly eye-opening to actually see a submarine mission or running around in the jungle, jumping out of a plane, shooting his weapons," she said. "For me, it was like, oh, so this is what you are doing when you are away. I appreciated it actually."

Someone else who appreciates what the SEALs do? Washington, which should be a good thing for the unit but there's a catch. Politicians are saying we should have more of that good thing. More SEALs. Not necessarily a smart move, Denver said.

"It scares me, I am going to be honest," he said. "I think the risk is we don't know [about] the unintended consequences of getting more. The program works. We know what the results are with the program right now. If we double it, triple it, increase it by half, we don't know what that result will be."

He noticed, for example, that in some training exercises guys who fail are getting more and more chances to try again, like 10 or 12 times.

"I am concerned about 12 attempts to get through a program where it used to just be four," Denver said. "But I was also cognizant as we were going through training that one of the things that is difficult is not letting those instructors get away from that focus on making it harder, to make it better. So that is really the tough part. Saying where is that cut-off point."

Usually there are about 2,000 SEALs in service. Many more apply and start the training and most don't make it. So what does it take?

"I think it's a lot of things," Denver said. "If we could bottle it -- if you and I could bottle this right now we'd be retired on an island somewhere because it would be hugely valuable. I think it's a tremendous desire to succeed, I think it's an absolute inability to quit, no matter how tough things get."

That's why they call themselves the "damn few." Something more of us know because the SEALs, in books like Denver's, are coming just that much more out of the shadows.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Feb032013

Former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle Killed at Shooting Range; Suspect Arrested

U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Eric S. Logsdon(Glen Rose, Texas) -- A man is under arrest in connection with the killing of two men at an Erath County, Texas, gun range, police said.

One of the victims is former Navy SEAL and "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle.

"We have lost more than we can replace. Chris was a patriot, a great father, and a true supporter of this country and its ideals. This is a tragedy for all of us. I send my deepest prayers and thoughts to his wife and two children," "American Sniper" co-author Scott McEwen said in a statement to ABC News.

ABC affiliate WFAA-TV in Dallas reported that Kyle and a neighbor of his were shot while helping a soldier who is recovering from post traumatic stress syndrome at a gun range in Glen Rose.

The suspect, identified as Eddie Routh, 25, was arrested in Lancaster, Texas, after a brief police chase, a Lancaster Police Department dispatcher told ABC News.

Routh was driving Kyle's truck at the time of his arrest and was held awaiting transfer to Texas Rangers, according to police.

Investigators told WFAA that Routh is a former Marine said to suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Kyle, 39, served four tours in Iraq and was awarded two Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars with Valor, two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, and one Navy and Marine Corps Commendation.

From 1999 to 2009, Kyle recorded more than 150 sniper kills, the most in U.S. military history.

Travis Cox, the director of FITCO Cares, the non-profit foundation Kyle established, said Kyle's wife Taya and their children "lost a dedicated father and husband" and the country has lost a "lifelong patriot and an American hero."

"Chris Kyle was a hero for his courageous efforts protecting our country as a U.S. Navy SEAL during four tours of combat. Moreover, he was a hero for his efforts stateside when he helped develop the FITCO Cares Foundation. What began as a plea for help from Chris looking for in-home fitness equipment for his brothers- and sisters-in-arms struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) became an organization that will carry that torch proudly in his honor," Cox said in a statement.

After leaving combat duty, Kyle became chief instructor training Naval Special Warfare Sniper and Counter-Sniper teams, and he authored the Naval Special Warfare Sniper Doctrine, the first Navy SEAL sniper manual. He left the Navy in 2009.

"American Sniper," which was published last year in 2012, became a New York Times best seller.

The fatal shooting comes after a week filled with gun related incidents -- a teen who participated in inaugural festivities was shot to death in Chicago, a bus driver was fatally shot and 5-year-old was taken hostage in Alabama and a Texas prosecutor was gunned outside a courthouse.

 

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov082012

Seven Members of Navy’s Seal Team Six Disciplined for Work on Video Game

John Moore/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Seven current members of the Navy’s elite SEAL Team Six, including one involved in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, have received non-judicial punishments for having served as paid consultants for the video game Medal of Honor: Warfighter.  Four other SEALs who previously belonged to the unit remain under investigation.

The newly released game by Electronic Arts features special operations forces, including SEALs, in combat situations.  Promotional materials for the game mention the fact that, to make the game as realistic as possible, input came from special operators, including Navy SEALS.

A Navy official says 11 active duty SEALS worked as consultants on the game over two days earlier this year.  At the time all of them were members of SEAL Team Six.

A senior Navy official told ABC News that one of the seven SEALs was involved in the May 1, 2011,  raid in Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden.

The SEALs were punished for having violated their nondisclosure agreements and for having revealed tactics, techniques and procedures. Non-judicial punishments allow commanders to discipline service members administratively instead of pursuing a legal process that could lead to a court martial.

The news that active duty SEALS had been punished for their involvement with the video game was first reported by CBS News.

The official confirmed that on Thursday morning seven senior enlisted sailors, who are still part of the unit, had received letters of reprimand and been fined two months’ pay.  Letters of reprimand are seen as career-enders because they typically prevent further promotions.  The investigation continues into the four West Coast based SEALs who were part of the unit at the time that they served as consultants.

A Defense official said that in an unusual move, the punishments were read out loud to the seven SEALs in front of their peers to send the message that this kind of activity would not be tolerated.

In a statement, Rear Adm. Garry Bonelli, deputy commander of Naval Special Warfare Command, said his command, “takes all allegations of misconduct seriously and conducts investigations to determine the facts. We likewise take seriously the Non-Disclosure Agreements signed by Sailors and adherence to the articles of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).”

The Navy first became aware of the SEALs’ involvement following the release of the book No Easy Day, written by the pseudonym Mark Owen, a former SEAL Team Six member who detailed his role in the bin Laden raid.

Owen was investigated by the Pentagon for having violated his non-disclosure agreements and for not having his book vetted by the Pentagon. He too served as a consultant on the Medal of Honor video game.

The Navy official said the participation by the 11 SEALs was discovered following a review prompted by the publication of Owen’s book.  The official said after the book came out, it was decided that a review should be made of what “outside engagements” current SEALs might have been involved with for which they may have received compensation.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep102012

SEAL: Why We Shot Bin Laden on Sight

AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — As top American officials and a Navy SEAL who was on the raid that killed Osama bin Laden grapple over whether the al Qaeda leader "resisted" before he was shot, the SEAL said in a recent interview that in the heat of battle, the men on the ground weren't going to take any chances with their target.

In a firsthand account of the May 2011 raid, written under the pseudonym Mark Owen, the Navy SEAL Team Six member who was right behind the "point man," who first shot Osama bin Laden, said that before they took off for bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, the commandos were told that it was not a kill-only mission.

"A lawyer from either the Department of Defense or the White House made it clear that this wasn't an assassination," Owen writes in his book, No Easy Day. "'If he is naked with his hands up, you're not going to engage him,' he told us. 'I am not going to tell you how to do your job. What we're saying is if he does not pose a threat, you will detain him.'"

But later in the book, Owen writes that bin Laden was shot the second he poked his head out of a door frame, apparently before he had a chance to resist or present a visible threat. At the time, Owen said he didn't know who his teammate's bullets had hit, if anyone.

"We were less than five steps from getting to the top [of the stairs] when I heard suppressed shots," Owen writes. "BOP. BOP. The point man had seen a man peeking out of the door on the right side of the hallway about ten feet in front of him. I couldn't tell from my position if the rounds hit the target or not. The man disappeared into the dark room."

It wasn't until other members of the team entered the room that they realized the man had been hit in the head and then, after shooting him in the chest a few more times until he stopped twitching, they realized it was bin Laden, the book says. America's most wanted man was unarmed and though there was a rifle and a handgun in a room nearby, neither had a bullet loaded in the chamber.

"He hadn't even prepared a defense. He had no intention of fighting," Owen writes.

In a recent interview with CBS News' 60 Minutes, Owen explained why the shot was taken apparently before the man presented a direct, visible threat. He said the team had already been in a short firefight in another part of the house, an AK-47 assault rifle had been found right next to one of bin Laden's sons who had just been killed and, due to a delay in getting the team inside the compound, bin Laden had already had plenty of time to arm himself or strap on a suicide vest.

"All those boxes had been checked [so] that if a guy sticks his head around the corner, he could very easily have a gun," Owen said. "You don't wait [for him to] get that AK or get that grenade thrown down the hall or that suicide vest. So in that split second, that's when [the point man] engaged."

As for why Owen and another SEAL opened fire on bin Laden as he lay on the ground, Owen said they could not see bin Laden's hands and were concerned he could still be hiding a grenade.

Owen's book has sparked controversy both for the discrepancies between his story and the "official" version as told by the White House in which bin Laden "resisted," as well as his decision to write and publish the book without first allowing government officials to vet it for classified information.

Owen and his publisher, Dutton, maintain that the book was vetted by a former special operations attorney and discloses no sensitive information, but last week the Pentagon said it disagreed and was considering legal action against Owen.

Late Friday, CNN reported Adm. William McRaven, the head of U.S. special operations, had gone back to the other Navy SEALs involved in the operation -- including the "point man" -- to check Owen's story and found that the author was not accurate in his retelling. According to CNN, Pentagon officials said that bin Laden was standing in his room and, as CNN put it, "showed no signs of surrendering" when he was shot.

A Pentagon spokesperson told ABC News the Department of Defense is not confirming or denying Owen's account, saying "his account is his own."

Owen's book, which went on sale last week, was originally intended to hit bookshelves Tuesday on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks for which bin Laden was responsible. The sale date was moved up after the book's existence leaked, causing a tidal wave of controversy and demand for the first-ever inside look at the historic raid.

Owen said he plans to give a majority of the proceeds from the book to charities that support the families of fallen SEALs, but at least one major SEAL charity, The Navy SEAL Foundation, already announced it would not be accepting donations from the book sales, citing Owen's possible legal troubles.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug312012

Lawyer: Navy SEAL Author Did Not Violate Non-Disclosure Agreements

John Moore/Getty Images)(NEW YORK) -- The attorney for the former Navy SEAL whose tell-all book about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden has led the Pentagon to consider taking legal action against him says the author did not violate non-disclosure agreements cited by the Pentagon as the reason for potential legal action.

On Thursday, the Defense Department's General Counsel Jeh Johnson sent a letter to the pseudonym "Mark Owen" notifying him the Pentagon was considering taking legal action against him because he was in "material breach" of non-disclosure agreements about the release of classified information. According to Johnson those agreements required him to "never divulge" classified information even if he is no longer on active duty.

In a response to Johnson's letter issued Friday, Robert Luskin, a partner at the Washington, D.C. firm Patton Boggs, said Owen did not violate the agreements he signed in 2007 and that he "takes seriously his obligations to the United States and to his former colleagues." He added, "They are as important to him as any mission he undertook while on active duty."

Luskin points out that Owen had sought legal advice prior to agreeing to publish his book, No Easy Day, and "scrupulously reviewed the work to ensure that it did not disclose any material that would breach his agreements or put his former comrades at risk. He remains confident that he has faithfully fulfilled his duty."

The attorney said that one of the two non-disclosure agreements signed by Owen did not require the former SEAL to submit his work for pre-publication review. He said the other agreement, the Sensitive Compartmented Information Nondisclosure Statement, does require a pre-publication security review "under certain circumstances" limited to "specifically identified Special Access Programs."

In his response Luskin argues that the Sensitive Compartmented Information Nondisclosure Statement applies to Special Access Programs identified on the date it was signed. "Accordingly, it is difficult to understand how the matter that is the subject of Mr. Owen's book could conceivably be encompassed by the non-disclosure agreement that you have identified."

Luskin said Owen is proud of his service and "has earned the right to tell his story; his abiding interest is to ensure that he is permitted to tell it while recognizing the letter and spirit of the law and his contractual undertakings."

A Defense official who had reviewed Luskin's response told ABC News that the former SEAL's security clearance compelled him to seek pre-publication review and that the non-disclosure agreements pre-dating the bin Laden raid are still binding. This official points out that though one of the agreements requires pre-publication reviews by DOD "under certain circumstances," they are always required.

Earlier Friday, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told reporters the letter was sent to Owen because he had violated the non-disclosure agreements and not submitted his book to the Pentagon for pre-publication review. "We take our agreements very seriously," he said. "We are very concerned that this book did not go through the pre-publication review."

He also said that no determination has been made yet as to whether the book does contain secrets. Little said Johnson's letter indicates "there is potential disclosure. He is not rendering determination."

Johnson's letter also warned "further public dissemination of your book will aggravate your breach and violation of your agreements." Little did not identify what potential actions the Defense Department is considering and would not say if there are plans to halt the book's scheduled release next Tuesday.

Little said the "onus" was on the author to take unspecified action and that the letter "was not meant to be any kind of intimidation."

Though the former SEAL said he will donate a majority of the book's profits to charities that help the families of fallen SEALs, Johnson's letter suggested that all of the book's royalties belong to the U.S. government.

According to Johnson, in signing the non-disclosure agreements the SEAL acknowledged he "assigned to the U.S. government ... all royalties, remunerations, and emoluments that have resulted, will result or may result from a disclosure, publication or revelation of classified information not consistent with the terms of this agreement."

Luskin represented Karl Rove during the investigation into who "outed" Valerie Plame as a CIA agent and most recently represented Lance Armstrong during his legal fight with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug212012

Kill Bin Laden? Game Lets People Re-Live the Experience

AFP/Getty Images(NEW HOPE, Minn.) -- Osama bin Laden has been dead for more than a year, but dozens of people are shelling out big bucks to kill him again in a real-life, role-play game in Minnesota.

Sealed Mindset Firearms Studio, which teaches firearms and personal safety in New Hope, Minn., is offering a special, limited-time exercise in which people can enact a SEAL-type mission and kill a fake bin Laden.

Billed as a “Navy SEAL Adventure,” the session simulates an actual SEAL operation.  A description on the company’s website says the two-hour operation begins with a briefing in which participants will learn their target is named “Geronimo.”

Geronimo was the code name for the operation that killed bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 2, 2011.

Participants in Sealed Mindset’s exercise are told they will plan with their platoon of eight people, learn to safely shoot the Navy SEAL’s “go-to weapon, a custom AR-15,” conduct a pre-mission live test fire at a shooting range and execute the mission, according to the website.

Each Geronimo SEAL adventure session costs $325 per person.  They started on July 12 and will run two or three times per week through Sept. 30.

Sealed Mindset is run by Larry Yatch, a former Navy SEAL, and his wife, Anne.  Anne Yatch on Monday said her husband was unavailable to comment.

More than 137 people had signed up for the exercise, according to a Minnesota Public Radio story four days ago.  The man who plays bin Laden told MPR that he wears rubber padding under his robe to protect him from paintball rounds.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan252012

Who Are the Members of Navy SEAL Team Six?

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The world will probably never find out which Navy SEALs rescued two aid workers in Somalia, or who fired the shot that killed Osama bin Laden in May 2011.

As part of the elite force that takes on the world's most dangerous assignments and took down the world's most wanted terrorist, members of SEAL Team Six are never identified, according to standard procedure, and don't seek personal fame.

American Jessica Buchanan and Danish citizen Poul Hagen Thisted were rescued Tuesday night by a team of SEALs in a raid near Gadaado, Somalia. Buchanan, 32, and Thisted, 60, had been held for three months after being captured by a band of Somalis in October.

So what do we know about the Navy SEALs whose operation involved parachuting into the area and engaging in a firefight with the Somali kidnappers? We know that it was an all-male rescue team, because all SEALs are men.

The average Navy SEAL is about 30 years old, with a bachelors and possibly a masters degree. He is most likely white and may have a wife and children, and is no doubt in perfect physical shape. Top-tier operators, as they're also known, are sometimes described as, without irony, warrior-athletes.

"They have gazelle legs, no waist and a huge upper body configuration and almost a mental block that says, 'I will not fail,'" said Richard Marcinko, the retired Navy SEAL commander who created the elite Team Six in 1980.

But he is also most likely hiding beneath a slightly disheveled exterior. Unlike other Navy SEALs, the members of SEAL Team Six most likely do not appear as clean cut. He probably uses "modified grooming standards" including a beard and longer hair designed to help him blend in when operating overseas.

Despite their nerves of steel and their real-life-action-movie day jobs, the men are nearly always unassuming. "If you've never met a Navy SEAL and you ran into one at a bar, you probably still wouldn't know he's a Navy SEAL," said former SEAL member Howard Wasdin.  

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug102011

Why Haven't Names of 30 Fallen US Soldiers Been Released?

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The names of the 30 Americans killed in this weekend’s deadly helicopter crash in Afghanistan have still not been publicly released by the Pentagon as is standard practice.

Delays in these kinds of announcements are to be expected as the Defense Department has to abide by a law that requires 24 hours to have passed following next of kin notifications before the names can be released publicly.  This was passed by Congress as a protective measure to give families enough time to grieve without having to worry about media interviews.

Though it is Defense Department policy to release the names of all servicemembers who have died while deployed in the War on Terror, in this case, Defense officials say the names have not been released yet because no decision has been made about whether it would be prudent to release the names.

It appears some officials in the Special Operations community are opposed to the names being made public.  A defense official says some of the arguments they have made to the Defense Department involve ensuring the safety of family members of the special operations forces killed in the crash.

Twenty-five of the 30 servicemembers killed in Saturday’s crash were from the special operations community and most of the Navy SEALS killed were members of the elite SEAL Team 6 that participated in the Osama bin Laden raid last May.

Though SEALs killed in the crash did not participate in the bin Laden raid, there is concern that their families -- or potentially other Team 6 members -- might become potential targets.

The irony is that despite an official release of names by the Defense Department, the majority of the names have already appeared in local news outlets as family and friends react to the loss of a loved one.

And even though releasing the names of the fallen is Defense Department policy, a Defense Secretary can change policy or make an exemption as needed.

Defense officials say Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has been presented with arguments about the pros and cons of making the names public.  It will be interesting to see if Panetta decides to follow the current policy or heed the concerns of special operations commanders.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug092011

Obama at Dover Air Force Base to Witness Return of Fallen Soldiers

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(DOVER, Dela.) -- President Obama arrived at Dover Air Force Base Tuesday to pay his respects to the fallen service members who lost their lives in this weekend’s deadly helicopter crash in Afghanistan, and to witness the dignified transfer of their remains.

The president arrived at Dover at 12:30 p.m. to see the arrival of the remains of the 22 SEALs, three Air Force controllers, and five Army helicopter crew killed Saturday when Taliban insurgents shot down a CH-47 Chinook in the Tangi Valley, marking the deadliest single attack in the Afghan war's ten year history.

The identities of the 30 victims are being withheld at this time.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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