Inside SEAL Team Six: My Life and Missions with America's Elite Warriors

Inside SEAL Team Six: My Life and Missions with America's Elite Warriors

by Don Mann, Ralph Pezzullo


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316204309
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 06/05/2012
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 244,280
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Don Mann (CWO3, USN) has for the last thirty years been associated with the Navy SEALS either as a platoon member, assault team member, boat crew leader, or advanced training officer; and more recently program director preparing civilians to go to BUD/s (SEAL Training). Up until 1998 he was on active duty with SEAL Team 6. Since his retirement, he has deployed to the Middle East on numerous occasions in support of the war against terrorism. Many of the active duty SEALs on SEAL Team 6 are the same guys he taught how to shoot, conduct ship and aircraft takedowns, and trained in urban, arctic, desert, and river and jungle warfare, as well as Close Quarters Battle (CQB) and Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT). He has suffered two broken backs, two cases of high altitude pulmonary edema, and multiple other broken bones, in training or service. He has been captured twice during operations and lived to talk about it.

Co-writer Ralph Pezzullo is a New York Times bestselling author and award-winning playwright, screenwriter and journalist. His books include Jawbreaker (with CIA operative Gary Berntsen) and Zero Footprint (with military contractor Simon Chase).

Read an Excerpt

Inside SEAL Team Six

My Life and Missions with America's Elite Warriors
By Mann, Don

Little, Brown and Company

Copyright © 2011 Mann, Don
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780316204316

Inside SEAL Team Six


Virginia, May 1, 2011

Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden.

—President Barack Obama

It was a quiet Sunday night, and I’d just returned from a long weekend of SEAL training at Naval Amphibious Base, Little Creek, in Virginia Beach, Virginia. I poured myself a glass of wine and was watching an egret rise from the marshland behind my house when my cell phone rang.

Reading my wife Dawn’s number on the LED screen, I answered. “Hey, honey, what’s up?”

“Don, where are you?” she asked. She sounded excited. Almost out of breath.

“I just got home. Why?”

“You need to turn the TV on. Tune it to CNN.”

“How come?”

“Just do it. You are not going to believe what just happened!”

As soon as the TV screen lit up I saw a photo of Osama bin Laden—similar to the one I’d been using for dry shooting practice in my basement. Underneath ran a banner: bin laden killed in pakistan.

I leaned forward. Adrenaline started pumping through my veins. I’d been in a program to try to nail the bastard. And I had never really gotten over the horror and embarrassment of the attacks on 9/11.

Could it be true that we had finally taken out public enemy number one—the hated and greatly feared leader of the al-Qaeda terrorist group?

Dozens of questions started running through my head, including: How was he killed? Did he put up a fight? Who ran the op? Then I heard Wolf Blitzer mention SEAL Team Six. I couldn’t believe my ears.

Then Wolf Blitzer mentioned the name again.

Even though I was stationed at SEAL Team Six from 1985 to 1989 and 1995 to 1998, I’d rarely heard its name uttered in public. Maybe once or twice when the *************xxxxxxx******** appeared on TV. But besides that, almost never, not even by guys on the teams.

Officially, there was no SEAL Team Six (ST-6). ******** ******************************************************************************* xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx***********

Unofficially, ST-6 was the most highly trained warfare unit on the planet.

Now Wolf Blitzer was announcing to the world that ST-6**** *********************************************** 

Many of the active-duty SEALs on Team Six were guys I had taught how to shoot and *************xxxx*********** and trained in ********************************xxxx******** as well as in ************************************************************************** xxxxxxxx). I knew how they thought, how they trained, and how they were selected.

A couple months earlier, I’d attended an ST-6 reunion in the building where I had worked for many years, and many of the active-duty guys were serving us beer and liquor. The current SEALs kept pictures of the SEALs I’d served with on the walls.

I spoke with an an active-duty guy who was a member of Blue Team, one of ST-6’s assault teams. “During the eighties and nineties we trained and trained and trained but had only the occasional op. Now you guys are conducting missions back to back. With two wars going on, how the heck do you have time to serve us drinks?”

He answered humbly and respectfully. “Yes, but you’re the guys who paved the way. We’re extremely grateful to all of you.”

Later this young, professional, soft-spoken SEAL with a fresh scar across his face took me to his cage and showed me his gear. My attention was drawn to the three-******************** *************************** silencer that he kept in the lower left pocket of his **************************.

“Is that for your MP5?” I asked. The MP5 I was referring to was actually an MP5********************* ********** *** *********​*********** **************************** **************************>;*******************

“Sure is.”

I said, ************************************

He nodded. “Yeah, I like it. A couple of months ago during a raid, we made a silent entry and I entered this room and used it to kill four known terrorists. It worked so well that a couple other terrorists from the same cell remained sleeping in a room down the hall. I killed them too. They never knew what hit ’em.” He said this matter-of-factly. He was a professional: killing terrorists was part of his job.

One of the members of ST-6 who went on the raid ******** ***** *** told me later that he’d been on more than seventy raids over the last couple of years. The pace of combat was intense, and important commendations such as Silver Stars and Bronze Stars were handed out so often that the team no longer had time for medal ceremonies. Instead, the Silver and Bronze Stars were sent in the mail.

I listened as Wolf Blitzer on CNN described how the SEAL team had been flown in by Black Hawks from Afghanistan and attacked the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, right under the noses of the Pak army. He said that one specially modified Black Hawk helicopter had gone down hard and hit a wall, which had made it impossible for the SEALs to fast-rope into the compound as planned.

But SEALs were trained to prepare for all kinds of contingencies. Something always went wrong. You did your best to “plan your dive and dive your plan.”

I knew that there had been hundreds of raids against bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders that had come up empty. Dry holes, we called them. Missions that the American public never heard about.

Given that, the SEALs sitting in the two Black Hawks must have had doubts that Osama bin Laden—known as UBL in military parlance—was even in Abbottabad. But some of those misgivings would have evaporated within minutes, after they breached the wall and took fire from the guesthouse. The threats shooting at them were protecting someone. Who?

Adrenaline slammed through their veins as they entered the main house. They were dressed in *************** ****************************************************** *********************************************************;******************* ************************************** They held their M4s and MP5s at the ready as they scanned the rooms looking for immediate threats. They encountered wives and children, people SEALs generally refer to as nonthreats or, sometimes, unknowns—because you can never be sure. The SEALs focused on hands first, because hands hold weapons.

They were also looking for suicide vests and booby traps of any kind.

*************************** *********** ************ *************************************************************** ***********************************************

*************************************x************* ********************************************************** ********************************************************* ********************************************************* *********************************************************** **********************************

They were equipped with *******************************  ***************************************************************** **************************************

Masters of CQB, the SEALs moved quickly from room to room. Every man had a specialized job and knew what he was supposed to do. They were **************************************** *************************************************************** **************************************************************** ***************** They’d previously memorized photos and studied descriptions of everyone in the house.

***************************************************** ****************************************************

The SEAL motioned to the two operators behind him, and the three men crossed immediately to the bedroom where they found the six-foot-four al-Qaeda leader standing with two of his wives.

UBL’s fifth wife, Amal al-Fatah, charged the lead SEAL, shouting in Arabic and waving her arms. Fearing that she might be wearing a suicide vest packed with explosives, the first SEAL to enter the bedroom shot her once in the leg.

Then he pushed bin Laden’s other wife aside.

One of the SEALs behind him already had bin Laden in his sights. The al-Qaeda leader stood by the bed wearing a white prayer cap and robe.

**********************************xx*************** ************************************************************ ************************************************************* *******************************************

At that moment that ST-6 member must have felt like the luckiest man in the world.

Once the shooting was over, the building secured, and UBL confirmed dead, the commo rep on the SEAL team radioed back to command and control: *********** ************************* ************************************************************ ****************

Other SEALs had already started going through the house collecting intel. A treasure trove of computers, cell phones, thumb drives, computer disks, and documents. Amazing!

One of the ST-6 commandos who participated in the op told me, “The mission was so easy, it was like shooting at paper targets.”

As I listened to the news on CNN, I felt powerful emotions—tremendous relief and overwhelming pride at ST-6’s success and the fact that they got this mission in the first place.

Not too many years earlier I was on a beach in northern California with ST-6 ********************************* We inserted off a mother craft, in a storm.

The waves were enormous. One second we were twelve feet below a rapidly building crest, and the next we were lifted up so high we could see miles beyond the beach.

As in most water ops, we were paired up as swimmer teams. My buddy and I struggled but made it safely to shore. As the team medic, I had to treat three fellow SEALs who almost weren’t as lucky. They nearly drowned.

The **************************************** who was observing the mission came over to me and asked, “Are you going to be able to swim these hostages out of there on the real mission?”

I said, “Sir, we’ll be fine. But the hostages, especially the injured hostages, might not do so well. Some will make it, but some may not. It depends on the intensity of the surf.”

He thanked me for my frank answer.

Later, we learned that particular mission had instead been assigned to the *XX*** *** *** *** *** ** *** ** **** ****** *************************xxxxxxx********* ******** ******* ****** ** ***** ****************** ********* ***********************

We were pissed. Once again, the big green machine (the Army) had nabbed a mission that should have been ours!

In those days, ***** and ST-6 ****************missions. But now ***** had to be kicking themselves with envy. They knew the hit on bin Laden would never be topped. Not in our lifetimes.

Soon after SEAL Team Six captured and killed bin Laden, my phone started ringing off the hook. One call after another came from reporters working for ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, the Washington Post, Newsweek, and even al-Jazeera TV. They were also e-mailing and texting me.

They all wanted to know the same thing: You were a commando on ST-6, you were the ST-6 advanced-training officer; how did ST-6 train for this op?

Yes, I was the ST-6 advanced-training officer; I knew how the team trained for its raids. But I wasn’t about to give away any specific mission- or training-related information that might aid our enemies.

Instead, I gave them all the same answer: “They trained harder than anybody else in the world. They trained for the insertion, actions on the objective, lots of shooting in the shooting house, breaching, emergency medicine, commo, contingencies, hostage handling, intel searches, and for the extraction.”

 And as I spoke, I felt a strong sense of affirmation. Now fifty-three years old and a veteran of many ops, scrapes with death, broken bones, and ruined marriages, I knew that every minute of my time with the SEALs had been worth it.

Maybe the young SEAL Team Six member I’d met in the team room months before was right: in my own small way, I’d helped to pave the way to this great success.

I wanted to think so. I still do.

Chapter One

Somalia, 1985

The only easy day was yesterday.

—SEAL motto

You having fun, Doc?” Lieutenant Haig asked. He called me Doc because I was trained as a Navy corpsman (the Army referred to us as medics), and he and the other two SEALs on our team trusted me to patch them up should the need arise. Lieutenant Haig (we called him LT) was a Lebanese American, about five ten, 185 pounds. Sported a sinister smile and was a student of military history. He was also as gung ho as they come.

“Hoo-ya,” I answered, which is SEAL-talk for, roughly translated, “Hell, yes.”

I was in my midtwenties and this was my first real-world SEAL mission—a top secret, highly dangerous reconnaissance-and-demolition op; ten years before, I hadn’t even heard of the SEALs. Four of us were sitting in a six-by-six-foot foxhole covered with desert-​camouflage netting on a beach in an undisclosed part of Somalia, up to our necks in water fouled with excrement and puke. Ours. But despite the less than ideal conditions, I was loving it. I said to myself, This is incredible. It’s what SEAL team is all about!

Two nights earlier we’d executed a jump out of a C-130 off the coast. First out, our rubber boat—a Zodiac CRRC (combat rubber raiding craft), which we called a rubber ducky. It was followed by our gear—scuba equipment, motor, gas can, paddles, water, shovels, MREs (meals ready to eat), commo supplies, rucksacks, demolitions. Then the four of us with our weapons, belts, and packs.

It was pitch-black when we hit the water. Then the C-130 tore off into the night sky, leaving us to our mission with no support whatsoever, which was almost unheard-of. Under normal circumstances, we would have been given backup and a medevac plan.

But this was a special mission. One of the most dangerous and important ops SEAL teams had gone on since Vietnam. So critical, in fact, that the SEAL commandant had personally selected us from all the SEALs stationed on the West Coast.

When our Zodiac CRRC motored to within a thousand meters of the shore, me and my SEAL buddy Bobby O.—a little Irish guy whose specialties were comms and picking up chicks—donned our black skin suits, which covered us from head to foot, slipped on our fins, slid in the water, and swam to the beach. It was a little finger of land with a harbor area and airport to the west and a big landmass beyond a tributary to the east.

SEALs aren’t choirboys. A couple of months earlier, I was trying to get Bobby out of a hotel room in the Philippines. He spoke to me through the closed door, saying, “Don, I’ve reached the lowest point of my life.” When he finally let me in, I saw a naked Filipino woman sitting on the foot of the bed smiling; she was cross-eyed and wore thick glasses and was hugely overweight and covered with freckles.

But despite Bobby O.’s tastes in women, I trusted him with my life.

As I sidestroked through the ocean, I kept checking the water behind and to the sides of him, and he watched the water around me. We’d been warned during the pre-mission intel briefing that these waters were infested with sharks. Seems like the Somali operated a camel-meat processing plant nearby that dumped the camel innards in the ocean, thus attracting hundreds of sharks.

Thankfully, Bobby and I made it to the shore in one piece and the four of us quickly dug two holes, one to bury our equipment in and one to live in, both of which we covered with camo netting.

And that’s where we were two days later, me, Bobby O., the LT, and Drake—a tall, lanky guy and weapons expert—**************************************************************************************************************************************** It would’ve been easy work if it weren’t for the extreme heat and violent windstorms that filled our mouths and ears with sand. Especially when we were trying to sleep, which we had to do sitting up.

“You still having fun, Doc?” the lieutenant asked.


Added to the sandstorms were two other challenges. One, our hole had filled up with salt water during high tide. And two, all of us were suffering from serious cases of food poisoning.

************************************************************************************************************************************* They reciprocated by showing us how to eat poisonous snakes: by snapping their heads against our boots, peeling the skin back with our teeth, pulling out the venom sacs, and eating the meat. Now we were all horribly sick. Running fevers, puking our guts out, and suffering from real ugly diarrhea.

In between frequent bouts of relieving ourselves in our foxhole, we cursed the Egyptians. Soon after we left Cairo, they were sent on a mission to take down a hijacked Boeing 737 Egypt Air jet. *************************************************************************************** on the plane and set it on fire. Fifty-eight passengers died, along with two of the six crew members and two of the three Abu Nidal terrorists. The third, Omar Rezaq, was captured and sent to prison. Until September 11, 2001, it was the deadliest airplane hijacking in history.

The Egyptians considered the mission a success. We, however, were deeply embarrassed and knew we’d get ribbed endlessly about it when we returned to the States. Something like Nice job, guys. Next time we need to ***** foreigners to fry airline passengers, we know who to send.

Back in the hole on the beach, my teammates were losing patience. Even our lieutenant started to bitch, saying, “I should have trained to become a helicopter pilot. This sucks.”

Drake, a total action junkie, said, “I should have stayed living in the desert, racing cars and motorcycles.”

Aside from the occasional gripes, we didn’t talk much. Instead, we listened to our surroundings and were occupied with our own inner musings about life and the possible dangers that waited around the corner, musings that were intermittently interrupted by the sound of one of us snoring or throwing up. Thick green bile mostly, since we didn’t have anything in our stomachs.

LT turned to me and flashed his isn’t-life-a-pile-of-shit smile. “You still having fun, Doc?”

“I’m fine, LT. What about you?”

 Sitting in a foxhole with sand whipping our faces and shitty water up to our necks didn’t seem to be such a hardship, considering the excitement of the op. I mean, no one other than a handful of people back in Coronado, California, even knew we were there. We were completely on our own in enemy territory with limited ammo, on a *******************************************************************************************

It didn’t get more thrilling than this.

Day three, I was on watch with my *****************************************************************************************************—when, through my goggles, I spotted a local man approaching. Through the rising heat and swirling sand, he looked like a figure out of the movie Lawrence of Arabia.

It was about three in the afternoon. The man was skinny, midtwenties, with a short beard. He obviously had no idea that he was approaching a hole with four armed U.S. Navy SEALs inside.

I roused my buddies as I kept my weapon trained on the Somali man’s chest. We’d been taught to aim at the center of mass. Despite what you see people do in the movies, heads are too easy to miss.

The four of us SEALs were well versed in the U.S. military rules of engagement, which stated, in part: “Deadly force may be used to defend your life, the life of another US soldier, or the life of persons in areas of US control…when (a) You are fired upon; (b) Armed elements, mobs, and/or rioters threaten human life; and (c) There is a clear demonstration of hostile intent in your presence.”

Common sense told us to simply take the guy out with a silenced weapon and feed him to the fish. But warfare is rarely simple, and we’d been trained to operate within the parameters of the U.S. military code.

There was nothing we could do except watch the guy approach and hope he changed course. Which he didn’t. Because, according to Murphy’s Law, “If something can go wrong, it generally will sooner or later.”

When he got within thirty yards of us, he saw us, and the guy stopped in his tracks. I watched his shocked expression as he took in the camo netting and the four of us wearing desert-camouflage uniforms, floppy hats, and goggles, all of us pointing weapons at his chest. For all we knew, he thought we were aliens from another planet.

Then he raised his arms. No, he wasn’t giving us the Vulcan salute. He was freaking out, shouting in a language none of us understood—probably Somali. After doing a quick about-face in the sand, he ran away as fast as his skinny legs could carry him. Since we weren’t in a position to take him prisoner, we just watched.

“Shit!” muttered my teammate Bobby O.

Now, in addition to being sicker than ever, we’d just been compromised. Which wasn’t good at all. We were having trouble keeping down water and MREs (which we called “not really meals or ready to eat”). And our demolition mission and extraction wasn’t until the following night.

We waited until nightfall, then slammed into action. The plan was to dig up all our gear, cover the holes so it looked like we were never there, inflate the rubber Zodiac, put it in the water, place our dive gear inside, rig the gas tank and engine, motor toward the harbor, then dive and attach a limpet mine to one of their ships.

We definitely weren’t in the best of shape. But the three of us were digging hard, unearthing our equipment, as the LT kept watch. I was psyched to finally be moving; I was heaving shovelfuls of sand over my shoulder when I heard the LT say, “Okay, guys, put your hands up.”


“Guys, put your hands up!”

I wasn’t sure I was hearing him right. But when I looked past the LT I saw about two dozen armed Somali approaching with AK-47s pointed at us. They were climbing over a slight knoll about a hundred meters away, and they looked frightened, as though they were wondering: What are these strange-looking giants doing on our land?

Maybe because I was in the company of highly trained teammates I trusted, I wasn’t scared. We could have run and jumped in the water. Or we could have reached for our weapons. Either way, we probably would have been shot to pieces by the Somali.

Our lieutenant wisely told us to stand right where we were and raise our arms over our heads, which we did, even though it felt wrong to surrender without a fight.

The Somali circled us with their fingers on the triggers of their AKs. Safeties off. I remember thinking: They can’t shoot us now, because if they do, they’ll fire right into one another.

But these weren’t trained soldiers. Besides, what did I know.

Their leader started screaming incoherently. We had no idea what he was saying. His men looked like they wanted to blow us away and return home.

Bobby O. tried addressing the head man in English. “Hold on, chief,” he said. “Let me show you something.”



As Bobby reached for his rucksack, four Somali put rifles up to his head. I thought they were going to blow his brains out.

Bobby shouted, “Whoa, guys! Back off!” And looked like he was about to shit his pants. All of us tensed up.

Their leader motioned with his arm. Using the few words of English he knew, he said, “Down! Down! We shoot you!”

Screw that.

His volume increased. “Down! Get down!” It looked like his eyes were going to pop out of their sockets.

We weren’t moving. No fucking way.

As their leader continued pointing at the ground and screaming, a couple of the other armed Somali discovered the gear we’d started digging up. Thankfully, they didn’t look through the bags, because if they had, they would have seen the mines and demolition equipment and quickly figured out that we were up to no good.

Our LT said, “We speak English. Do you know someone who speaks English?”


“Yeah, English. We’re Americans.”

This seemed to register with their leader, who decided to hold us prisoner while one of his men returned to the nearest village to find someone who spoke our language.

Several hours later, his man came back with a dirty-looking fellow who described himself as a local merchant. He wore a robe with a dark vest over it and spoke some English.

It was approaching midnight. The merchant explained that the Somali were going to kill us for trespassing on their land. He said, “Okay, sir. Now you must lie on your stomach, so they can shoot you in the back. Because that’s what they do here to trespassers.”

No, we told him. That’s not going to happen.

What started as a standoff turned into a discussion conducted without anger or raised voices but with loaded AK-47s still pointed at our heads.

After several hours of back-and-forth, the Somali leader gave us permission to show the interpreter one of the ****************** we had in our rucksacks. “It says that we’re only on a training mission,” the LT explained. “We’re Americans. We’re sorry we trespassed on your land. We won’t do it again.”

The Somali leader considered this, then pointed emphatically to our rubber boat and said, “Go!”

The local merchant elaborated. “He wants you to get in your boat and go back to America.”

“Sure thing.” That was a long way to travel with a 55-horsepower motor, but it sounded good.

“Go…now!” the leader repeated.

“Yeah. Right away.”

We thanked the merchant and the leader, who turned and left with his armed men and the merchant, to our great relief.

Our LT had been right not to resist them. If we’d done anything differently, all four of us would most likely have been shot and left to die on the beach in Somalia.

We were physically and mentally exhausted. “LT,” Bobby O. said. “We just cheated death. What do you say we go home?” None of us felt like diving into shark-infested waters.

LT wasn’t having any of it. Like I said before, he was a gung ho type. He growled, “Guys, get your gear on. Our mission won’t be a success unless we complete it. Let’s go!”

“Has he lost his friggin’ mind?” Bobby O. asked under his breath.

Still wearing our skin suits, we donned masks, fins, white belts, and rebreathers. Then dove into the warm, pitch-black bay, which stank and was covered with a layer of oily gunk. Our route took us right past the camel-meat processing plant. All I could think of was the sharks. When something brushed past me, my heart almost stopped.

We were going on pure adrenaline and couldn’t see a thing other than the luminescent dials of our depth gauges, compasses, and Tudor dive watches. The German diving Drägers strapped to our chests were feeding us 100 percent oxygen so that no bubbles could be seen on the surface.

We had four hours max before that high a concentration of oxygen became toxic. We traveled in two-man teams. I was paired with Bobby. He was the navigator and focused on his dive compass, while I timed each leg of the dive with my watch. After we swam an allotted amount of time on a particular bearing, I’d squeeze his arm, which was the signal for him to stop and set the next direction on the compass.

We doglegged through the harbor for three hours underwater until we located the right ship. Then we extracted the *********** from a pack and attached it to the ship’s hull exactly where our intel had determined it should be placed. **********************************************************************

We set the timer and checked our watches: we were running out of time.

Now we had to swim back to where we had anchored our Zodiac CRRC. But when we got close we realized we had a problem. We’d left the boat when the tide was high. Hours later, in the low tide, our Zodiac rubber boat was beached and a couple of hundred meters from the water. High and dry.

First light was less than an hour away. Even though we were completely spent from the ordeal with the Somali and then the four-hour dive, we had to sprint over to the boat, carry it to the water, sprint back to pick up the gas tanks, motor, and all our gear, and then carry it back to the boat. This took multiple trips, all of which we had to do while carrying our personal gear and weapons.

By the time we had all our gear in the Zodiac and the 55-horsepower motor cranked up to max, the sun was starting to rise over the horizon.

That meant that we’d missed our primary pickup time; now we had to wait another twenty-four hours and try again.

Instead, our LT decided that we should trek ten kilometers through the desert and then radio headquarters to initiate plan B, which involved meeting a local guide who would take us to a nearby airstrip. This meant that we had to be on alert all day in case the armed Somali tribesmen returned.

Shortly after nightfall we met our guide, a smelly little Ethiopian man who had never worked with Americans before. For some reason, he was constantly touching us and giggling. I was designated the guide handler, meaning it was my job to take the guide out if he should do anything to put us in jeopardy.

The eager Ethiopian led us through some low desert terrain to the far end of an airstrip. As the sun started to rise, we paid our guide, cut through the barbed-wire fence, crawled through on our bellies, then radioed the extraction aircraft.

Then the four of us hid in the low shrubs and waited. No one had slept more than an hour or two in the past four days.

LT, lying beside me, asked, “How are you doing, Doc?”

“Okay, LT. How about you?” We were shivering and sweating simultaneously. Sick, dirty, hungry, thirsty, and exhausted. The sun burned into our backs.

“You still having fun, Doc?”

“Hoo-ya,” I answered, with a little less enthusiasm than before. The truth is I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of there.

All of us kept glancing up at the cloud cover over the landing strip, hoping for some sign of a friendly aircraft.

As the minutes dragged by, our desperation grew.

Finally, after about an hour, we heard this low rumble that quickly turned into a roar. Sounded as though the sky were exploding. Bobby O. covered his ears.

Looking up, I saw a C-130 cut through the clouds nose-first, like an arrow headed straight for the ground. As the four of us held our breath, the C-130 straightened out at the last second, touched down on the runway, and immediately slammed on its brakes.

Smoke billowed from the landing gear as though the plane were on fire. The smell of burning rubber was intense.

Through the drifting smoke, we watched the rear ramp open. Then the LT said, “Let’s go!”

We ran like hell with all our gear. As soon as we boarded, the crew closed the ramp and then the plane took off. Talk about an amazing short-field landing. I’d seen several, but none as dramatic as that.

The C-130 ferried us back safely to the base in Cairo. The mission had been a success, but we were all sick as dogs; at the base, we lay in a stifling fly-filled tent—pasty white, throwing up constantly, running high fevers. I was in the worst shape of the four of us. I couldn’t keep fluids down and it was impossible to get an IV in my arm because my veins had collapsed. My fever was up to 104 and rising.

My alarmed teammates summoned an Egyptian doctor. Half awake, I saw him approach me with a nasty-looking syringe that had no cover on it. His hands looked dirty and he was covered with flies.

“Egyptian medicine,” he announced with a big smile. “I’ll take care of you, sir. I’ll fix you.”

I said, “No way you’re putting the needle and whatever is in it in me.”

He backed off. After half a dozen more tries, Bobby O. finally got an IV in my arm. We forced in about 3,000 ccs of Ringer’s lactate, and I started to revive.

That night the four of us were invited to go to dinner with some Egyptian military VIPs. We were still weak and exhausted, but we were expected to attend. At around six, a little guy named Mohammed showed up to escort us to the restaurant.

On the way, he took us through a section of town that was crowded with tourist shops peddling jewelry, cosmetics, scarves, and rugs. He stopped in practically every shop we passed to point out the array of perfumes.

He’d say, “Look, Mr. Don. Your wife, your girlfriend will like this.”

“No, thanks, Mohammed.”

None of us showed the least bit of interest. We just wanted to get the dinner over with, return to the base, and crash.

But Mohammed wouldn’t leave us alone. He was constantly at my elbow, saying, “Look, Mr. Don. Fine perfume. Very nice. I get you the very best price.”

“No, thanks.”

I tried arguing with him, I tried ignoring him, but he wouldn’t let up.

After half an hour we arrived at an upscale restaurant where four or five Egyptian military officers were waiting. They escorted us to a round table. My three SEAL buddies sat across from me. The Egyptian officers found places next to them. Mohammed settled to my right.

The waiters placed before us plates of fried falafel, kushari, baba ghanoush, lamb kebobs, and more. All the local delicacies. None of us four SEALs had any appetite. We just wanted to get through the dinner politely and then go back to our tent in west Cairo. It had been a difficult week.

But Mohammed to my right kept bugging me. He kept saying, “Please, Mr. Don. You can’t leave without buying some fine perfume. I’ll take you later.”

“No, thanks.”

He wouldn’t let up. “Please, Mr. Don. I insist. I’ll show you. I’ll personally guarantee the very best price.”

“I said no.”

“Oh, yes, Mr. Don. You’ll see. These are the finest perfumes in all the world.”

I’d held myself together through the heat and diarrhea, the night of captivity and exhaustion, the collapsed veins, even the sharks. But with this little Egyptian handler refusing to leave me alone, I snapped. I lifted a sharp knife from the table and held it to his throat.

Mohammed’s eyes bugged out and his face turned white.

In an even tone—without raising my voice—I said, “Shut the fuck up, Mohammed.”

He nodded and I put down the knife.

Nobody at the table said anything about the incident. We finished our dinner as though nothing had happened.

As we neared the base, LT walked beside me and flashed his sinister smile. “You still having fun, Doc?” he asked.

“Sure.” But inside, I was saying, I just want to get out of here alive and in one piece.

“Teams and shit, huh, Doc?” LT asked. It was a SEAL saying that in a few words described all the training and hardship we had to go through to accomplish what we did. I’d just completed my first real-world SEAL mission.

“Teams and shit. Yeah,” I responded, now appreciating what the words meant.


Through all the action, the physical and mental challenges, and the brushes with death, my enthusiasm for SEAL life hasn’t dimmed. Call me a maniac, which many people have. Call me crazy. But I’ve never wanted it any other way.

Chapter Two

New England, 1970s

Looking for adventure
In whatever comes our way…

—Steppenwolf, “Born to Be Wild”

During my career I’ve been called Dr. Death, Don Maniac, Warrant Officer Manslaughter, and Sweet Satan. Over the past three decades I’ve served as a Navy SEAL lead petty officer, assault team member, boat-crew leader, department head, training officer, advanced-training officer, weapons of mass destruction (WMD) officer, and, more recently, program director preparing civilians for BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/ SEAL) training. I was asked by the U.S. Navy in 1997 to assist with the Navy recruiting command and created the SEAL Adventure Challenge and the SEAL Training Academy, where we taught skydiving, combat scuba diving, small-unit tactics, marksmanship, and land navigation. Up until August of 1998, I was on active duty with SEAL Team Six.

Owing to my long years in service and my career in extreme adventure sports—which has included seventy-five thousand miles of running and three hundred thousand miles of biking—I’m also known on the teams as the high-mileage SEAL.

Over the years I developed a reputation for being one of the ST-6 commandos who liked to push the envelope. Rip it apart if I could.

Like the time I decided to beat the biannual SEAL physical-readiness test record in Panama on a black-flag day. Black flag means “dangerously high heat.” According to base policy, military and civilian personnel weren’t allowed to exercise or work outside on a black-flag day. I said, The hell with that, and set out to beat the course record.

In the hundred-degree, high-humidity heat, I performed 120 push-ups and 120 sit-ups, swam a half a mile, and followed that with a three-mile run. During the run, less than three hundred meters from the finish line, my vision started to blur to the point that I couldn’t tell the people from the trees. I kept pushing harder. Woke up on my back looking up at the timekeeper—a senior chief petty officer in a khaki uniform.

“Did I break seventeen thirty?” I asked him, referring to the course record of seventeen minutes and thirty seconds.

“Seventeen twenty-eight, you maniac,” he answered.

“Then I’m okay.”

Most people have no idea of what their full potential is. One of my mottos is Blood from Any Orifice. Because I figure that if you don’t push beyond what you think your limits are, you’ll never know your true abilities.

I’ve always tested limits. People who know me say that despite my intensity, I appear to be soft-spoken and relaxed. Truth is, over the years I’ve learned to manage the almost uncontrollable fire burning inside me.

But I put my parents through living hell growing up.

I was a bad kid, and I’m not proud of the fact that I was a lousy role model to my younger brother, sisters, and friends. My parents were good, kind, loving people who deserved better than what I gave them.

My dad loved his country so much that the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor he quit high school to join the Navy. He became a distinguished stunt pilot. On the last day of World War II, an officer ordered him and fifteen of his fellow sailors to stand on the platform of an aircraft carrier so that they could be ceremoniously lowered down to the dock.

But the platform mechanism broke and they fell sixty feet. My dad broke his back. One sailor died. Since then he had a soft spot for disabled vets—volunteering long hours at the local VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) and serving as the state commander of the VFW in South Carolina. He ended up working as an executive in large insurance companies, and he still liked nothing more than to make other people laugh and have a good time.

My mom was a Limestone, Maine, homecoming queen, the valedictorian of her class, and the salt of the earth—totally dedicated to her family in every way. She was born premature, weighing three pounds, in an early February blizzard. Her parents didn’t think she would survive, but they put her in the kitchen oven to keep her warm until the storm eased up enough for them to get her to a hospital.

She had a quick, sarcastic wit that made all of us laugh. She and my dad were like a comedy team at parties—the local Stiller and Meara.

And I was their first son—a bat-out-of-hell, shit-kicker motorcycle punk. I popped out of my mother’s womb with a wild, crazy energy that has never let up.

We lived in various spots throughout New England—Limestone, Maine; Orange, Connecticut; Nashua, New Hampshire—but I consider Methuen, Massachusetts, to be my childhood home (it’s also where my dad was born). It’s situated in the northeast part of the state, right across the border from Rockingham County, New Hampshire. Back in the 1970s, Methuen and nearby Orange were considered Mafia towns. Methuen was rough but bucolic, with ponds, streams, the Merrimack and Spicket Rivers, a bird sanctuary, and lots of forested land.

I was into giving myself impossible challenges from the start. Beginning in second grade, one of my favorite activities was to go into the woods and walk for hours in a random direction, then try to find my way home.

By fourth grade, I was sneaking smokes on the school playground and building go-carts out of shopping-cart wheels and scraps of wood. My buddies and I would slip out at night and meet at the cemetery, which had this wicked long hill. We’d fly down it in the dark, screaming and often crashing into headstones. Part of me knew what we were doing was wrong, but I was young and filled with wild, anarchic energy, and it was so much damn fun.

By fifth grade, I’d graduated to minibikes, which led to dirt bikes and motorcycles. Then I was really gone.

I loved the smell, the roar, the power, the promise of the track, open trail, and road. For me, nothing matched the excitement of riding fast and hitting the jumps hard so I sailed high in the air. The suspense that occurred during flight was incredible.

My dad, bless his heart, tried his best to keep me under some kind of control. Because I was too young to get a license, he told me to stick to riding on the track or on the trails in the woods behind our house. But I couldn’t resist the lure of the streets—where the big kids rode their choppers.

I craved danger, action, and adventure, and it won’t surprise you that my hero growing up was Evel Knievel—a man who wasn’t afraid to look death in the face.

Imitating my idol, I’d roar down the streets on my Kawasaki 175 doing wheelies, scaring old ladies, and getting into fights.

I studied Evel’s life and knew he failed as many times as he succeeded. When he attempted to jump the fountains outside of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, his bike malfunctioned on takeoff, causing him to hit the safety ramp and skid across the parking lot, which resulted in a crushed pelvis and femur, fractures to his wrist and both ankles, and a concussion that kept him in a coma for twenty-nine days.

In ’68 he crashed while attempting to jump fifteen Ford Mustangs and broke his right leg and foot. Three years later, in California, while trying to jump thirteen Pepsi delivery trucks, he came down front-wheel-first on the base of the ramp and was thrown off his bike. He broke his collarbone and suffered compound fractures of his right arm and both legs.

He ended up in the Guinness book of world records for suffering the most broken bones in a lifetime—433. But through it all, he never backed down from a promise. I considered that important. Evel said, “When you give your word to somebody that you’re going to do something, you’ve gotta do it,” and when he promised an audience he would make a jump, he did it, even when he realized that it was impossible.

Years later, and with both of his arms in casts, Evel Knievel flew out to California and confronted a promoter named Shelly Saltman who alleged that Evel had abused his wife and kids and used drugs. Evel attacked Saltman outside Twentieth Century Fox studios with a baseball bat and shattered his wrist and arm.

He also told kids to stay in school and not do drugs.

I listened to him, even though drugs and failure were becoming more and more common all around me.

Another big influence was the Hells Angels, which was a paradox, since Evel regularly criticized them for dealing drugs.

Motorcycle gangs were big in our neck of New England. Besides the Angels, we had the Huns, Evil Spirits, Hole in the Wall—and given the environment I grew up in, it was probably inevitable that the guys I hung out with started stealing motorcycles and cars. They targeted kids who they thought didn’t deserve them. For example, if they heard that some rich kid’s father had bought his son a fancy new Honda motorcycle or a Camaro, one of them would say, “That douche bag doesn’t even know how to ride; let’s go rob the sucker.”

No wonder the area I grew up in eventually became one of the stolen-car capitals of the United States. In the early to middle 1970s, many of the stolen vehicles were driven to a place called the Pit, located in a heavily wooded part of Methuen, Massachusetts, where the cars and motorcycles were stripped for parts.

Even though I drew the line at stealing, I got a kick out of driving a stripped car up a steep hill, putting it in neutral, riding down, and jumping out before it crashed into the other cars and trees below. I also liked to fight, ride, and get crazy.

By the time I was in sixth grade, the kids around me were drinking and doing drugs. Our drink of choice was something we called a Tango—orange juice and lots of vodka. We also drank our share of Boone’s Farm wine, which to our unsophisticated palates tasted fantastic.

I became a ringleader. I was the only non-Italian in our group, the Flat Rats—so named because we lived in a suburban part of the town called the Flats. Many of my friends had dads and uncles who were members of the Mafia. We had long hair and wore black leather jackets, jeans, tight-fitting T-shirts, and black boots.

Total hell-raisers.

One summer afternoon I was out on the road riding motorcycles with my buddy Greg. I said, “Hey, Greg, if you see the cops, take off. Because if I get caught, my dad will kill me.” I was maybe fifteen years old. Too young to have a driver’s license. Trying to outrun the cops was always a good time.

We were cruising up a local two-way back-country road north of Methuen when we came to a stop at a four-way stop sign, and I spotted a cop car to my left. I yelled, “Greg. Cops. Take off!”

He pulled back on the throttle but flooded out and stalled.

I hung a right on my Kawasaki 175 and took off. WFO (wide fucking open), we called it. To my mind, WFO was the only way to go.

My bike could only get up to about seventy-two miles an hour max, so on the straight stretches of road, the cop car got right up on my tail. I braked, downshifted, and turned right onto somebody’s lawn. Because the grass was wet, I did a quick one-eighty, spitting up a rooster tail of mud and grass.

The cop surprised me and turned onto the lawn too.

This guy wasn’t going to be easy to shake.

I peeled off back in the direction I’d come from, thinking that maybe I’d catch up with Greg. My Kawasaki screamed, the cop’s siren blared, and adrenaline raced through my veins. Approaching the four-way stop sign, I saw another cop cruiser light up its flashers and join the chase.

Now I had two cop cars on my tail.

I tore through one town after another, running through my repertoire of tricks. My favorite was to stick my right arm out like I was pulling over, then, when the cruisers passed me, gun the bike and scream by, shooting the cops my see-ya smile.

But nothing seemed to work. After forty-five minutes of being chased, I began to worry. None of my previous escapades with the police had lasted this long. I was actually more worried about my father than the cops.

My long hair flying out of the back of my helmet, I tore down country roads with the cops on my tail. Approaching cars had to swerve off to the side to give us room to pass. I was a small kid—maybe five seven at fifteen years old—and the bike was too big for me, so I was bouncing up and down on the seat and gas tank, which hurt.

One police car inched up to my back wheel, and, determined not to get caught, I zoomed faster, past a large farm where some of my buddies and I had worked. Some of the Puerto Rican workers out in the fields picking corn recognized me and started cheering. They yelled words of encouragement.

Salem, New Hampshire, was just ahead. I saw the light at the five-way intersection turn red. To my right was a Dairy Queen parking lot crowded with pickups and station wagons filled with families and kids going out to get a summer afternoon sundae swirl or shake.


Excerpted from Inside SEAL Team Six by Mann, Don Copyright © 2011 by Mann, Don. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Virginia, May 1, 2011 3

Chapter 1 Somalia, 1985 11

Chapter 2 New England, 1970s 25

Chapter 3 Graduation, 1976 39

Chapter 4 The Navy 53

Chapter 5 BUD/S 72

Chapter 6 Goat Lab 88

Chapter 7 SEAL Team One 101

Chapter 8 117

Chapter 9 SEAL Team Six 131

Chapter 10 ST-6/Divorce 149

Chapter 11 Panama 165

Chapter 12 San Bias Island 180

Chapter 13 El Salvador 195

Chapter 14 Back to ST-6 211

Chapter 15 Retirement from ST-6 227

Chapter 16 The Dirt Circuit 242

Chapter 17 ST-6 Today 259

Epilogue 270

Glossary 279

Acknowledgments 283

Index 285

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Inside Seal Team Six: My Life and Missions with America's Elite Warriors 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 47 reviews.
MountainmanMC More than 1 year ago
I read this book so fast I was finished before I new I was near the end. It made me hungry for more! Mr. Mann details his troubled childhood and his early Navy days before he was a SEAL in order to tell a story about a young man who, by sheer force of will power, overcame not only his troubled childhood but also everything the Navy could throw at him in SEAL training. His insane athleticism inspires and and wears the reader out. It seems he always had a new goal, a new challenge in his drive to excel. He gives some details of actual missions, which were then redacted by govenment censors (he leaves the lines, blacked out, in place, which I thought was a clever touch), but in the interest of protecting our existing Special Forces Operators, of course he left a lot to the imagination. Still, the book provides insight into what kind of training our elite forces are undergoing, and how special they really are. Reading this book made me laugh, cry, cheer and hoot. Mr. Mann's infectious personality is in this book. He curses like a sailor, tends to the wounded like Mother Teresa, and uplifts the reader with his story of his life. He is a true hero and you will feel the same after reading this book.
Reviews-ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Steve G. for Readers Favorite Upon seeing the title and cover of this book “Inside Seal Team Six”, a person wouldn’t realize that this book is a love story - a story about a man’s love for his God, his family, his country and his navy seals and all that they stand for. Don Mann’s autobiography tells his story of being a hotheaded daredevil teenager growing up in MA. He was beginning to get in more trouble when he fell in with a bad crowd. He realized that he was heading down the wrong path and decided to follow in his Dad’s footsteps by joining the Navy. Don wasn’t satisfied with being the average sailor; he wanted and craved more. He went through medical school and excelled but always strove and pushed himself farther. Don’s goal was to become a Seal, not just a SEAL but a member of Seal Team Six, the elite of the SEALS and he accomplished that goal. Don’s missions took him and his team all over the world, from deserts to frigid areas and to swamps and jungles. His love for the SEALS took its toll on his relationships and his family. He faced the same personal situations that we all do all over the globe. He went AWOL to help save his brother from losing his family and possibly his life from drug addiction. One of his most trying times came after he left the Seals; his step-son was murdered by the drug dealer. Don and his wife went on to form a successful company for those like minded people who were into extreme sports. When 9/11 occurred Don felt compelled to serve his country once again by training troops and allied troops. This audio book is a great one. Throughout the book there were beeps where parts of the book had been censored due to National Security. It is seldom that I want to listen to a book again but this is one of those books. Mann shares a few humorous incidents. Most of the book is dedicated to the life threatening missions the Seals face. This book is so interesting that I found myself sitting in the truck longer so that I could hear what was coming next. Mann’s life is fascinating. I highly recommend this book. I suggest this tome for young adults, especially males interested in the service. This audio book has a bonus CD with photographs. Peter Ganim does a great job of reading this book. He is clear and has read it with great intonation. I would highly recommend this book. Praise God that men like Don Mann and the Seals are on our side.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im sure it's a great book, but so much of the nook version is messed up you can't read it. I had to get a refund.
cavmdc More than 1 year ago
I've known Donn for years and hadn't heard all of these details. His book is a quick read because it draws you in. I can see now why he is such a great adventure racer, his past was one big adventure race !
ken-lee More than 1 year ago
You can really appreciate what it take to become a SEAL and what they do. It is impossibly hard and not normal. It definitely takes a special person. There was a lot that was blanked out, probably appropriately, but a good book to read and one of several now available by and about SEALs. I recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book itself it good, but a lot of it is just blocks.... I do not recommend getting the book until they fix the issue.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was a very good read. I would recommened it to everyone to read, it gives you some great insight to how are special forces team live there everyday lives and the sacrifices they make to protect our great nation.
cathie35 More than 1 year ago
As a woman, I felt compelled to read this book. I come from a Military service family. My father had 44 years in the navy. He enlisted in 1927 and retired in 1971. As a child I remember those years he was away in the 1940's. I heard the stories of when his ship was hit and blown out of the water. Also of survival. I read this book with feelings of what one person gives up to do what he believes in. I thank God there are men (and Women) out there who follow their convictions. They give from the heart. Doing the good and the bad. The way they push to be better at what they do.. I can rest easy knowing there are men like these doing what they trained to do.. God Bless them all....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is good except for the retractions this guy did some awsome stuff i have great respect for people so dedicated
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Between extensive childhood history, retirement history and the huge amounts of redacted...not deleted, but actually blacked out sections that serve to annoy rather than mystify, content detracts from the books advertised topic. This along with mediocre writing, makes this easily my least favorite book about the Teams. While I'm sure the author has seen and participated in many amazing exploits, they are not detailed here with any degree of finesse or excietment.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After finishing Chris Kyle's 'Amercan Sniper' I was looking forward to this book. After only 3 pages in, the majority of the text was squares/blocks instead of words. I contacted customer support and the initial response, after realizing there is indeed a problem with the book, was "You will recieve an email in 1-2 weeks once the problem is resolved so you can enjoy your purchase." Errrr.....excuse me!? HOW ABOUT A REFUND? She talked to a supervisor and informed me a refund will be processed in 24-72 hours. Outstanding! Or so I thought because it takes 1-2 billing cycles for the bank to refund the money. In other words, 1-2 months! (And thats B&N's doing, not the banks) I even pleaded to just be given an online credit to where I would gladly make another purchase but was denied. With all the tablets on the market you would think B&N would do more to beat the competition and keep happy customers. Sadly so, I regret purchasing a Nook Tablet. I sure hope they get this book fixed because I know it will be excellent!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is everything. A manual for lifestyle, war, relationships and more! Don is the most credible author with an impressive military biography. A must read for all.
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