Retired Navy SEAL and the first commanding officer of SEAL Team Six, Richard “Dick” Marcinko, has died, according to a post on the Navy Seal Museum’s Facebook page.
He was 81.
Marcinko led the SEAL team in what has become known as the Navy’s most successful SEAL operation during the Vietnam War: the May 1967 assault on Ilo Ilo Han. Marcinko and his men killed many Viet Cong and destroyed six of their sampans, according to the Navy SEAL Museum. Marcinko deployed a second time with SEAL Team Two during the Vietnam War. His platoon assisted Army Special Forces during the Tet Offensive.
He was one of two Navy representatives on a task force to help free American hostages during the Iran hostage crisis in 1979. After the tragedy, the Navy tasked Marcinko with designing and developing a dedicated counterterrorist team.
Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Thomas B. Hayward selected Marcinko as the first commanding officer of the unit. At the time, the Navy had two SEAL teams. According to the Navy SEAL museum, Marcinko named the unit “SEAL Team Six” to make other nations believe there were additional SEAL teams. He also hand-picked members from across existing SEAL teams and Underwater Demolition Teams. Marcinko led SEAL Team Six for three years.
“The SEALs who knew Dick Marcinko will remember him as imaginative and bold, a warrior at heart,” retired Navy SEAL Adm. Eric Olson, who commanded U.S. Special Operations Command from July, 2007 to August, 2011, told Navy Times. “He was a spirited rogue for sure, but we are better off for his unconventional service.”
William McRaven, the retired Navy SEAL admiral who oversaw the raid that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and followed Olson as SOCOM commander, was once relieved of command by Marcinko over a clash in leadership styles, according to a biography.
“Dick Marcinko was one of the more colorful characters in Naval Special Warfare history,” McRaven told Navy Times. “While we had some disagreements when I was a young officer, I always respected his boldness, his ingenuity and his unrelenting drive for success. I hope he will be remembered for his numerous contributions to the SEAL community.”
After retiring from the Navy, Marcinko became CEO of SOS Temps Inc., his private security firm, according to his Amazon author profile.
Marcinko was the author of The Real Team; The Rogue Warrior’s Strategy for Success: A Commando’s Principles of Winning; and the four-month New York Times business bestseller Leadership Secrets of the Rogue Warrior: A Commando’s Guide to Success, according to Amazon.
He also created Richard Marcinko Inc., a motivational training and team-building company; and Red Cell International, Inc., which conducts vulnerability assessments of high-value properties and high-risk targets, according to Amazon.
“Rogue Warrior, his #1 New York Times bestselling autobiography, set the stage for his bestselling Rogue Warrior novels, eight of which were coauthored with John Weisman,” according to Amazon.
This is a developing story. Stay with Navy Times for updates.
Howard Altman is an award-winning editor and reporter who was previously the military reporter for the Tampa Bay Times and before that the Tampa Tribune, where he covered USCENTCOM, USSOCOM and SOF writ large among many other topics.