By Su Phelps and Cheri Fisher, Photos by Su Phelps
Richard “Dick” Marcinko is a retired U.S. Navy SEAL commander and Vietnam War veteran, he was the first commanding officer of SEAL Team Six and Red Cell. After retiring from the United States Navy, he became an author (which he has written and co-written 20 books), radio talk show host, military consultant, and motivational speaker.
In January 1967, Ensign Richard Marcinko deployed to Vietnam with 2nd Platoon, SEAL Team TWO for a 6-month tour of duty. On May 18, 1967, Marcinko led his men in an assault on Ilo Ilo Hon (Ilo Ilo Island), where they killed a large number of Viet Cong and destroyed six of their sampans. This action would be called the “most successful SEAL operation in the Mekong Delta” by the U.S. Navy. For leading it, Marcinko was awarded the first of his four Bronze Stars, as well as a Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star.
Marcinko returned to Vietnam with SEAL Team TWO after a few months stateside as Officer-in-Charge of 8th Platoon from Dec 1967 to June 1968. During the Tet Offensive, Marcinko ordered his platoon to assist U.S. Army Special Forces at Châu Đốc.[
After completing his second tour in Vietnam and a two-year stateside staff assignment, Marcinko was promoted to Lieutenant Commander and assigned as the Naval Attache to Cambodia in 1973. After serving in Cambodia for 18 months, Marcinko returned stateside and assumed command of SEAL Team Two from 1974 to 1976.
During the Iran hostage crisis in 1979, Marcinko was one of two Navy representatives for a Joint Chiefs of Staff task force known as the TAT (Terrorist Action Team). The purpose of the TAT was to develop a plan to free the American hostages held in Iran which culminated in Operation Eagle Claw. In the wake of the debacle, the Navy saw the need for a full-time dedicated counter-terrorist team and tasked Marcinko with its design and development.
Marcinko was the first commanding officer of this new unit. At the time, the Navy had only two SEAL teams. Marcinko purportedly named the unit SEAL Team Six in order to confuse other nations, specifically the Soviet Union, into believing that the United States had at least three other SEAL teams that they were unaware of. He personally selected the unit’s members from across the U.S. Navy’s special operations community, including a special counter-terrorist tactics section of SEAL Team Two, codenamed MOB-6. SEAL Team Six would be the Navy’s premier counter-terrorist unit, like its Army counterpart Delta Force.
Commander Marcinko retired from the Navy on February 1, 1989 with thirty years, three months and 17 days of enlisted and commissioned active duty service.
Now he has partnered with George Harris with Fubar Tequila where part of the proceeds goes to veteran’s organizations, when you buy a Camo bottle or the Womans Cancer research when you buy a pink one.