"When you're called upon to do anything, and you're not ready to do it, then you've failed." — Guidance given by Commander W.H. Hamilton to Lt. Commander Roy Boehm when Boehm was given the task of organizing the first SEAL unit.
WHO ARE THEY: Elite Naval Special Warfare teams trained for specialized "Sea, Air and Land" missions.
MOTTO: "The only easy day was yesterday."
UNIFORM: Distinctive Trident insignia, showing Neptune's scepter crossed with the anchor and a pistol, an American eagle with its head bowed.
ORIGIN: Evolved from the Naval combat demolition units and underwater demolition teams that cleared obstacles at beaches for Allied invasions during World War II.
SPECIALTIES: Sabotage missions to destroy enemy bridges, roads, obstructions, communications lines, and what's known as "surgical application of force." Origins are in the water, from oceans to rivers, but also adept at clandestine reconnaissance and rescue operations on land.
GEAR: Rigid, inflatable boats; modified, miniature submarines called SEAL Delivery Vehicles or SDVs; explosives, including hand-held limpet mines that can be attached to a ship's hull underwater and detonated once a diver swims safely away. In the Persian Gulf War, they used Desert Patrol/Light Strike Vehicles, modified off-road racing vehicles, to race across the desert.
EXTREME TRAINING: To "drown-proof" the SEALs, they must learn to swim underwater with their hands and feet bound. With such training they're known as some of the best combat swimmers in the world.
WORKING GROUPS: Work 16-member platoons, but special missions can involve just a handful of men.
EXPERIENCE: Surveyed harbors in Cuba, 1962; Vietnam and Southeast Asia, 1962-1971; recovered astronauts from Gemini and Apollo missions, 1964-1970; Grenada, 1983; Panama, 1989; Iraq, 1991; Kosovo, 1999.
HOME BASES: Little Creek, Va; Coronado, Calif.
HOLLYWOOD'S VERSION: "Navy Seals," 1990; "G.I. Jane, 1997.
BOOKS: "Navy SEALs: A History of the Early Years," by Kevin Dockery, 2001; "First SEAL," by Roy Boehm and Charles W. Saaer, 1997; "Brave Men, Dark Waters," by Kelly Orr, 1992; "Combat Frogmen," by Michael Welhan, 1989.
— Scripps-Howard News Service.