This Saturday, on Christmas Day, the first commanding officer of U.S. Navy Seal Team 6 Richard “Dick” Marcinko passed away at 81.
Marcinko’s son, Matt Marcinko, announced the death earlier on Sunday via Twitter. He posted several photos of Richard Marcinko and his family.
“Last night, Christmas evening, we lost a hero, who’s also known as The Rogue Warrior, the retired Navy SEAL commander AND the creator of SEAL Team Six, my father, Richard Marcinko,” Matt wrote. “His legacy will live forever. The man has died a true legend. Rest In Peace Dad. I love you forever.”
Following up his post, Matt then shared a sweet video from the family’s Christmas celebration that would be one of his last memories from his father. Matt did not reveal a cause of death or plans for a funeral.
The National Navy UDT Seal Museum also posted a tribute to Richard Marcinko on their Facebook page. The Museum shared a lengthy post detailing his military history and the impact he had on generations of soldiers.
“Dick Marcinko played a very unique part in SEAL history, leaving a legacy like no other. ‘Demo Dick’ is considered the United States’ premier counterterrorism operator. We send our deepest sympathies to his family, teammates, and friends,” the Museum concluded in their post.
Looking Back at ‘Rogue Warrior’ Richard Marcinko’s Impressive Military History
Born in Lansford, Pennsylvania on Nov. 21, 1940, Richard Marcinko was initially rejected from the U.S. Marines because he didn’t have a high school diploma. In 1958, he tried enlisting again, this time in the Navy. They accepted him and allowed him to work his way up the ranks until he reached commander.
Eventually, Marcinko would earn a bachelor’s degree in international relations from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. He also received his master’s in political science at Auburn University at Montgomery.
In January 1967, Richard Marcinko deployed to Vietnam in SEAL Team 2. There, he participated in what the Navy has described as its most successful Vietnam war SEAL operation, per Fox News. The attack on Ilo Ilo Hon took place on May 18, 1967.
Marcinko deployed to Vietnam a second time and participated in the Tet Offensive then. Per Fox News, the North Vietnamese even placed a bounty on his head at one point due to his leadership abilities. They never caught him, though, and Marcinko even earned the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry at one point.
His other awards include four Bronze Stars, the Silver Star, and the Legion of Merit. In total, he earned 34 medals and citations from the U.S. military.
In the late 1970s, the government asked Richard Marcinko to help form an “elite counterterrorism team” that would later become SEAL Team 6. The name was a ploy, however, to convince the Soviet Union that the United States had six SEAL teams, when in fact they only had two. Marcinko also helped form the RED CELL, serving as the first commanding officer for both that and SEAL Team 6.
From August 1980 to July 1983, Marcinko commanded SEAL Team 6. After his time in the military, Richard Marcinko then went on to write several books, including a New York Times bestseller. The autobiography, titled “Rogue Warrior,” detailed his different expeditions for the Navy SEALS. The 1993 bestseller also inspired 16 other spin-off novels.