PHIL BUCKLEW: PRO FOOTBALL PLAYER AND FOUNDER OF NAVY SPECIAL WARFARE
By Buddy Blouin
Navy special warfare is a vital function within the U.S. military that has helped not only make America a safer place but also the world in general. By now, everyone knows the exploits and abilities of U.S. Navy SEALs, but before they become a household name, their specialized work didn’t technically exist. The group’s origins are actually found as America was prepping for war and Imperial Japan launched a horrible attack on Pearl Harbor. It just so happens that this horrific blow would inspire professional football players to join the service. And as fate would have it, one of them, Phil Bucklew, would help lay the foundation for the Navy’s newest specialized division.
What Is a Special Warfare Operator in the Navy?A Special Warfare Operator (SO) helps prepare, train, and execute missions involving any specialized environment. For the Navy, this typically involves a body of water. Navy special warfare is a specialization that takes Sailors to beaches, rivers, lakes, oceans, seas, etc. SOs are most commonly known as SEALs in the Navy. But SEAL stands for Sea, Air, and Land. So don’t be confused to see these elite troops operating in other areas outside the water. The training that Navy SEALs undertake requires mental and physical fortitude that is among some of the toughest in any branch. In modern warfare, the Navy Special Warfare Development Group, better known as SEAL Team Six, solidified itself as an internationally known unit after successfully killing the infamous terrorist Osama Bin Laden. Becoming a Navy Special Warfare Officer is no easy task, but with hard work and dedication, it is an attainable goal. The benchmarks are high because the tasks are tremendously challenging. This is proven time and again by the work they do (that we know of), and it's been evidenced since day one.
Phil Bucklew Dominated the Gridiron and Naval Servicehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VselmlxHnUk There was no Super Bowl when Phil Bucklew took to the field. As a fullback, tight end, and punter, Bucklew was a jack of many trades. This proved true as he helped lead the Columbus Bullies to two consecutive American Football League championships. Before playing in the AFL, Bucklew gained notoriety on the football field by playing at Xavier University before going on to play for the Cleveland Rams, now located in Los Angeles, in addition to the aforementioned Columbus Bullies. But on a day that could have been like any other, suddenly, the world would stand still and Bucklew's life would change forever. Working the sideline as a coach for the Bullies, Bucklew’s focus would go from blocking schemes to the devastating news that Imperial Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor. Around 17,000 were in attendance that day and the attack was announced to everyone present. The team left the field, got clean, headed to a bar, and began talking about joining the military. This would be the beginning of a military journey for a man that is now known as the "Father of Naval Special Warfare." At this time, a new job for Sailors was coming into focus and the people who did it were referred to as Amphibious Commandos. Sailor Phil Bucklew became an instructor in this new field. Soon, he along with nine others found themselves at the head of amphibious assault operations and began developing new strategies that would be adopted by the U.S. military.
Suggested Read: What To Know Before Joining Special Forces Training"The whole program was 'go out and do it.’ They gave us a boat to go out and try anything you wanted," said Bucklew. A recon unit for landing on beaches known as Scouts and Raiders was created and comprised 10 men who entered into this new idea of how warfare is conducted. It was a harsh occupation that found them working with limited intel, under heavy fire, and surviving intense situations like holding up on a raft in a firefight with Nazis. Eventually, they would arrive in Casablanca but would be sent back to America to train further. Before long, it was time to add to their repertoire and the team pursued new skills, tactics, and weapons, all the while improving on their ability to conduct such operations. One of these new tactics involved underwater demolition. Bucklew and crew were sent to invade Sicily, an operation in which they were successful despite once again coming under fire. Then, in 1944, they went to Normandy to retrieve sand samples to help aid in the preparation of Operation Overlord. When D-Day arrived, these men would help signal the location of Omaha Red Beach, they would break through Axis beach defenses, and lead scouting for the advancement after finally taking the beach. Following World War II, the Korean War was fast approaching. Working with the CIA, Bucklew would help with the new war effort by commanding patrol-torpedo boats used to gain intel. He would also help to develop the warfare tactics of patrol-torpedo boats even further. President John F. Kennedy created the Navy SEALs in 1962. SEAL Team One needed a leader and Bucklew was a natural choice. He would be its Commander and would have to face the next challenge for American warfare: the Vietnam War. It was a rough go of things even by warzone standards, as Vietnam’s reputation would confirm. Nevertheless, he persisted even as the Navy failed to heed his warning to take control of the rivers before the Viet Cong could. Bucklew would end up earning a position at The Pentagon. Eventually, the Phil Bucklew Naval Special Warfare Center would be named in his honor in 1987. Though he passed away in 1992, his legacy continues through one of the fiercest fighting forces found anywhere in the world.
The Navy Special Warfare Command Defends American Interests Around the GlobeWith a specialty in maritime interests, the Naval Special Warfare Center helps defend the U.S. and its allies around the world. Naval Amphibious Base Coronado may hail out of California but its reach is global. From coordinating Navy special warfare missions for SEALs to assisting allies, no matter what is required, the Naval Special Warfare Center is ready to complete the mission.
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