It is hard to imagine a world without special forces such as the US Navy SEALs or the US Army Green Berets in this day and age of small scale warfare, surgical strikes, and a war on terrorism, but that was where the United States was in the beginning of WWII. The US recognized the value of small teams of operators that could quickly and quietly infiltrate behind the enemy’s lines and carry out missions that could have devastating effects on the enemy.
“This “Father of the Navy SEAL’s looked me square in the eye ans said,’Swimming is not one of my favorite things!'”
First Seals, written by Patrick K. O’Donnell, traces the history of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) Maritime Unit (MU) through its’ infancy to the end of the second world war and the men that were recruited for the newly formed unit. He details the obstacles that they must overcome, such as a lack of funding and testing new equipment such as an experimental re-breather unit to keep divers bubbles masked during clandestine operations in an enemy harbor. O’Donnell does a good job of recounting these stories, but parts of the book do seem repetitive, and the final chapters devolve into a concentration camp story that could probably stand on its own in another title.
This book is a good read and is interesting to see where our elite teams come from. If you are a military history buff, you will enjoy the stories in the book, along with the pictures and maps.