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The History and Heritage of the U.S. Navy SEALs

Authored by retired Navy SEAL Tom Hawkins and published by the Museum & Library in conjunction with its online exhibitthis original work offers an in-depth look at the history and heritage of U.S. Navy SEALs.

Commander Tom Hawkins, who retired from the U.S. Navy after 24 years of active service as a Naval Special Warfare SEAL, researched and wrote this 64-page softcover book to provide a detailed account of the beginnings of Naval Special Warfare and the SEALs: their missions, their role in various wars, and their evolution over the years. 

During World War II, the U.S. Navy began developing its Amphibious Forces with several Amphibious Training Bases along the East and West coasts. These bases would train recruits in landing-craft operations. The Amphibious Forces would go on to develop special mission units including Scouts & Raiders, Naval Combat Demolition Units (NCDUs) and Underwater Demolition Teams (UDTs).

The first mention of "SEALs" occured on March 10, 1961 in a memorandum to Admiral Arleigh Burke, Chief of Naval Operations. This memo focused onAmphibious Forces that had recently conducted operations in restricted waters, and proposed the development of two new units through wich all elements of this specialized capability would be channelled. Admiral Burke approved the proposal, and the U.S. Navy SEALs were born.

"An appropriate name for such units should be 'SEAL' Units; SEAL being a contraction of SEA, AIR, LAND, and thereby indicating an all-around, universal capability." 

Since then, the Navy SEALs have grown and developed into one of the most elite fighting forces in the world. The History and Heritage of the U.S. Navy SEALs takes a look at this development and the impact of such a force on military operations in the years since.