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How did they start, this honored group of men who serve with such intensity??
In the 1960s, the Soviet Union’s ally, North Vietnam, was fighting against a U.S. ally, South Vietnam. President Kennedy wanted to send in small teams of guerrilla fighters to help South Vietnam. With the Army’s Green Beret unit already set up, it was time for the Navy to create its own Special Operations unit. Building on the training of the UDTs, the Navy SEALs (an acronym for Sea, Air, and Land) were created. Their training readied them for the work ahead in the jungles, coasts, and rivers of Vietnam. Their task was to go behind enemy lines and raid enemy camps, sabotage supplies, cut off enemy communications, and destroy stored ammunition. They were very successful in their missions.
With the Vietnam War ending without victory, many cuts were made in military spending, and the number of Special Forces units were in many cases cut in half. The success of the SEALs in Vietnam, however, proved their value.
Hooyah! — the war cry of the Navy SEALs — becomes an automatic response for SEALs during the torturous SEAL training. While there may be other variations in meaning, “hooyah” generally means “yes,” “understood,” and “I’m not letting this evolution get the best of me.” (Evolution is the term used for each event in the training schedule.)
SEAL training is brutal. It takes over 30 months to train a Navy SEAL to the point at which he will be ready for deployment. The SEALs that emerge are ready to handle pretty much any task they could be called on to perform, including diving, combat swimming, navigation, demolitions, weapons, and parachuting. The training pushes them to the limit both mentally and physically in order to weed out those who may not be able to successfully complete the demanding missions and operations with which SEALs are faced. The types of stresses they endure during BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL) are the same stresses they will endure as SEALs. If they can’t withstand it when lives aren’t on the line, chances are good they won’t be able to withstand it when lives are at stake.
Entering training to become a Navy SEAL is voluntary. Anyone can volunteer, and officers and enlisted men train side by side. In order to enter SEAL training, however, they do have to meet certain requirements. Those wishing to volunteer for SEAL training have to:
- be an active-duty member of the U.S. Navy
- be a man (women aren’t allowed to be Navy SEALs)
- be 28 or younger (although waivers for 29- and 30-year-olds are possible)
- have good vision — at least 20/40 in one eye and 20/70 in the other (corrective surgery is also possible)
- be a U.S. citizen
- pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB)
- Pass a stringent physical screening test that includes the following procedure: swim 500 yards in 12.5 minutes or less, followed by a 10-minute rest; do 42 push-ups in under two minutes, followed by a two-minute rest; do 50 sit-ups in under two minutes, followed by a two-minute rest; do six pull-ups, followed by a 10-minute rest; run 1.5 miles in boots and long pants in less than 11.5 minutes
Once a potential SEAL qualifies for training, the real fun starts.
Come back tomorrow for the next part.