Richard Marcinko, first commanding officer of Seal Team 6, dies at 81

Retired Navy SEAL and the first commanding officer of SEAL Team Six, Richard “Dick” Marcinko, has died, according to a post on the Navy Seal Museum’s Facebook page.

He was 81.

Marcinko led the SEAL team in what has become known as the Navy’s most successful SEAL operation during the Vietnam War: the May 1967 assault on Ilo Ilo Han. Marcinko and his men killed many Viet Cong and destroyed six of their sampans, according to the Navy SEAL Museum. Marcinko deployed a second time with SEAL Team Two during the Vietnam War. His platoon assisted Army Special Forces during the Tet Offensive.

After returning to the United States, Marcinko deployed to Vietnam for a second time, during which he participated in the Tet Offensive.

The North Vietnamese placed a bounty of Marcinko’s head because of his effective leadership, but he evaded the enemy. He would go on to earn four Bronze Stars, as well as the Silver Star and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. Altogether he earned 34 citations and medals.

After serving as one of two Navy representatives on an unsuccessful task force intended to free American hostages during the Iran hostage crisis in 1979, Marcinko was tapped to design and lead an elite counterterrorism team, which later became SEAL Team 6. The name was intended to fool the Soviet Union and other adversaries into thinking that the U.S. had more SEAL teams than it did.

Marcinko commanded SEAL Team 6 from August 1980 to July 1983. He was also the author of several books, including his 1993 New York Times bestselling autobiography, “Rogue Warrior.” The book would lead to several spinoff novels.

“The SEALs who knew Dick Marcinko will remember him as imaginative and bold, a warrior at heart,” retired Navy SEAL Adm. Eric Olson told Navy Times. “He was a spirited rogue for sure, but we are better off for his unconventional service.”


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