Richard "Dick" Marcinko (born November 21, 1940), is a former United States Navy SEAL and author. He was the first Commanding Officer of SEAL Team Six and Red Cell. After leaving the Navy he became an author, radio talk show host, military consultant, and motivational speaker.
A number of nicknames have been ascribed to Marcinko, including "Rogue Warrior", "Demo Dick", "Shark Man of the Delta" and "The Geek".
Marcinko was born in Lansford, Pennsylvania. After attending Admiral Farragut Academy in Tom's River, New Jersey, Marcinko enlisted in the United States Navy in 1958.
On May 18, 1967 Marcinko led his men in an assault on Ilo-Ilo Island where they killed a large number of Vietcong personnel and destroyed six of their sampans.
Marcinko returned to Vietnam after a few months stateside, again with SEAL Team 2 as the officer in command of Eighth Platoon. During the Tet Offensive Marcinko ordered his platoon to assist the US Army Special Forces at Chau Doc. What began as an urban street battle turned into a rescue mission of American nurses trapped in the city's church and hospital.
After completing his second tour in Vietnam, and a two-year stateside staff assignment Marcinko was promoted to Lieutenant Commander and subsequently assigned as the Naval Attache to Cambodia in 1973. After serving for 18 months and upon leaving Cambodia for orders stateside, Marcinko became the Commanding Officer of SEAL Team Two.
SEAL Team Six
During the Iran Hostage Crisis in 1979, Marcinko was one of two Navy representatives for a Joint Chiefs of Staff task force known as the TAT (Terrorist Action Team). The purpose of the TAT was to develop a plan to free the American hostages held in Iran which culminated in Operation Eagle Claw. In the wake of the operation's disaster at Desert One, the Navy saw the need for a full-time dedicated Counter-Terrorist Team and tasked Marcinko with its design and development.
Marcinko was the first commanding officer of this new unit which he named SEAL Team Six (at the time, the US Navy had only two SEAL teams. Marcinko purportedly named the unit Team Six in order to confuse other nations into believing that the United States had three other SEAL teams that they were unaware of). The men in the unit were handpicked by Marcinko himself from across the US Navy's Special Operations community. SEAL Team Six would be known as the US Navy's premier counter-terrorist unit; being compared to the US Army's Delta Force. Marcinko held the command of SEAL Team Six for three years from 1980-1983 instead of what was typically a two-year command in the Navy at the time.
After leaving command at SEAL Team SIX, Marcinko was tasked by Vice Admiral James "Ace" Lyons, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, to design a unit to test the Navy's vulnerability to terrorism. The unit was Naval Security Coordination Team OP-06D, unofficially named Red Cell. In 1984, Marcinko hand-picked twelve men from SEAL Team Six and one from Marine Force Recon.
This team tested the security of naval bases, nuclear submarines, ships, civilian airports and a U.S. embassy. Under Marcinko's leadership, the team was able to infiltrate seemingly impenetrable, highly-secured bases, nuclear submarines, ships and other purported "secure areas" (including the U.S. Presidential plane Air Force One) and to disappear without incident. These demonstrations showed that a vulnerable military resulted from the replacement of Marines and Air Force Security Police by contracted private security agencies often started by retired military personnel.
Marcinko has claimed, among other things, that Red Cell successfully captured nuclear devices from United States Navy facilities, and proved the viability of plans to:
penetrate and attack nuclear-powered submarines
destroy subs by using them as improvised dirty bombs, and
capture launch codes for nuclear weapons aboard the subs by using mild torture against personnel in custody of launch codes.
Former members of Red Cell, notably Steve Hartmann and Dennis Chalker, maintain that these exercises were a cover to move SPECWAR operators around the world for covert missions against real-world terrorists.
Marcinko has since published a VHS and DVD movie account of his "Red Cell" operations. In doing so he embarrassed several superior officers, whom he accuses of involvement in his subsequent conviction for misappropriation of funds and resources under his command.
His experiences led him to write his autobiography, The New York Times best-selling Rogue Warrior, and subsequent fictional sequels, most of which are co-written with ghostwriter John Weisman.
He is currently CEO of Red Cell International and formerly of SOS Temps, Inc., a private security consulting firm based in Washington, D.C.. He had a politically conservative talk radio show America on Watch with Dick Marcinko which was broadcast live. He is a spokesman for the Zodiac boat company's Zodiac Maritime Training Academy, and served as a consultant on FOX's television series 24.
Marcinko served time in federal prison under charges of defrauding the government over the price of contractor acquisitions for hand grenades. Marcinko maintains that he was the subject of a witch-hunt for his work with Red Cell and that the fraud committed revealed the weaknesses of military security. Marcinko has detailed his arrest and confinement in the last chapters of his autobiography.
Marcinko has partnered with Bethesda Softworks to publish Rogue Warrior for video game consoles and PC. Marcinko himself is the protagonist, voiced in the game by actor Mickey Rourke, trapped behind enemy lines in North Korea on a covert mission to assess the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. The game received universally abysmal reviews, with critics citing poor AI, excessive use of expletives, numerous bugs, and shallow gameplay that featured only a 2-3 hour single player mode and multiplayer that included only deathmatch and team deathmatch.