SEALs set safety day after two died


running up that hill
Jan 3, 2007
in Wonderland, with my Alice
Navy special operations forces across the world will stand down and review safety procedures this week after the death of a SEAL during parachute training in Marana.
Officials wouldn't say whether the death of Chief Special Warfare Operator Lance M. Vaccaro, or another fatal SEAL parachuting incident that occurred in February, triggered the order. But the Navy called the stand-down uncommon, adding that it couldn't remember the last time a similar action was taken.
The order was given Friday, a day after Vaccaro, of Reading, Pa., was killed during a parachute training exercise at Pinal Airpark.
Safety reviews such as the one scheduled for Thursday require personnel to take a step back and review procedures, officials said.
The stand-down affects all Naval Special Warfare Command units, roughly 5,400 personnel stationed across the country and throughout the world, including SEAL teams and training facilities such as the one just north of Marana, said Lt. Steve Ruh, a unit spokesman.
"We need to focus on operational risk management and make sure that 100 percent of our personnel are safe," he said.
Additionally, all SEAL training at the Pinal Airpark facility will be on hold until after an investigation into the deaths of Vaccaro, 35, and Senior Chief Petty Officer Thomas J. Valentine are complete, Ruh said. He had no timetable for how long the investigation would take.
Valentine, 37, was killed on Feb. 13 during a free-fall parachute training exercise, which is similar to civilian sky diving.
His body was found at the Mission Royale Golf Course in Casa Grande, 30 miles south of Phoenix.
Valentine, from Minnesota, was a father of two and had served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Vaccaro, who had been a SEAL since 1997, served in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. He enlisted in the Navy in 1991.
"Chief Lance Vaccaro was an outstanding SEAL, a combat-tested leader and a great American," Rear Adm. Joseph Kernan, commander of the Naval Special Warfare Command, said in a press release.
Both Vaccaro and Valentine were part of East Coast-based SEAL teams.
The causes of the two fatalities appear to be different, officials have said.
Ruh didn't know how many SEALs train at the Pinal Airpark at a given time but said the facility is used by the special operations forces throughout the year and has been used for several years.
"It's one of the places we continue to go to," he said. "Roughly 65 percent of our SEALs end up there at some point."
Operating out of Coronado, Calif., and Little Creek, Va., the SEALs are an elite special operations force known for their clandestine missions and training. There are about 2,450 SEALs in the Navy.
The Pinal Airpark also is home to an Arizona National Guard aviation training center that specializes in Apache Longbow attack helicopters.
Navy SEALs Issued Worldwide Safety Stand-down

Put down your sniper rifle.

Stop jumping from airplanes.

Take off the camouflage face paint.

Right now, 2,300 of our country's most elite military members are taking a day off from their dangerous work.

All Navy SEALs are in the middle of a day-long safety stand-down. And it not only affects the SEALs, but their 3,000 support people too. From the young men in BUDS training to the highest specialized operators, from the personnel at their home bases here in Norfolk and Virginia Beach to those hunting the Taliban in the rugged mountains of Afghanistan, everyone is taking a day to review safety.

Navy SEALs are called the most flexible, highly trained commandos in the world. From frozen glaciers to the depths of the ocean, the frogmen go everywhere. In the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan, SEAL skills are proving priceless. But training here at home to perfect those skills has proved deadly this year. Three times in the last two months, a SEAL has died in training. 37-year-old Thomas Valentine died in a parachute accident, then three weeks later, 35-year-old Lance Vaccaro died in one too. Both were from Virginia Beach. Special Warfare officials say their deaths do not appear to be related. A few weeks before their deaths, a 22-year-old SEAL was shot in training in Mississippi. Officials say the stand-down has nothing to do with those deaths.

"Safety's always the number on thing in your mind before you go out and do any evolution," said Lt. Steve Ruh, Deputy Public Affairs for Navy Special Warfare. "Whether it's an operational exercise or training or you're over in Iraq or Afghanistan operating in the field, safety is first."

And the safety review doesn't just cover how to load bullets in your gun or how to handle grenades, the review is also covering safety off the job and at home.

"Yes, when you're out there cutting your grass and you're out there in your flip flops, you've got to stop and say wait, 'Is this the appropriate footwear for me to be wearing?' Safety Sam would say, 'No it's not! Let's put on your personal protection equipment'."

Silly as that may sound, the public needs to realize what a huge loss one of these men is for the country. There are only 2,300 Navy SEALs. They are the best of the best and even a bruise needs to be avoided.

"If this safety stand down prevents even the slightest injury or accident from happening, it's always worth it...always," said Lt. Ruh.

Special Warfare officials could not tell me when the last worldwide SEAL stand-down was ordered.

Thursday's safety day was scheduled to last 24 hours and did apply to SEALs deployed to war zones, however, they may have proceeded with necessary missions after having completed some type of safety briefing.
God bless the fallen.

That being said. Our job is dangerous... shit happens. The military is so risk averse these days it sickens me. Leave it up to the NCO's to evaluate the situation and apply further safety constraints, if needed. How many times in SOF's history have men fallen during training? Florida phase of Ranger School 1995 comes to mind. That was horrible, but training continued. Have faith in your men to do the right thing.