Roy Boehm had persuaded President Kennedy to grant a Presidential Order for the establishment of the US Navy SEALs in the wake of theCuban fiasco with the Bay of Pigs invasion. Boehm now had to deliver on his vision but not everyone shared his ideas or liked the concept of an unconventional warrior elite within the US Navy.
Boehm set about putting together a hand-picked team of highly motivated individuals with a flair for the unconventional. What was needed was a highly trained commando force that would be capable of conducting offensive strategic operations ahead of any amphibious invasion force. Boehm drew heavily on the World War 2 Frogmen and UDT units with his SEALs being exceptional individuals, rigorously trained and highly effective warriors. He didn’t stop there and SEALs spent time in prisons learning tricks of the clandestine trade for lock picking, safe breaking and hot wiring cars. In fact, any experience that could be used on operations was taken aboard no matter what the source or how unconventional and this did not always win friends from the established Navy community.
World War 2 was a breeding ground for special forces of all descriptions but resentment simmered with regular conventional doctrine denigrating the use and need for them. Breaking the rules with equipment modifications and unconventional tactics being employed while initiative and self-reliance were prized over parade ground presentation, senior officers did not like what they could not understand. Boehm and his team had to face the same treatment as World War II innovators.Boehm himself had to contend withfive court-martials on charges stemming from unauthorized modification of equipment and private purchase of weaponry while putting the SEALs together.
To prove his point, Boehm and his embryonic SEALs broke into asuperior’s offices and photographed all of the contents including confidential and classified documents. Then they rounded up the guards using a stolen bus and herding them into it on the pretext of a lecture on base security. Taking the assembled officers and guards to a hall they proceeded to show them what they had done as a practical demonstration of their ability. Boehm was draggedbefore his commander to explain what he had been up to and the next day flew up to Washington DC to face the music.
Fortunately for Boehm and his SEALs, President Kennedy, a distinguishedformer Naval officer himself,did see where Boehm was going in making the SEALs vision a reality and issued a Presidential Priority One Order to cut through military red tape.
The detractors of the SEALs concept backed down but Boehm still had to deliver an operational unit.
This Article is written by James Kara Murat