10:22 PM

Memorial Day 2008

Posted by Skye |

Please excuse the delay in this post. It seems my social life was interfering with my blogging life. I try to maintain a balance of the two, however, there are times when they both get out of sync. Oh, I did acquire a new toy this week that has captured my attention.

Right...on to the story.

Thanks to one of the most talented journalists working at the Inquirer, Kevin Ferris, this Memorial Day was quite memorable. He passed along to me a press release detailing an event billed as the "Schuylkill Banks Navy Appreciation Days". Commodore Evin Thompson and a group of Navy SEALs and Special Combatant Crewmen (SWCC's) arrived by boat (Mark V) to the Schuylkill Banks to participate in a ceremony to dedicate the Navy SEAL Grove at Schuylkill Banks . Within this grove are three trees which were planted in memory of three SEALs —Michael P. Murphy, Michael A. Monsoor, and Admiral Charles LeMoyne. After the ceremony, the Mark V and their crews would host tours of the boats and answer questions from the public.

This sounded like a dishy event to me, so I rang my friend Raoul and asked if he would like to join me in this adventure. Most times, I'm pretty good with directions, but was fuzzy on the location of the 'Schyulkill Banks".

We arrived just in time, it seems, for myself and Ian Bush (KYW-1060) found ourselves on board the Mark V's , awaiting to depart the bank for a demonstration of a zodiac boarding the Mark V.

I have to thank Katt, the Navy media officer and Dava Guerin for allowing me this fabulous opportunity.

Yep, that is your intrepid blogger posing for a photograph with the Mark V Special Warfare Boat Crews (SWCC's). My friend Ben jumped into the photo as well, he looks good for over 200 - the botox treatments does wonders for him.

What is a Mark V? Let this civilian fill you in on all the details - with some help from the US Navy Fact File:

The Mark V is used to carry Special Operations Forces (SOF), primarily SEAL combat swimmers, into and out of operations where the threat to these forces is considered to be low to medium. They also support limited coastal patrol and interruption of enemy activities.

Length: 82 feet.
Beam: 17 feet 6 inches.

Displacement: 57 tons.
Speed: 50 knots.

Who are the Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen (SWCC's)? From my experience, I can say they are world class gentlemen. The U.S. Navy SWCC Information website has this to say:

Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen (SWCC) operate and maintain the inventory of state-of-the-art, high-performance boats used to support SEALs and special operations missions. Individually, SEALs and SWCC go through separate, but similar, specialized training programs that emphasize special operations in the maritime environment. SWCC are trained extensively in craft and weapons tactics, techniques and procedures. Focusin on clandestine infiltration and exfiltration of SEALs and other special operations forces, SWCC provide dedicated, rapid mobility in shallow water areas where larger ships cannot operate. Like SEALs, SWCC must be physically fit, highly motivated, combat-focused and responsive in high stress situations.

Naval Special Warfare has played a significant role in Operation Iraqi Freedom, employing the largest number of SEALs and SWCC in its history. NSW forces were instrumental in the success of initial special reconnaissance and direct action missions including the securing of the southern oil infrastructures of the Al Faw peninsula and the off-shore gas and oil terminals; the clearing of the Khor Al Abdullah and Khor Az Zubayar waterways that enabled the first humanitarian aid to be delivered to the vital port city of Umm Qasr; reconnaissance of the Shat Al Arab waterway; capture of high value targets, raids on suspected chemical, biological and radiological sites; and the first successful POW rescue since WWII. NSW forces continue to conduct direct action, special reconnaissance and over watch missions throughout Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. They established a Foreign Internal Defense program, training and advising Iraqi Forces and have worked jointly with 3rd Group USSF and Iraqi counter-terrorist forces to prevent terrorists from conducting activities meant to disrupt Iraqi elections.

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