Dick Marcinko and Harry Humphries

Richard Marcinko and the Seal Team

When it comes to men who went above the beyond the regular call of military duty, by revolutionizing branches of the U.S. Military, Richard Marcinko is one of those men at the top of any list. As noted by, Marcinko is “one of the United States’ most accomplished and recognized special operations experts.” Marcinko was a military veteran with 30-plus years of experience and was adept at many specialties like intelligence, counter-terrorism as well as special operations.

Marcinko’s Background

Born in Lansford, Pennsylvania on November 21, 1940, Marcinko is of Slovakian and Croatian lineage. When it came to his consideration of the military, at first, Marcinko took an interest in wanting to join the Marine Corps. But when he went to sign up for the USMC, he was not allowed in without a high school diploma. Because of this rejection by the Marines, Marcinko decided to enlist in the Navy at 18. The rest, they say, is history (important Naval military history).

Medals, Accolades, and The Vietnam War

Richard Marcinko’s earned many medals during his military service. According to Marcinko has a combined total of 34 citations and medals. These medals and commendations include the following: Four Bronze Stars, a Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, the Special Warfare insignia and the Defense Meritorious Service Medal.

Marcinko also received the Navy Commendation Medal, the Combat Action Ribbon, the Presidential Unit Citation, the Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal as well as the Vietnam Service Medal. Marcinko also received the Naval Parachutist insignia and the Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star.

Marcinko earned some of these medals from having one of the most successful Seal Teal missions during the Vietnam War. And on May 18, 1967, Richard Marcinko led fellow Seals in a full assault on Ilo Ilo Hon. This is where Marcinko and his other men killed many Viet Cong and eliminated over five of the enemy’s sampans. This operation that Marcinko was part of could be considered the U.S. Navy’s most triumphant operation involving the Navy Seals in this Mekong Delta area during the Vietnam War.

Marcinko, The Navy And The Rise of a Tier 1 Seal Team

While in the U.S. Navy, noted that “Marcinko worked his way up to the rank of commander. He is best known as the founder and first commanding officer of two of the military’s premier counter-terrorist units: SEAL Team Six and RED CELL.” With those types of firsts, Richard Marcinko separated himself from the rest of the pack with his ability to lead and have successful missions. And during his two tours in Vietnam, Marcinko stood out — especially to the enemy, which was the North Vietnamese (Viet Cong) and their allies. Marcinko and the Seal Teams that he was directly involved with during the Vietnam war were so successful, that the Viet Cong (VC) had posted a reward of 50 thousand French Indochinese piasters for killing him. This according to

The fallout of Operation Eagle Claw

Because of the ill-fated attempt to rescue hostages during Operation Eagle Claw which resulted in the accidental deaths of eight American servicemen and one Iranian civilian Marcinko had the capability of presenting and creating a new counter-terrorism unit. Marcinko believed the U.S. Navy especially the Seals were much more capable to handle counter-terror operations than Charles Beckwith’s unit. With the attempt of Operation Eagle Claw on many of the Pentagon’s minds, they green-lighted the establishment of this new secretive unit. Thus began the training and creation of Seal Team Six the U.S. Navy’s premier Tier 1 unit. 

The Rise of Red Cell

Red Cell was formed after Marcinko relinquished command Seal Team Six. Red Cell’s primary mission was to infiltrate American bases, nuclear submarines, Navy ships, and other places to show weakness and vulnerabilities inside U.S. military infostructures. During the timeframe of Red Cell, they were highly cristisied for kidnapping high ranking officers other personnel while videotaping their activities to later embarrass these leaders. Red Cell was comprised of former Seal Team Six members as well as one Force Recon Marine.

Marcinko’s Post-Military Life

Today, at 77, Marcinko has quite a full life. He has written many books on his special military career. In fact, Marcinko has written both non-fiction and fiction books. His fiction titles include Red Cell (1994), Green Team (1995), Task Force Blue (1996), Designation Gold (1997), SEAL Force Alpha (1998), Option Delta (1999), Echo Platoon (2000), Detachment Bravo (2001), Violence of Action (2002), Vengeance (2005), Holy Terror (2006), Dictator’s Ransom (2008), Seize the Day (2009), Domino Theory (2011), Blood Lies (2012) as well as Rogue Warrior: Curse of the Infidel (2014).

Prior to his publication of Red Cell, Richard Marcinko wrote the non-fiction book, Rogue Warrior (1993). Marcinko’s other non-fiction books include Leadership Secrets of the Rogue Warrior: A Commando’s Guide to Success (1997) and The Real Team (1999).

In addition, Marcinko worked as an advisor to films like The Rock, 24 (Season 5) as well as G.I. Jane, Marcinko also worked with Bethesda Softworks gaming company on the video game, Rogue Warrior — it was released in late 2009.

Lieutenant Thomas Norris

In the spring of 1972, an American electronic surveillance plane was shot down over North Vietnam. One crewman survived the crash and narrowly escaped capture. The Air Force launched an unprecedented rescue effort. In five days, 14 people were killed, eight aircraft were lost, two rescuers were captured and two more were stranded behind enemy lines.

On April 10, 1972, Lieutenant Thomas Norris led a five-man patrol deep into enemy territory. Separating temporarily from his patrol, he traveled alone through the jungle and located one of the downed pilots just before dawn. He led his crew safely back to their forward operating base. Later that day, a North Vietnamese rocket attack on the small base inflicted devastating casualties and compelled the medical evacuation of the one other American officer, the remaining Vietnamese officers and all but a remnant of the Vietnamese supporting force. After an unsuccessful attempt to rescue the first missing flier, two of Norris’s three remaining Vietnamese commandos proved unwilling to accompany Norris on further missions.

On the afternoon of the 12th, a forward air controller located the first pilot and notified Lt. Norris. Dressed as fishermen, Lt. Norris and a Vietnamese comrade, Nguyen Van Kiet, paddled a sampan up the river and found the injured pilot at dawn. Concealing him in the bottom of their vessel, Norris and Kiet headed down river to their base, dodging one North Vietnamese patrol and surviving heavy machine gun fire from a bunker along the river. This extraordinary rescue has been recounted in numerous books and a feature film, BAT-21, the Air Force code name for the original reconnaissance mission.

The following October he received a near-fatal head wound in action and was rescued by his fellow Navy SEAL, Michael Thornton. At first, Norris’s doctors gave him little chance of recovery, but with constant encouragement from his family and from Michael Thornton, Norris fought on. In time, Norris and Thornton enjoyed the unique satisfaction of witnessing each other’s Medal of Honor ceremonies at the White House. Thomas Norris ultimately realized his youthful ambition of joining the FBI. After many years of distinguished service in FBI hostage rescue operations, he now enjoys a well-earned retirement in Idaho.