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By Chief Mass Communication Specialist (SCW/AW) Stan Travioli


BOBLINGEN, Germany (NNS) -- As part of their individual culture of fitness and SEAL Ethos, nine U.S. Navy SEALs completed a successful eight-day climb up Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, July 26, which proved to be a very personal experience for one of the participants.


"There are plenty of people who do it Kilimanjaro, said Lt. Cmdr. Chris Irwin, executive officer of Naval Special Warfare Unit 2, who led the expedition in memory of his father, Paul.


"It's not difficult like Everest, which is a technical climb. But it was harder than we thought.


"I had altitude issues, and most of the guys had one issue or another," said Irwin.


Although SEALs are some of the fittest athletes in the world, many of the team members spent a few weeks hiking with heavy packs to prepare.


"The company has porters to help you carry supplies and gear up; you normally only carry a small backpack with water and snacks in it," said Irwin.


But being SEALs, they had to make it a bit more challenging, so they carried a lot of their personal gear instead of using porters, something some climbers say only a few attempt.


The crew climbed a few thousand feet each day with overnight stays to acclimate and rest before the next day's push.


"It was gorgeous, said Irwin. "We went through five different climate zones, forests, desert and then at the top there are gigantic glaciers."


For Irwin, this trip was important to him for a very personal reason. His father, Paul, attempted to climb the 19,331 foot summit, but a racing heart stopped him short of the peak. Two years later, while on a walking safari in Tanzania, Paul suffered a fatal heart attack.


Chris completed the dream of his father, with support from fellow SEALs. The team used leave time to finish his father's mission.


"I wanted to take some of his ashes to the top and spread them," said Chris. "This whole thing became a personal thing. I wanted to do what my dad tried in 2005 and did not make it to the top."


Climbing the mountain costs several thousand dollars, money that most can't afford to spend. So Chris created the nonprofit group the Paul Irwin Memorial Climb Fund, in his personal time, to benefit the American Heart Association.


Through an online Web site and friends the nine climbers raised more than $15,000 to cover the cost of climb and donated 75 percent of the proceeds to the association, all during their non-duty time.


"There are a lot of charities that give to the SEALs but here is a chance for us as SEALs to give back," said Irwin.


Hundreds of people donated time and money to help Chris honor his father. At the summit, Chris spread some of his father's ashes.


"I knew it was going to be emotional, and it played out mostly like I imagined it would," said Irwin.


The Navy's culture of fitness keep Irwin and his shipmates -- who are often deployed around the globe -- ready for any contingency, whether personal or professional.


For more news from Naval Special Warfare Group 2, visit

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PGA TOUR helps honor U.S. - Navy SEAL Michael Anthony Monsoor


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See the Navy SEAL video at



CBSNews.Com Political Hot Sheet



May 25, 2009 8:39 AM






Navy SEALs And The Sign On The Door



Posted by Kimberly Dozier






The first thing most people get wrong about Navy SEALs is that they love the limelight.






"Three Navy SEAL snipers take out Somali pirates," the headlines trumpeted a few weeks back. "Head shots, every one!"






In Coronado, where they put incoming would-be SEALs through BUDs, there were groans. BUDs stands for Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL - the six-month course you have to get through, just to start the three-year process of becoming a SEAL.






"Oh, great," they were saying. "Now, everyone will think, 'how cool to be a SEAL.' Now we'll get a bunch of young guys trying to sign up who think this is some kind of video game."






In other words, young kids who think it's easy to go out and blow things up, and kill people - kids who have no idea the time, training or sheer force of will it takes to do the job. (That's one of the reasons the Naval Special Warfare Command has allowed us to film BUDs make-or-break **** Week, the most access the SEAL command has granted to training at their Coronado base since 2003.)






The media didn't help - every network was pursuing interviews with "the three SEAL shooters." Not the entire SEAL unit, or two, or however many were there, who carried out the entire mission. Nor any of the Navy sailors on the boat who provided support, and trawl those waters for several months without a port call, trying to catch up with those fast pirate boats like a swimming elephant trying to catch a water skeeter.






The SEALs said no.






That's why it's so remarkable the SEAL command let the lieutenant we profiled tell his story. They don't normally do that.






But his "sign on the door" that he posted on his hospital room, at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, had become an internet sensation. It was snapped by some folks visiting injured troops and sent round and round - not just to troops and their families coping with combat injuries, but to trauma patients and cancer patients and anyone facing an uphill battle to recover.






It read something like this:






Attention to all who enter here. If you are coming into this room with sorrow or to feel sorry for my wounds, go elsewhere. The wounds I received I got doing a job I love, doing it for people I love, supporting the freedom of a country I deeply love. I am incredibly tough and will make a full recovery. What is full? That is the utmost physically my body has the ability to recover. Then I will push that about 20% further through sheer mental tenacity. This room you are about to enter is a room of fun, optimism, and intense rapid re-growth. If you are not prepared for that, go elsewhere.



The Management






That was aimed at anyone who walked in his room and wanted to offer pity for how he looked, what he'd lost, and how much he faced to come back.






Lt. Jay's face had been half-shot-off. Few who looked at him could picture him whole again - but that projected horror didn't help his recovery. He was having to cope with his own doubt, and deal with theirs too. Not welcome, hence the sign.






So many of us who've been in that situation said, "Amen, more of that. Where's the T-shirt?" (And by the way, he has designed T-shirts that, among other things, explain that he was combat injured, emblazoned with the words, "What have you done for your country lately?" That's helped answer the odd stares he gets from children, and sometimes their parents, at the local Wal-Mart, peering at his nose, or lack thereof, during his long recovery.)






The SEAL command decided that was a story worth sharing.






It's not glamorous, not Hollywood. It's not about Afghanistan, which is currently all the rage with the media and Washington - while more than a hundred thousand U.S. troops continue to labor on and risk their lives in Iraq.






And there was no neat end to the mission, like: dead: three pirates; safe and well: one American captain.






Lt. Jay was injured in al Anbar - that place the Sunni Awakening turned into a haven, instead of **** hole, for U.S. troops. It wasn't so great in 2007 when Lt. Jay took his patrol through a field to net a target, only to find the targets lying in wait to ambush his team.






They're still rebuilding Lt. Jay's nose, two years later. As he explains in the video, they're also rebuilding his arm - including trying to create a working elbow. So there's no neat, happy ending to his recovery either. He doesn't know if he'll get back to the fight - and his wife is secretly (almost out loud) is hoping he won't. As much as she loves him and, also, because she loves him that much, she doesn't want either of them to go through this again.






So this is no Demi Moore G.I. Jane movie. No heroine-saves-the-day ending.






And SEALs lately have become a bit of a kicking post here in D.C., where it' vogue among many political and military circles to say that SEALs in particular, and other special operating forces in general, are part of the reason the war hasn't gone the right way in Afghanistan, or in Pakistan's neighboring frontier provinces.






They are criticized by some conventional force commanders because they operate via a separate chain of command, moving in and out of battle space "owned" by the conventional forces. Some of these commanders still make a habit of grumbling that SEAL and SOF missions - focused on taking out Taliban or al Qaeda targets - cause too much collateral damage, which hurts attempts to win trust among the locals.






(Witness the controversy over what happened in Farah province - allegedly, Marine Corps special forces known as MARSOC helped call in air strikes, at the request of Afghan officials, when the Taliban entered a town. Afghan officials now allege the strikes were unnecessary, and killed up to 140 civilians. U.S. military officials say the number is more like 33 killed, with most of them Taliban.)






So it can be pretty thankless being a SEAL commander arguing your point in a place like D.C.






Perhaps that's why the Special Warfare Command would rather hold up Lt. Jay's painful, imperfect, hard fought and hard won struggle to recover - because as every SEAL has told me, making it through BUDs is the easy part. It only gets harder from there.






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No stardom, no glitz, just honor for SEALs



(U.S. Navy file photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Kathryn Whittenberger/Released)





San Diego Union-Tribune

2:00 a.m. April 19, 2009






I half-expected them to appear on “The Today Show.”


Or maybe toss out the first pitch at that new Yankee Stadium. Or show up in grainy video on, grabbing a latte at Starbucks.


I'm conditioned that way. In this age of instant celebrity, I figured the three Navy SEAL snipers who took out three pirates off the coast of Somalia last week would get the full star treatment.


Lady GaGa gets it. David Beckham gets it. Even a sweet Scottish spinster who can belt out Broadway tunes is getting it.


Not these guys. We won't even learn their names. They remain anonymous because they and the Navy want it that way.


The SEALs are true heroes, of course, but they're the old-fashioned kind. They do the amazing and then slip back into the scenery, leaving us to wonder who they were.


They're different. Way, way different. And that's refreshing.


“It's not about accolades, medals or recognition,” said Nicholas Rocha, a former SEAL and co-founder of the United Warrior Survivor Foundation in Coronado, which helps spouses of special forces operatives lost in duty. “It's about that person to your left, that person to your right.”


SEALs go into it knowing they won't be needing any Hollywood agent, no matter what they pull off.


It's ironic. Many in today's world seek (and get) publicity for the most ridiculous reasons. They go on reality shows to date a fading rock star. They have eight babies. SEALs seek no attention for genuinely valiant deeds.


“What's the purpose?” Rocha said. “How does that help you do your job?”


Who are these people? Who can so easily shrug off the spotlight, which, today, only burns brighter if there's actual heroism involved?


Check out Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the US Airways pilot who made that emergency landing on the Hudson River, sparing all 150 passengers.


He was a media darling for weeks after his incredible landing. He was on “60 Minutes.” He was invited to President Barack Obama's inauguration. He and other crew members received a standing ovation before the Super Bowl.


Who wouldn't want a piece of that?


Well, SEALs wouldn't.


“They're silent warriors,” said Cmdr. Greg Geisen, a spokesman for the Coronado-based Naval Special Warfare Command.


Geisen was swamped with requests from the media wanting to talk to the SEALs who saved the life of the cargo ship captain, Richard Phillips.


Some were surprised no interviews would be given.


SEALs don't do media interviews because they don't like to be singled out. They are members of a team, and their team is first and foremost, Geisen said. Publicity also could endanger them or their families if their identities were revealed.


The SEALs have a creed that says, in part: “I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions.”


They live up to it, even now, when multimillion-dollar athletes can make national news for whining that they don't get the ball enough.


This recent SEAL action was unusual because it took place so publicly. Pirates boarded a cargo ship and took Phillips hostage, drawing international media coverage.


The pirates held Phillips for five days onboard the ship's lifeboat. The Navy destroyer Bainbridge was sent to help. The SEALs parachuted from a helicopter and climbed onboard the Navy ship.


From the back of the ship, they took aim at the pirates in that bobbing lifeboat, only their heads and shoulders exposed. When ordered to shoot, the snipers simultaneously fired. Three shots. Three kills.


The world was riveted.


“Normally, our operations are secret,” Geisen said. And, of course, dangerous.


More than 240 special operations warriors from units across all branches of the military have died since Sept. 11, 2001.


It was the loss of a fellow SEAL in the mountains of Afghanistan that inspired Rocha to start his support group in 2002.


Many widows need more assistance than what the government provides, so the foundation gives college scholarships and other support to those women. Many put their ambitions on hold when following their husbands' military careers.


About the only local spot that publicly honors SEALs is McP's Irish Pub in Coronado. Pictures of Vietnam-era SEALs hang on the walls of the place, which is owned by a former SEAL, Greg McPartlin.


I asked the bartender, who wouldn't give me his name, if SEALs ever boast at the bar about what they do.


No, he said.


Even after a few beers?




If they ever say anything about what they do, he said, it's “only under their breaths, to each other.”



Reprinted with permission.



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ABC World News Persons of the Week: U.S. Navy SEALs


Special Ops Force's Rigorous Training Paid Off in Rescue of Capt. Richard



April 17, 2009


For the U.S. Navy's special operations force, rescuing the American captain of

the Maersk Alabama from the grips of armed pirates off the coast of Somalia is

part of the daring job description.


"This week's operation off the Somali coast was one operation," said Capt.

Duncan Smith, SEAL spokesman. "There are other operations going on around the

globe constantly."


U.S. Navy SEALs, "a special breed of warrior ready to answer our nation's

call," so says their creed, are trained to carry out covert missions across

sea, air and land.


"What sets SEALs apart is our diversity in terms of the environments in which

we operate," said Smith, an active duty SEAL for 24 years. "We operate at

10,000 feet in the Hindu Kush Mountains. We operate in desert regions in Iraq

and elsewhere. We operate in jungles throughout the world. But we are also

able to operate very effectively in maritime environment."


Adept at sea, a team of U.S. Navy SEALs parachuted out of a C-17 cargo plane

into the Indian Ocean last Friday night -- with all their gear and the

inflatable boats needed to get to the U.S.S. Bainbridge and, if necessary, to

launch a stealth rescue of Capt. Richard Phillips, who was being held hostage.


The Navy was towing the lifeboat carrying Phillips and three Somali pirates,

slowing reeling it closer. The SEAL snipers positioned themselves on deck of

the U.S.S. Bainbridge. At dusk, the three snipers determined that they had

their shot and they took it -- instantly killing all three pirates.


"My reaction when I heard what went down in Somalia was one of knowing that

hours and years that these men spent preparing for that one moment that is so

critical was time well spent," said Smith.


Most SEALS go through a grueling training for three years before their first



SEALs Put 'Service Above Self'


"You have to be able to endure a lot of physical pain and sometimes emotional

pain and you just have to dig deep. It's an elite organization and so it can't

be for everybody," said Paul Tharp, master chief of the Naval Special Warfare

Preparatory School and SEAL for 24 years.


Once through basic training, SEAL recruits enter an intensive six-month

training program that starts with the appropriately named "**** Week."


"**** Week is a five-day-long continuous training evolution," said Lt. Michael

Loureiro, SEAL instructor. "They get about four to six hours sleep throughout

the whole week. It's a test of their mental fortitude and their ability to

endure uncomfortable circumstances and duress and how they handle that



Only a third of the recruits who begin the training ultimately become SEALs.


There are 2,500 active duty SEALs. With the expanding war on terror and

missions in 30 countries, the Navy needs more, 500 more. But, finding young

men who can meet the SEALs' standards is a challenge.


"We are not looking for cocky kids," said Senior Chief Hans Garcia, SEAL

recruiter. "The perfect person would be a candidate who is remarkably

physically fit, but is pretty humble, an analytical thinker, a problem

solver -- someone who is very value-oriented, patriotic, puts service above



Endurance, determination, and above all, humility, are key because SEALs'

brave work normally goes unnoticed.


"A lot of those missions -- a majority of those missions -- are ones that the

public will never know about... and that's a good thing," Smith said.


Copyright C 2009 ABC News Internet Ventures



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Story and Video:



(CBS)  "**** Week" for soldiers training to be Navy SEALs is five days and nights of the most grueling military training ever devised.


CBS News correspondent Kimberly Dozier reports SEALs specialize in high-risk operations, like Sunday's daring rescue of cargo ship captain Richard Phillips from Somali pirates. Whenever an American is taken hostage, the SEALs immediately start planning for action.


But the training's so tough the SEAL command had been falling behind, failing to produce enough new SEALs.


They've been ordered to grow from roughly 1,800 now to 2,500 by the year 2012.


Explains Navy SEAL Lt. Rorke Denver, "Since, you know, post-9/11 operations kicked off, the amount of successful operations has just been staggering. So I think everybody looked at that and said, 'Wow, we need more of these guys.'"


Only 20 to 30 percent of men are expected to make it through SEAL training. Commanders want to raise that pass rate to 50 percent -- but without lowering standards. So they're targeting new candidates who may not have even considered a career in the military.


They're looking at young athletes who excel in sports requiring endurance and discipline, like rugby, wrestling, swimming and water polo.


Terry Schroeder coaches the U.S. Olympic water polo team. He's helping get the word out to top high school swimmers that the Navy SEALs are looking for young men like them.


"I think there's a lot in common," Schroeder says. "We learn to battle, we learn to work hard."


Swimmer Jonathan Imbert has signed up. "It's putting yourself on a team with maybe 10, 11 people and doing what an entire army might have to go and do," Imbert says.


Imbert's next stop is a new two-month Olympic-style pre-SEAL training program: from workouts, to sports visualization, to a psychological screening test.


Recent **** Week inductees did the pre-training before they arrived, and something's working. Out of a 111 who started, 75 survived **** Week -- one of the largest classes ever to make it through.



©2009 CBS Interactive Inc. All rights reserved.



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After Brief Countdown, SEALs Fired In Synchrony


By Ann Scott Tyson

Washington Post Staff Writer

Tuesday, April 14, 2009; A10



Before a highly trained team of Navy SEAL snipers opens fire on multiple targets, one of their team members takes a deep breath and begins a countdown.



"Standby. Three, two, one . . . ," goes a standard order.



"There is a countdown, a tempo. It gets everyone on the same sheet, and they release their shot at the same time," said Scott Tyler, who led a SEAL sniper cell in Iraq and now works as a contractor protecting ships from piracy.



"You don't want to drop one guy and have two others with weapons who can start shooting, especially when there is a hostage involved," Tyler said.



In this way, with deadly accuracy, three SEAL snipers fired their rifles in synchrony on Sunday, instantly killing the three pirates who held a ship's captain, American Richard Phillips, at gunpoint, according to military officials and experts familiar with SEAL sniper operations.



The snipers' pinpoint accuracy -- firing from one moving ship onto the bobbing lifeboat after a split-second decision -- was perhaps the main factor in keeping Phillips, 53, alive, giving President Obama a successful resolution to one of his first international crises.



"It's extremely difficult" to execute such a mission, said one 23-year member of the Navy SEALs who was a sniper and a sniper instructor.



Becoming a Navy SEAL sniper requires at least five years of experience on a SEAL team. SEALs must pass a marksmanship test, undergo psychological testing and compete for the positions.



"It takes a person of great patience and mental tenacity. . . . The ones who have proven themselves get to go" to sniper training, said Cmdr. Greg Geisen, a spokesman for Naval Special Warfare Command in Coronado, Calif.



Only after many months of honing skills in shooting and surveillance do the SEALs take the job of sniper on teams, the officials and experts said. They train to hit two-inch targets from long distances. "Aim small, miss small" is the philosophy, said the former SEAL instructor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of his current work.



"We pay a lot for their training and . . . we earned, got a good return on their investment tonight," Vice Adm. William E. Gortney, commander of U.S. naval forces in the Middle East, said after the rescue.



As the threat to Phillips grew imminent on Sunday, Cmdr. Frank Castellano of the USS Bainbridge ordered the rescue action. Then, a tactical SEAL commander on the scene who was observing the targets through binoculars or a spotting scope probably called out the countdown to coordinate the sniper fire, experts and officials said.



The SEALs, probably using MK11 sniper rifles, had to disable the pirates simultaneously to make sure none of them was able to fire back. To achieve this, the three snipers each had to have a pirate in the rifle cross hairs at the same moment.



"They didn't have a huge window of opportunity," Tyler said. "SEALs are very intelligent, very capable of making decisions."





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Commentary: Where Heroes Come From



By Bob Greene

CNN Contributor


Editor's note: CNN Contributor Bob Greene is a bestselling author whose forthcoming book is "Late Edition: A Love Story."



Bob Greene says Navy SEALs demonstrate an extraordinary devotion to duty.


(CNN) -- There is a beach in Coronado, California, just across the bridge from San Diego. It offers a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean, which is why it attracts tourists who are drawn to the sun.


I thought about that beach yesterday, when the news from the Indian Ocean near the Horn of Africa was flashed around the world -- the news that the captain of the cargo ship Maersk Alabama had been rescued from Somali pirates by U.S. forces operating off the USS Bainbridge.


That beach in California seems quite placid, even sedate. The historic, red-gabled Hotel del Coronado sits upon it -- the place where the Marilyn Monroe-Jack Lemmon-Tony Curtis movie "Some Like It Hot" was filmed. The feeling of the place is one of genteel manners, of delicate tradition. You almost expect to see guests carrying parasols and making reservations to play croquet.


But down the beach there is another kind of tradition. That's what I was thinking about on Sunday.


When I have stayed on Coronado, I walk down that beach toward the Naval Amphibious Base. I remember a makeshift fence separating the beach from the far reaches of the base. But it was easy to walk around, and no one appeared to take it especially seriously. I haven't been back since September 11, 2001; I would be very surprised if the barriers aren't more formidable now.


On that part of the beach, on the outskirts of Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, I saw Navy SEALs in training. Here, the Navy winnows the men who would be SEALs from the ones who fall short. It was a humbling thing to witness.


As the Navy itself puts it, SEAL training is like few other competitions:


"Prospective SEALs go through what is considered by many military experts to be the toughest training in the world. ... The most important trait that distinguishes Navy SEALs from all other military forces is that SEALs are Maritime Special Forces, as they strike from and return to the sea. SEALs (Sea, Air, Land) take their name from the elements in and from which they operate. Their stealth and clandestine methods of operation allow them to conduct multiple missions against targets that larger forces cannot approach undetected."


They looked so young, those prospective SEALs on Coronado beach. The maximum age to apply to be a SEAL is 28. They all know what they're getting into when they sign up, but to see their faces -- including the faces of the ones who were falling behind, who probably weren't going to make the cut, who were gasping for air on the arduous runs along the beach and having trouble during the maneuvers in the ocean -- was to see a devotion to the concept of duty on a level few of the rest of us will ever know.


Maybe you, during the recent days when Capt. Richard Phillips was held captive on that lifeboat off the coast of Africa, were asking yourself who in the world could come to his rescue. Who had the training, and the courage, to carry out such a mission.


We probably don't ask ourselves that kind of question often enough. Usually, military operations are talked about in the abstract, as if they're lines on a chalkboard, or brightly glowing diagrams on a computer screen.


But once in a while, like now, we stop to focus on what we ask of the people who serve in our stead when the task seems all but impossible. Ronald Reagan would sometimes quote a line that summed up our wonder at those who make the choice to serve our country in this way: "Where do we find such men?"


We find them among us, although we usually don't know it when we see it. On Coronado, on Orange Avenue, there was a bar called McP's, owned by an ex-SEAL named Greg McPartlin. Whenever I would stop in there, groups of guys from the naval base would be having a cheeseburger, maybe listening to a local acoustic band play a guitars-only version of The Beatles' "We Can Work It Out." You'd sit among them, and it was easy to forget what brought them to this strip of sand. It wasn't for vacation, or relaxation. Where do we find such men? Sometimes at the next table over, listening to the music.


From the Navy SEALs' creed:


"My loyalty to country and team is beyond reproach. I humbly serve as a guardian to my fellow Americans, always ready to defend those who are unable to defend themselves. I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions. I voluntarily accept the inherent hazards of my profession, placing the welfare and security of others before my own. I serve with honor on and off the battlefield. The ability to control my emotions and my actions, regardless of circumstance, sets me apart from other men. ... In the absence of orders I will take charge, lead my teammates and accomplish the mission. ... I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity. My nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and to accomplish our mission. I am never out of the fight."


Where do we find such men?


Over the weekend, we learned the answer anew.


The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Bob Greene.



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Obama Praises U.S. Military Rescue of Maersk-Alabama Captain



By John J. Kruzel

American Forces Press Service




Capt. Richard Phillips, right, master of the cargo ship Maersk-Alabama, who had been captured by pirates, stands alongside U.S. Navy Cmdr. Frank Castellano, commanding officer of USS Bainbridge after being rescued by U.S Naval Forces off the coast of Somalia. Philips was held hostage for four days by the pirates. U.S. Navy photo 



WASHINGTON, April 12, 2009 - President Barack Obama praised the U.S. military's rescue of the kidnapped captain of the Maersk-Alabama cargo ship on the waters off the coast of Somalia today.



U.S. naval forces freed Capt. Richard Phillips five days after Somali pirates took him hostage.


"I am very pleased that Captain Phillips has been rescued and is safely on board the USS Boxer," Obama said in a White House statement. "His safety has been our principal concern, and I know this is a welcome relief to his family and his crew.


"I am also very proud of the efforts of the US military and many other departments and agencies who worked tirelessly to secure Captain Phillips' safe recovery," he said. "I share the country's admiration for the bravery of captain Phillips and his selfless concern for his crew. His courage is a model for all Americans."


Navy Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, comended those involved in the rescue.


"This was an incredible team effort, and I am extremely proud of the tireless efforts of all the men and women who made this rescue possible," Gortney said in a U.S. Navy release. Gortney said Phillips' actions, and those of the Maersk-Alabama crew, were heroic.


"They fought back to regain control of their ship, and Captain Phillips selflessly put his life in the hands of these armed criminals in order to protect his crew," he said.


Following the rescue, Phillips was taken aboard the USS Bainbridge before being flown to the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer, where he contacted his family, received a routine medical evaluation, and is resting comfortably, according to a U.S. Navy statement.


Three pirates were killed during the rescue operation, and U.S. military forces have one pirate in custody, the statement said.

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CORONADO, Calif. - Members of the USA Swimming national team experienced a taste of Navy SEAL training Wednesday at the Naval Special Warfare Center at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado as part of a new outreach effort to attract high-caliber athletes to Navy Special Warfare careers.




The visiting swimmers included Olympic medalists Aaron Piersol, Peter Vanderkaay, Katie Hoff, Margaret Hoelzer and 14-time gold medal winner Michael Phelps. All spent the day working with Navy SEAL instructors in a scaled-down, yet grueling day in the life of Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) trainees.




The swimmers were invited to the Naval Special Warfare Center as part of a growing relationship with the USA Swimming and other national athletic organizations, which is helping to foster awareness of Naval Special Warfare career fields among young athletes.




Capt. Adam Curtis, Director of Naval Special Warfare Recruiting said, "It is important to reach out to these role models for younger athletes. Their experience with our programs enhances awareness and visibility of our programs to young people who might consider military service."




Mark Schubert, USA Swimming national team head coach said "We felt it would be a great opportunity for our athletes to work on teamwork and self confidence. I think swimmers tend to look up to Navy SEALs and the type of work they do."




Arriving just after dawn, the team received briefings and donned trainees' camouflage uniforms before meeting with instructors, filling their canteens and heading out to begin their day at BUD/S. They were led through a rigorous Physical Training session, the BUD/S obstacle course, and "surf passage," where they paddled inflatable boats back and forth through 4 to 5-foot surf. The rough seas tossed athletes from their boats, over and over, giving the athletes a chance to test their impressive swimming abilities in the open ocean.




Multiple world record holder Phelps said, "You saw everybody working together...motivating each other, supporting each other, and that's what it takes. I think that is something that will help us over the next year, or however long our career is...You can apply it to anything."




The day wrapped up with MREs, or "Meals Ready-to-Eat," a discussion with Navy SEAL and Ultra Marathon runner David Goggins, and time to reflect and talk to the instructors about both the training and life as a Navy SEAL.






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By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (PJ) Michelle Kapica, Naval Special Warfare Public Affairs



PHOENIX (NNS) -- More than 330 athletes took the opportunity to see how they stacked against America's elite, special operations warriors at the first SEAL Fitness Challenge of 2009, held at Arizona State University in Phoenix, March 14.


Men and women ages 13 and up tested themselves against the tough, physical fitness standards of Naval Special Warfare operators, including Navy SEALs, Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen (SWCC), explosive ordnance disposal technicians and Navy divers. The focus of the free event, hosted by Navy Recruiting Command in association with the Navy SEAL & SWCC Scout Team, was to challenge athletes to maximize their performance in individual tests of strength and endurance.


Participants competed in five events starting with a 500-yard swim, immediately followed by push ups, sit ups, pull ups and a 1.5 mile run. All competitors were scored and ranked against each other. Participants received a free white commemorative T-shirt, while athletes who met the minimum SEAL standards received a tan T-shirt for their efforts. To be competitive, athletes worked toward a goal of under 10 minutes for the swim, 80 push ups, 80 sit ups, six pull ups and a swim time of under 11 minutes - and some competitors did just that - earning a highly-coveted blue T-shirt.


"It's all about pushing yourself," said Capt. Adam Curtis, Director of Naval Special Warfare Recruiting. "As SEALs, we're all about pushing ourselves every day. This event gives us the chance to give people a taste of what the SEALs are all about - that's what makes it a fun and challenging event."


In addition to testing their physical fitness, participants were able to speak to SEALs and SWCC to find out what life is really like as an operator.


"I got to learn more about how hard the Navy SEALs work and what they do for our country," said Rebecca Cady, a student of Central Arizona College. Cady is in the delayed entry program and is scheduled to enlist in the Navy in March. "The guys helped motivate me a lot."


SEAL and SWCC Scouts gave athletes a sample of military training with some loud, verbal encouragement throughout the day.


"Phoenix is a very fit city," said Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Darek Laviolette, a SEAL Scout, nicknamed "Chief Pain." Laviolette said he was impressed with everyone's enthusiasm and never-quit attitude.


"They're really stepping up to the plate. They are pushing themselves - which is all you can ask," Laviolette said.


Members of the Olympic swim and water polo teams came out to support the event, including Lacey Nymeyer, who won silver in the 400-meter relay in Bejing and three-time medalist, swimmer, Matt Grevers.


"This humanizes the SEALs for me," said Grevers. "It's less intimidating knowing that they're just cool, normal guys - even though they're still serious warriors."


The SEAL Fitness Challenge has inspired many participants to improve their fitness, including 14-year-old Manhattan Beach resident, Laura Hagedorn who competed in last year's Los Angeles event. Pull ups was the hardest event for her, so she asked for a pull-up bar for her birthday. Less than a year later, Hogedorn came back for more fun and to show off the fruits of her labor.


"Last year I had to have assistance," said Hagedorn. "Now I can do nine pull ups!"


The oldest competitor was 74-year-old Dominick Aiello. Aiello lost a leg to cancer, but still found the strength to compete. Aiello has been competing in the Senior Olympics for the past 11 years and loves the positive atmosphere of the SEAL Fitness Challenge, he said.


"It was plenty of fun," said Aiello. "Everyone was so accommodating."


Swimming using the side stroke was the hardest part for Aiello, who is a former life guard.


"Once I did a couple of laps it came back," he said. "I finished!"


As a special treat for athletes, the U.S. Navy Parachute Team, the Leap Frogs, gave a freefall-parachuting demonstration that got the crowd cheering. The team also attended the event to share their Navy experiences with athletes and spectators.


Three more SEAL Fitness Challenges are scheduled across the U.S. this year. The next event is slated May 9 in Dallas. For more information, visit:



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Team USA Swimming members to attend, compete in Navy SEAL Fitness Challenge-Atlanta

Grevers, Nymeyer (PHOTO: USOC)





Matt Grevers, 2008 Olympic gold and silver medalist and Lacey Nymeyer, 2008 silver medalist and world record holder, will participate in the next Navy SEAL Fitness Challenge event at Arizona State University in Tempe, Ariz. March 14.



The Navy SEAL Fitness Challenge is a FREE atlhletic event which consists of a 500-yard swim, push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups and 1.5-mile run. The Fitness Challenge is an athletic competition with the goal of promoting physical fitness and increasing awareness of Navy SEALs and Navy Special Warfare/Special Operations communities. The Fitness Challenge is identical in nature to the Navy SEAL Physical Screening Test; the test SEAL candidates must pass in order to get into the rigorous training program. Men and women ages 13 and up will have the unique opportunity of testing their personal fitness levels against members of the elite Navy SEAL teams.



Grevers and Nymeyer will put themselves to the test along with the growing hundreds of Phoenix-area residents who have already pre-registered on the event website. The teammates will also be available to chat with fans and will help hand out awards to the best-performing participants.



The Navy SEAL Fitness Challenge kicked off in Boston in 2007 and continued in 2008 in San Antonio, Tx., Los Angeles, Calif., Dearborn, Mich., Chicago, Ill. and Atlanta, Ga. The Navy SEAL Fitness Challenge event will take place on Saturday, Mar. 14 at the Student Recreation Complex at ASU. To learn more about the event, get directions and to pre-register please visit: Registration is free.



For more information on USA Swimming, visit: For information on Navy SEAL careers, visit or More information about the Navy Parachute Team can be found at:



Media contact: Lt. Fernando Rivero, Public Affairs Officer, Navy SEAL & SWCC Scout Team: or (619) 437-3890.






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Jensen Takes First Step to Become Navy SEAL

By: Bob Schaller, Swim Network


Posted: January 30, 2009


Larsen Jensen cautions that he's not there yet - though he admits his next great adventure could be the one thing in the world to make the Olympics pale in comparison.


Jensen, who won a silver medal at the Athens Games in the 1500m and was fifth in the same event at the 2008 Beijing Games, received notice Friday just before lunch that he has been accepted into the program to try to become a Navy SEAL after attending Officer Candidate School to become a commissioned officer.


"I'm only at this point accepted into the program and I'm awaiting orders," Jensen said. "There's a 75-percent attrition rate - so by no means am I saying right now that ‘I'm a Navy SEAL.' That's the goal and I will give it all I've got. But right now, you could say the swimming equivalent is that I'm just trying to qualifying to get into the prelims. I'm nowhere near making semifinals, finals or medaling."



Jensen got the news that he has been selected for the program from his recruiter Friday. He has not yet been sworn in and has no timeline as yet for when he is to report for Officer Candidate School, which is the counterpart to the Basic Military Training enlisted men and women go through when they join the military.


"It's going to be a tremendous task. I'm confident. Over the coming months I will prepare myself appropriately," Jensen said. "I have been interested in it for quite some time. It's something that's been in the forefront of my mind for a while now."


This isn't a decision that Jensen made impulsively. He talked to enlisted members and officers in the Navy SEALs, officials at the Pentagon and others. He's still representing his country, but is trading his suit, goggles, and swim cap for a helmet, combat boots, and rifle.


"I've been blessed enough to represent my country in the Olympic Games - it's an honor," Jensen said. "But I also feel a tremendous sense of patriotism. It's time to for me to give back and fight for those who can't fight for themselves. It's time for me to do this for my country."



Jensen has always thrived on challenges, competing domestically against the likes of Erik Vendt for spots on National Teams. Jensen took on the great ones internationally, like Grant Hackett, in the Olympics. A long row to hoe? Give Jensen a shot at it.


"I don't think anyone really enjoys it when things are difficult, but I find it more rewarding when it's tough," Jensen said. "The best things in life only come with real sacrifice, both in sports and outside of sport."


While athletes such as Jensen are considered role models, he's hoping this new goal - to serve in the U.S. Military - is one young people emulate.


"In the back of my mind, me doing is a hope of mine that other people will follow my lead - for lack of a better term - and realize we live in the best country in the world," Jensen said. "We're all guilty of oversights and not appreciating the great freedoms we have and enjoy in the United States. It's easy to complain - but we don't appreciate that we have that freedom to complain."


http://President of the United States, George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush congratulate Larsen Jensen of the United States at the National Aquatics Center during day 2 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 10, 2008 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)


Jensen, who bleeds red, white and blue, says he felt compelled after 9-11 to join the military. So after he achieved his goals of winning Olympic medals and NCAA championships on the way to graduating from the University of Southern California, he contacted a Navy recruiter to help him realize this long-time dream.


"Some people have different talents, but it all comes down to in this country, ‘How badly do you want?'" Jensen said. "We have more endless stories of people accomplishing great things. A great example is Lance Armstrong, coming back from his death bed to become the best athlete in the world. The Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger, emigrated to U.S. without even $10 in his pocket, and goes on to be in movies, earn millions of dollars, and then become a governor. It's a blessing to grow up in the country."


While swimming has given him a good athletic foundation, Jensen said he's not kidding himself: The challenge in front of him is far greater than just substantial - it will take all he's got, from his swimming ability to his head and his heart.


"I think swimming will help me, but only to an extent," Jensen said. "At the same time, I'll be doing a lot of running and a lot of other physical challenges that will push me like never before. Should I be fortunate enough to make it through the program and into combat - I feel funny even saying that because I'm still a civilian right now and I don't want to disrespect those who are Navy SEALs - I'll just keep trying to better myself."


Is he nervous?


"I'm as comfortable as a guy can be," Jensen said, "knowing it's going to be a kick to the groin every single day. And I can't wait to get started.”

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