Prisoners of War (POW), alongside with those missing in action (MIA) have been honored in a September 17, 2010 event called the National POW/MIA Recognition Day. This was observed both by the Navy and the US Armed Forces and was publicized in a US Navy SEALs website.
Celebrations such as this are being made to signify the heroism and patriotism of the US Armed Forces. In view of this, let us take a closer look at how US Navy SEALs participated in previous wars.
The Vietnam War
Navy SEALs started being deployed to Vietnam right after they were founded by then President John F. Kennedy in 1962. Their main role back then was to become teachers to Vietnamese military forces. According to SpecwarNet, later on, SEALs became what Vietnamese called as “Men with green faces”. This started when they served in direction assaults using the Rung SAT and Mekong Delta Special Zones. Serving in groups consisting of six to eight SEALs, they would patrol in ambush areas and focused more on political leaders and figures rather than kill enemy soldiers.
This event led the Vietnamese military to give rewards to their soldiers who captured a US Navy SEAL. The NVA/VC soldiers were not able to capture a single SEAL during that time although they have held Navy Captain Jim Mulligan captive from March 20, 1966 to February 12, 1973. Being held by the enemies for almost seven years made Mulligan a POW during the Vietnam War.
The Persian Gulf War
Even before this war, Navy SEALs were already present in the Persian Gulf. SEALs participated in a special operation called the Operation Earnest Will. Being active in the operations for 2 years (from 1987 to 1989), SEALs took part in a special policing force that prevented Iranians from planting mines in one of the maritime seaways used by some of the world’s oil tankers. They have assaulted the Iran Ajr, a ship found seeding mines on the area by US Army Scout helicopters.
Navy SEALs from Team Five were also deployed by the NAVSPECWAR together with Kuwaiti combat craft marine units and Navy Special Boat Units during the Gulf War. They were able to enter the borders before the Iraqis sealed it. Navy SEALs, back then, were tasked to help locate assaulted or downed pilots. They were also responsible for disabling mines in patrols. In fact, out of the 92 missions they have attended, they have destroyed around 25 mines.
They also took part in missions that rescued prisoners of war during that time. Those that were attached to the USS Nicholas came in close contact with Iraqi soldiers. They were able to kill 5 members of the Iraqi military while rescuing 23 prisoners.
Afghanistan and Iraq Wars
SEALs have also served well in Afghanistan. They played a role in searching for Taliban terrorists. During this mission, First Class Petty Officer Thomas Retzer was found dead after his convoy was ambushed. Two other Navy SEALs were wounded during this assault by the Talibans.
In 2003, around 250 Navy SEALs were also sent by then President George Bush for an invasion in Iraq. During this time, they were able to protect the sabotage of certain facilities. They were also responsible for the capture of two Oil-transfer terminals.
During the Iraqi invasion, NAVY SEALs also helped rescue prisoners of war who were held captive by Iraqis from March 23, 2003 to April 23, 2003. Prisoners of war like SPC Joseph Hudson and SPC Shoshanna Johnson from the Army could not have been rescued without their help.
NAVY SEALs are willing to save lives of those who have been held captive during wars. They have also played a great role in military operations. This is the reason behind why we all have to celebrate their heroism.
This Article is written by James Kara Murat