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Acting on a gut feeling, I slowly swung Bad Girl’s two barrels to my right. I just knew the enemy was coming.

The silence lasted almost an hour, then it was broken. The culprit was a paddle. About seventy-five feet away I could barely see a sampan with two men.

I slowly pivoted the M-16/XM-148 toward the enemy, but before I got her fully turned around, the sampan turned and its bow ran up on the beach just ten yards from my bugged-out eyeballs. The men remained in the grounded boat and whispered frantically. Believing that they’d seen me and were about to shoot me, I clicked the M-16 from semi- to full automatic. Snatching the moment out from under the gooks, I squeezed the M-16’s trigger, spraying the sampan from end to end with the entire 30-round magazine.…

A Presidio Press Book

Published by The Random House Publishing Group

Copyright © 1994 by Gary R. Smith and Alan Maki

All rights reserved.

Published in the United States by Presidio Press, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and distributed in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto. Originally published in slightly different form by Paladin Press in 1994.

PRESIDIO PRESS and colophon are trademarks of Random House, Inc.

eISBN: 978-0-307-78824-5



This book is dedicated to my mother and dad, my coauthor Alan Maki, my faithful friends Randy and Kathy Bryant and Paul and Helen Martens, and to George A. Maki, who served with the 2nd Division Combat Engineers of the U.S. Army in World War II.



Title Page






Author’s Note


CHAPTER ONE: Mission One

CHAPTER TWO: Mission Five




CHAPTER SIX: Mission Ten

CHAPTER SEVEN: Mission Rehearsal

CHAPTER EIGHT: Mission Eleven

CHAPTER NINE: Mission Seventeen


CHAPTER ELEVEN: Mission Twenty-one

CHAPTER TWELVE: Mission Twenty-seven


CHAPTER FOURTEEN: Mission Twenty-eight

CHAPTER FIFTEEN: Mission Thirty-four




What makes a man like Gary R. Smith spend twenty years of his life in the United States Armed Forces, fifteen of those years assigned to Naval Special Warfare? Certainly not the money. Was it “free” education, retirement benefits, or devotion to one’s country? Well, one thing I know for sure is that Gary Smith wasn’t looking for a free ride. Any man who is physically and mentally tough enough to endure UDT/SEAL training and survive five Vietnam combat tours in elite units is definitely not taking a free ride and just “putting in his time.” Therefore, Gary can honestly say that his hitch in the military was truly a career of which he is proud. This is not the case with all retirees, but you won’t find many of those types involved with the Naval Special Warfare program.

Gary’s first-person account of his experiences while serving as an enlisted man with SEAL Team 1 in Vietnam is written from the point of view of one who served in the war during 1967 and 1968. He and his coauthor, Alan Maki, have tried to reproduce the mind-set Gary brought into the field, in order to share with the reader an honest view of “the way it was” for Gary, his teammates, and all UDT/SEAL personnel who completed BUDS (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL) Team Training and served with a UDT or SEAL team in armed conflict against the NVA and Viet Cong in Southeast Asia.

As you will see in this book, during UDT/SEAL training we were instructed in the techniques used by the NVA and Viet Cong. We knew our enemy very well before we deployed to Vietnam. And we called him many offensive names—names like “gook,” “dink,” “slope,” and “slant-eye” were commonly used by many military personnel who served in the war. Unfortunately, the use of ethnic slurs and stereotyping was also an unofficial part of the training—not only with the Teams, but with all armed forces. Certainly this attempted dehumanization of the enemy was cruel, but with the types of missions UDT/SEALs were involved in, many of us might not have survived combat had we thought of our enemy in a better light. To hide this important fact would give the reader a false representation of war in general, because the technique of dehumanizing the enemy has been used throughout history. The authors of this book do not hide this truth, nor do they hide any others.

One of the main reasons Gary decided to share his story with us is because of the large number of phony SEALs who are surfacing, just as people are claiming to have served in U.S. Army Special Forces who did not. Such people are responsible for spreading false information about UDT/SEALs and giving the Teams a bad name. After all the pain that true SEALs suffered just to complete UDT/SEAL training, the blood we shed in combat, and—most important—the men we lost in Vietnam, no one has the right to claim he was in the Teams unless it is a fact. In my experience, those who boast the most about combat experiences in Vietnam were never even there. But you won’t find a SEAL bragging about his experiences in the line of duty. Anyone who has been in the Teams can tell very quickly when a “wannabe” is trying to impress people. This book is an attempt to present a factual look at the life of a Navy SEAL, minus the braggadocio and the hype.

The truth, however, is this: with his having survived one combat tour with Underwater Demolition Team 12 and four combat tours with SEAL Team 1, Gary Smith can truly be called one of the heroes of the Vietnam War. The medals on his chest give evidence of that fact. You will not hear that from him, however. Instead, you will hear the story about “the way it was” for a SEAL in Vietnam from someone who knows firsthand. I can honestly say that one reason I, myself, am alive today is because of the experienced combat SEALs like Gary who put me through training; their professionalism in training and combat kept many

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