Vietnam War Bibliography:

Navy SEALs and UDTs

Mickey Block and William Kimball, Before the Dawn. Canton, OH: Daring Books. Paperback New York: Pocket Books, 1989. Both the front and back covers of the paperback say that Block was a Navy SEAL, but he was never in fact a SEAL, nor does the text of the book really claim he was. He was in Special Boat Unit 524, a PBR unit based at Sa Dec, 1968 to 1969.

Roy Boehm, with Charles Sasser, First SEAL. New York: Pocket Books, 1997. xii, 308 pp. Boehm was the first commander of SEAL Team Two when it was founded in 1962. His first tour in Vietnam, training an LDNN unit and then leading it on missions in the Mekong Delta, began at the end of 1963. David Del Giudice (see below) charges that this book is seriously inaccurate.

T.J. Bosiljevac, SEALs: UDT/SEAL Operations in Vietnam. Boulder, Colorado: Paladin Press, 1990. xiii, 256 pp. pb New York: Ivy Books (Ballantine), 1991. xiii, 272 pp.

Captain Phil H. Bucklew, Oral History. U.S. Naval Institute, 1982. 451 pp.

Kenneth Conboy and James Morrison, "SEALs on the Trail," Naval History 14:5 (October 2000).

Harry Constance, with Randall Fuerst, Good to Go: The Life and Times of a Decorated Member of the U.S. Navy's Elite SEAL Team Two. New York: Morrow, 1997. xi, 351 pp. pb New York: Avon, 1998. xii, 413 pp. Constance did three tours in Vietnam as a SEAL, beginning approximately October 1967. Second tour beginning probably February 1969, based at Soc Trang, working with PRU. Third tour, beginning probably March 1970, based at Can Tho (this was also Thomas Keith's third tour; see below). Looks a bit fictionalized, in places. I find the description of rules of engagement for the third tour (paperback, pp. 311-12) difficult to believe. The story of Father Hoa as a province chief (p. 313) is also pretty weird. Finally, he describes a conversation with another SEAL, during his third tour, about Jane Fonda's visit to Hanoi. His third tour was in 1970, or at latest, 1970-71; Fonda's visit to Hanoi was in 1972.

Dennis Cummings, The Men Behind the Trident: SEAL Team One in Vietnam. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1997. xvi, 270 pp. Oral history.

Captain David Del Giudice, "setting the Record Straight," U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 137:2 (February 2011), pp. 60-64. Describes the process by which the SEALs were established; charges that Roy Boehm (see above) is very inaccurate about this process.

Kevin Dockery, Free Fire Zones: The True Story of U.S. Navy SEAL Combat in Vietnam.  New York: HarperTorch (HarperCollins), 2000.  viii, 241 pp.

Kevin Dockery and Bill Fawcett, eds., The Teams: An Oral History of the U.S. Navy Seals. New York: Morrow, 1998. xiv, 283 pp. pb New York: Avon, 1999. xiv, 289 pp. Only a moderate amount of Vietnam material. Accounts by six SEALs, of whom James Tipton went to Vietnam late in 1967; Georg Doran went in late 1962 to train the Biet Hai at Danang, and in 1970 to run the LDNN school; Jack Rowell went late in 1967 and again in late 1968; James Janos a.k.a. Governor Jesse "The Body" Ventura apparently had some Vietnam experience in a UDT but does not describe it.

Kevin Dockery, Navy SEALs: A History, Part II, The Vietnam Years. New York: Berkley, 2002. x, 339 pp. From interviews by Bud Brutsman.

Kevin Dockery, Operation Thunderhead: The True Story of Vietnam's Final POW Rescue Mission--and the Last Navy SEAL Killed in Country. New York: Berkley Caliber, 2008. viii, 294 pp. Mostly deals with the persistent efforts of John Dramesi to escape captivity in North Vietnam. In June 1972, Lt. Melvin Dry was killed during an effort to position Navy SEALs to assist in one of Dramesi's escape plans.

Barry W. Enoch, with Gregory A. Walker, foreword by Bob Kerrey, Teammates: SEALs at War. New York: Pocket Books, 1996. xvii, 318 pp. Enoch joined the Navy in 1955, became a founding member of SEAL Team One, was sent to Vietnam for his first tour in March 1963, and sent to Danang to assist covert maritime operations against North Vietnam. He had repeated later tours to the end of the war; retired a Chief Gunner's Mate.

Bill Fawcett, ed., Hunters and Shooters: An Oral History of the U.S. Navy SEALs in Vietnam. New York: Morrow, 1995.

Robert A. Gormly, Combat Swimmer: Memoirs of a Navy SEAL. New York: NAL/Dutton, 1998. pb New York: Onyx, 1999. x, 310 pp. Index. Less than half (pp. 47-180 in the paperback) deals with Vietnam. Gormly, an officer in SEAL Team 2, served two tours in the Mekong Delta, from the Long Tuan Secret Zone near the mouth of the Bassac, to Nui Coto in the Seven Mountains of Chau Doc. Arrived January 1967 as squad leader, had to leave when wounded in early June. Returned for second tour May 1968, left in November. Those who are interested in the SEALs outside the context of Vietnam may also want to read about Gormly's relationship with Dick Marcinko (whom he replaced as commander of SEAL Team 6 in 1983), in Gormly's participation in the Grenada operation later in 1983, etc.

Navy Captain William H. Hamilton Jr. and Charles W. Sasser, Night Fighter: An Insider's Story of Special Ops from Korea to SEAL Team 6. New York: Arcade, 2016. xii, 330 pp. Hamilton had significant roles in creating the SEALs and forming policies for their use, but was not himself a member. He continued to be involved with them, especially their role in Vietnam, after transferring from the Navy to the CIA in November 1962.

Ivy Harper, Waltzing Matilda: The Life and Times of Nebraska Senator Robert Kerrey. New York: St. Martin's, 1992. xxi, 263 pp. J. [Joseph] Robert Kerrey won the Congressional Medal of Honor during his brief service as a SEAL officer in Vietnam (see under Kerrey, below). He served as Governor of Nebraska 1983-87, and was elected to the US Senate in 1988.

Joel M. Hutchins, Swimmers among the Trees: SEALs in the Vietnam War. Novato, CA: Presidio, 1996. The dust jacket says Hutchins is a former SEAL, but this is not true. The book contains many detailed descriptions of operations for which the sources are unexplained--Hutchins, who had never been a SEAL, had not participated in them, does not mention any names of participants, does not say he has interviewed participants, and does not cite documents or written sources.

Thomas H. Keith and J. Terry Riebling, SEAL Warrior: Death in the Dark: Vietnam 1968-1972. New York: Thomas Dunne Books (St. Martin's), 2009. xvii, 292 pp. Keith joined 10th Platoon, SEAL Team 2, in January 1968. After training, the platoon was sent for a tour, roughly March to September 1968, based at My Tho. After this tour Keith transferred to 3d Platoon, with which he did a 1969-70 tour based at Nha Be, operating in the Rung Sat. Transferred to 8th Platoon, with which he did a tour in Ca Mau. Some names have been changed, and the chronology is very vague. It is hard to figure out from this book when his third tour was. This was also Harry Constance's third tour (see above), and the impression given by Constance's book is that the tour began in March 1970, but the table of tours in Bosiljevac (pb), p. 218, says that 8th Platoon's tour was August 1970 to February 1971.

Bob Kerrey (J[oseph] Robert Kerrey), When I Was a Young Man. New York: Harcourt, 2002. xi, 270 pp. (relatively large print, not a lot of words per page). Kerrey chose in 1966 to join the Navy rather than wait to be drafted into the Army. Although the future senator won the Congressional Medal of Honor in Vietnam, his time in-country had been brief (January to March 1969), and it occupies a rather small part of this book. Pages 111-157 cover the period of his military training--OCS, UDT, and SEAL. Pages 159-179 describe his early weeks in Vietnam, during which he led his SEAL squad on several night ambushes that did not make enemy contact, and give some thoughts about the nature of the war. He devotes only ten pages (pp. 179-189) to the two incidents in which he saw actual combat. In the first, on February 25, 1969, his squad went into the village of Thanh Phong, in what he calls Thanh Phu province (Thanh Phu was in fact one district in Kien Hoa province). The SEALs were looking for some high-level Viet Cong cadres who had been reported to be in the village. In a confused incident that long afterward aroused controversy (see book by Vistica below), the SEAL squad killed a number of women and children. It was the second incident, on March 14, 1969, that won Kerrey his Medal of Honor. He was severely wounded leading his squad in an attack on a Communist sapper unit, on an island very close to Nha Trang.

Greg McPartlin, Combat Corpsman: The Vietnam Memoir of a Navy SEALs Medic. New York: Berkley Caliber (Penguin), 2005. 319 pp. McPartlin joined the Navy in order to become a corpsman assigned to the Marines. He arrived in Vietnam at the beginning of 1968, assigned to Third Force Recon. After three months, his platoon had suffered such heavy losses it was rotated out of Vietnam. He then shifted to become a medic with the SEALs. He went to Vietnam late in 1969 and was assigned to Old Nam Can, in the Ca Mau Peninsula.

Richard Marcinko with John Weisman, Rogue Warrior. New York: Pocket Books, 1992. Parts of this book cover Marcinko's service as a SEAL officer in the Mekong Delta (roughly the first halves of 1967 and 1968) and as US Naval Attache in Phnom Penh, 1973-74, working to keep the Mekong River open.

Rad Miller, Jr., Whattaya Mean I Can't Kill 'Em? A Navy SEAL in Vietnam. New York: Ivy, 1998. 245 pp. Miller served very briefly off the coast of Vietnam aboard a DER involved in MARKET TIME in 1966. He began a Vietnam tour in mid 1967, with UDT 11. Finally he served a tour as a SEAL assigned to Echo Platoon of Team 1, mostly in the Mekong Delta, beginning in February 1969. Note: Miller has also published a volume of fiction about the SEALs, SEAL Stories.

Gary R. Smith & Alan Maki, Death in the Jungle: Diary of a Navy SEAL. Boulder: Paladin, 1994. pb New York: Ivy, 1996, 321 pp. Smith completed UDT training and joined UDT-12 in December 1965; he served 32 months in Vietnam.

Gary R. Smith & Alan Maki, Death in the Delta: Diary of a Navy SEAL. pb New York: Ivy, 1996, 321 pp. Sequel to the above; covers Smith's third and fourth tours in Vietnam, 1969-1970, including work with PRU and LDNN.

Gary R. Smith, Master Chief: Diary of a Navy SEAL. pb New York: Ivy, 1996, 308 pp. Sequel to the above; covers Smith's fifth tour (1971) in Vietnam, with November Platoon, SEAL Team 1, in Dinh Tuong province, and his post-war career.

Gregory L. Vistica, The Education of Lieutenant Kerrey. New York: St. Martin's/Thomas Dunne Books, 2003. xix, 296 pp. I have not yet actually read this book, but my impression is that it is much more serious than Bob Kerrey's memoir (see above) about trying to get to the truth of the Thanh Phong incident.

Lt. Cmdr. Michael J. Walsh and Greg Walker, SEAL!. pb New York: Pocket Books, 1995. 292 pp. (Copyright is 1994, but there is no indication of an actual 1994 hardcover.) Walsh served multiple tours in Vietnam starting in Mekong Delta late 1968.

Steven L. Waterman, Just a Sailor: A Navy Diver's Story of Photography, Salvage, and Combat. New York: Ballantine, 2000. 284 pp. Waterman was an underwater photographer for the Navy. Chaper 18 covers his Vietnam service in 1969 with UDT-13 (though he had not really had UDT training), initially in I Corps, later operating off the Terrell County (LST-1157) at the mouth of the Song Ong Doc in the Ca Mau Peninsula.

Chief James Watson and Kevin Dockery, Point Man: Inside the Toughest and Most Deadly Unit in Vietnam by a Founding Member of Elite Navy SEALs. New York: Morrow, 1993. Watson served three tours in Vietnam, beginning in 1967.

Chief James Watson with Kevin Dockery, Walking Point. New York: Morrow, 1997. 320 pp. pb New York: Avon, 1998. 296 pp.

Darryl Young, The Element of Surprise: Navy SEALs in Vietnam. New York: Ivy Books, 1990. xxiv, 274 pp. Covers Young's service in Juliett Platoon, SEAL Team 1, in Vietnam (near the mouth of the Bassac River), June to December 1970. He also served a later tour in Vietnam with UDT 11.


For the rescue of Iceal Hambleton, shot down in Quang Tri province during the Easter Offensive of 1972 and rescued by SEAL Thomas Harris and a Vietnamese guide, see under Talty, and Whitcomb, in The Easter Offensive of 1972.


Some SEAL documents have been placed on-line in the Virtual Vietnam Archive of the Vietnam Project, at Texas Tech University, notably in the Jerry J. Fletcher Collection and the Dale W. Andrade Collection. These include:

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Copyright © 1996, 1998 , 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2018, 2022, Edwin E. Moise. This document may be reproduced only by permission. Revised October 31, 2022.