A popular 1990s book propagated dubious assertions about the birth of the Navy SEALs. Here’s the true story.
Some damaging mythologies have become common in discussions, articles, books, and speeches regarding the conceptualization, formation, and establishment of the U.S. Navy’s SEAL teams. Among those myths is one put forth by Lieutenant Commander Roy Boehm in his 1997 book First SEA L. In it, Boehm suggests that he was the Navy’s first SEAL, and a man fighting alone against a Navy command structure unwilling to recognize the value of naval special warfare. He would have us believe that, through the force of his own ideas and persona, he created the SEALs, handpicked the personnel, and secretly trained them. He further claims that SEAL Team Two was the first team established in the Navy, and that he was its first commanding officer or “officer-in charge.” These claims are demonstrably false.