COMBAT SWIMMER by Robert A. Gormly


Memoirs of a Navy SEAL
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Captain Gormly, USN (Ret.), a much-decorated, high-ranking SEAL who served for all of 29 years in this elite, secret arm of the navy, recalls his high-risk tours of duty in Vietnam, Granada, the Persian Gulf, and the suspense-filled mission to capture the hijackers of the Achille Lauro. Operating in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, he and his superbly trained fellow warriors beat the terrorist Viet Cong guerrillas at their own game—partly because, as Gormly tells it, the SEALs saw water as a haven, not an obstacle; with the help of their excellent equipment, they could stay submerged safely for many hours. And Gormly believes that the SEAL experience in Vietnam can be seen as a microcosmic symbol of the greater US effort that fought the wrong kind of war: a battle of attrition waged according to the advice of military leaders who failed to understand that they were facing a political-military conundrum. To explain the conundrum, he likens the communist attempt at world domination to a giant lizard. The lizard’s head represents the small group of dedicated communists who formed the political infrastructure, while its tail suggests the communist military force, filled with average people—apolitical but forced to fight by terror or coercion. Our mistake, Gormly writes, was to cut off the tail of the lizard (which then merely grew another tail) while failing to destroy the head, the infrastructure. The far more successful communist strategy was to outlast the Americans, who would tire and go home after losing 58,000 soldiers. Gormly can’t forget the picture of Jane Fonda posing with a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft battery that had shot down a US plane. Nor can he forgive the US pardoning of draft dodgers who objected to the war. His riposte: Even dutiful combat soldiers also object to war—as did the patriotic author. A candid and unstinting military memoir. (8 pages b&w photos) (Author tour)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-525-94326-9
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1998


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