Thomas H. Keith, Master Cheif, SEAL Team 2, and J. Terry Riebling
Thomas Dunne Books
During the Vietnam era, many of the U.S. Navy SEALs (SEa, Air, Land commandos) never filed for a Purple Heart unless they were severely wounded. Thomas H. Keith, Master Chief, SEAL Team 2, is living proof. He carries a piece of shrapnel behind one lung, a reminder of the day he called in 40 mm mortar fire on the enemy that was trying to catch up to his crew as the crew hauled ass out of the bush. Not only did he never report it, it was never removed---it just wasn’t serious enough.
SEAL Warrior is the vivid, gritty, transporting memoir of a man destined for combat, a third-generation soldier for whom serving his country was not only an honor, it was tradition. While his grandfathers fought in France, and his father’s position as a U.S. Navy Chief took him all around the world, Tom Keith fought his first war in the jungles of Vietnam.
Fighting a guerilla war on foreign soil for the first time in American history, the SEALS found that there were no front lines; the enemy was an integral part of the entire society. This atypical form of warfare demanded that new tactics, new strategic applications of force, and a new understanding of a complex social and cultural enmity be found.
SEAL Warrior goes beyond the horror and bravado of battle to offer a deeper insight into the ways in which the SEALs fought, learned, reacted, and expanded their understanding of guerilla warfare during the Vietnam War. It’s also a personal, riveting account of how one young American survived, and, over time, grew to trust and revere many of those who once had been his enemy.
With America again deeply involved in guerilla warfare, there is no better time to honor the unique abilities, understanding, and courage of these warriors who sacrificed it all to fight for nothing less than peace.
1 The Fourth of July
It was a moonless night, and seventeen green-faced men were hidden in the bush and along the dikes; we were hunting the Vietcong. Fresh, hot intel had come in from the Chieu Hoi camp that had been checked, double-checked, and confirmed by the CIA. We were loaded for bear and ready to let Charlie know that they couldn’t hide too deep or too far away. No matter where they went or what they did, we would find them, dig them out, and make them dead.
The VC that had been preying on the local villages, carrying off sons and daughters at the muzzle of an
Praise for Thomas H. Keith, Master Chief, SEAL Team 2, USN (Ret.)
“Tom Keith was, in a phrase, a phenomenon of understatement and overachievement. He was the ‘go-to guy’ within the East Coast SEAL community, and he continues to be ‘gone to’ wherever he hangs his hat or docks his boat. Tom Keith is the man I wish I were.” --Larry Bailey, Captain, USN (Ret.)
“It is a very special breed that can work and function effectively in the most dangerous environments on the planet. Three tours in Vietnam and many other locations around the globe, including Afghanistan and Iraq, and being held in the highest esteem by the guys that were his brothers in arms more than qualifies him as a national hero. It is my privilege to call Tom Keith my friend.” --Steve Schwarzer, master bladesmith
“From his first day in training until his retirement, Tom Keith always put the team first. As a warrior there were a few men that were his equal, but none that worked harder. Tom always let his actions speak for him, and his actions, on and off the field of battle, spoke volumes. Tom never gave anything less than his best, and his best was as good as it gets.” --Rudy Boesch, Command Master Chief, USN (Ret.)
“It has been my pleasure to know and have associated with Thomas Keith for well over forty years. He has been a good friend and steadfast teammate. I say, in his case, ‘still water runs very deep.’ His quiet, calm demeanor works well for him. He participated in and led many dangerous diving missions from Underwater Demolitions Team 21. He did three action-packed six-month SEAL tours in the Rung Sat, Vietnam. He spent perilous years in Afghanistan and Iraq fighting for their freedom. As always, he is the strong leader who commands the utmost respect. As always, he receives admiration while smiling in the face of adversity. As always, he’s the consummate warrior committed to doing the impossible. And, as always, he is quite a professional.” --Tom Blais, Command Master Chief, USN (Ret.)