The Navy SEALs turned 50 this year, and the Navy’s elite – both active and retired – gathered at Joint Expeditionary Base (JEB) Little Creek-Fort Story to mark this important milestone on January 27, Friday.
There were 150 SEALs who came together for the celebration, where they paid homage to the history of the Navy SEALs. Retired Capt. Rick Woolard told the story of the SEALs’ beginnings, with the establishment of SEAL Team 1 in California and SEAL Team 2 at Little Creek in January 1962 – with only a few dozen hand-picked Sailors, and a shoestring budget.
Woolard shared: “The page was blank… Now SEALs are respected and known as one of the most effective fighting forces ever. But SEAL history was not predestined, it was made. It was made in Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and a hundred other garden spots on operations that most people will never hear about.”
Woolard credited the original members of the SEALs with the way the elite team has turned out, mainly due to their commitment and the legacy that they left to their successors.
Among those who were present during the celebration were a dozen “plankowners” – the original members of SEAL Team 1 and 2, most of whom are now in their 70s. This includes Master Chief Petty Officer Rudy Boesch of Virginia Beach, who addressed the crowd at the SEAL Heritage Center.
While the former SEALs reminisced about their active-duty days and the camaraderie they shared with their fellow SEALs, the younger SEALs reveled at the opportunity to meet their predecessors.