Book Review

Hunters and Shooters: An Oral History of the U.S. Navy SEALs in Vietnam by Bill Fawcett.

Hunters and Shooters

18 August 2005

Michael Dilley

Although oral histories have been around for a number of years, they do not seem to sell very well in book form. The technique of using oral histories or interviews is more closely associated with historical research to preserve the memories of participants while they are still alive.

This technique is more often utilized as a research tool by historians or history students than it is by writers as the basis for a book. There are two notable exceptions dealing with the Vietnam War – EVERYTHING WE HAD and BLOODS. HUNTERS AND SHOOTERS ranks with these two. It also apparently began as a research project to preserve unit history, as it is written in cooperation with the UDT/SEAL Museum.

This book would more accurately be subtitled an oral history of SEAL Team Two in Vietnam since fourteen of the fifteen interviewed served their tours in-country on that particular team. The other also belonged to Team Two but was transferred to Team One when he was sent to the Vietnam theatre.

HUNTERS AND SHOOTERS covers a very broad perspective, dealing with experiences in SEAL Team Two as well as events occurring in Vietnam. Some of those interviewed had previously served in UDT units and were 'plankowners' of SEAL Team Two, explaining the expansion of the Navy's special warfare capability. One, Third Class Electrician's Mate Dick Pouliet, actually designed and oversaw the manufacture, assembly, and deployment of a “sail” to fix NASA's “SKYLAB”. All of those interviewed, regardless of when they went through the program, shared the common training, whether it was in UDTB, UDTR, or BUD/S. All that is, but one, Second Class Hospital Corpsman Greg McPartlin, who was not permitted to receive some of the training, especially “Hell Week”, due to then current interpretations of the Geneva Convention. All served in combat, some of them during the same time. Interestingly enough, McPartlin served in Vietnam as a corpsman with Third Marine Force Recon before transferring to the SEALs.

Singling out one experience as being better than others fails to do justice to the book. Each helps to forms the mosaic of experiences that made up SEAL Team Two during the Vietnam War. HUNTERS AND SHOOTERS is a valuable contribution to the history of the special operations forces, Navy SpecWar, and the Vietnam conflict. I highly recommend it to all who share these interests and to students of military history in general. I look forward someday to reading a similar work on SEAL Team One.

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This article was originally published in Behind The Lines magazine. has reproduced this article with the kind permission of Gary Linderer.

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