Combat Swimmer: Memoirs of a Navy Seal
Robert A. Gormly. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1998. 272 pp. Index. $23.95 ($21.55).
Reviewed by Captain Dick Couch, USNR (Retired)
Perhaps the last thing that serious military book enthusiasts want or need is another personal history of a Vietnam-era Navy SEAL. There are a number of them in print and most of these are self-serving accounts laced with liberal doses of vulgarity, questionable heroism, and accusations of incompetence on the part of higher command. Fortunately, Gormly's book is not one of these. On the contrary, it is a straightforward account of his 29-year career in Naval Special Warfare, a career that had a unique blend of combat experience and highly visible command tours. Captain Gormly was the first of his kind and one of the last of his breed. He was among the first officers to spend his entire career in Naval Special Warfare and one of the last to cut his teeth as a junior SEAL officer in Vietnam and rise to senior command. It is therefore not surprising that most of Combat Swimmer is devoted to two subjects: SEAL combat operations in Vietnam and Gormly's command of SEAL Team Six.