Richard Marcinko, a legendary military figure known for leading SEAL Team 6 when the covert special operations unit was in its infancy, died Saturday, according to his son and the National Museum of the Navy SEALs. He was 81 years old.
“Last night Christmas night, we lost a hero, who is also known as ‘The Rogue Warrior,’ the retired commander of the Navy SEALs and the creator of SEAL Team 6, my father, Richard Marcinko,” wrote Matt Marcinko in a tweet on Sunday.
“His legacy will live forever. The man has died a true legend.”
Richard Marcinko, a combat veteran of the Vietnam War, was the first commanding officer of SEAL Team 6, the secret unit formed in 1980 that would later carry out the operation that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011.
Marcinko designed and organized SEAL Team 6 after the failed hostage rescue attempt in Iran during the Jimmy Carter administration, according to a social media post from the Navy SEAL Museum.
After his retirement from the Navy in 1989, Marcinko became an author, public speaker and consultant, according to The New York Times. But he was also a controversial figure, having been convicted of military contract fraud, the Times said.
In today’s Army, many consider him a rogue operator, according to the Times. He is also considered a “leading counterterrorism operator,” as described by the SEAL Museum, which is not connected to the US military, in a statement Sunday.
The museum, which called him “Demo Dick,” said he led SEAL Team 6 from August 1980 to July 1983.
“At the time, the Navy had only two SEAL teams. Marcinko appointed the unit ‘SEAL Team SIX’ to mislead other countries, particularly the Soviet Union, into believing that the United States had at least three other SEAL teams of the they didn’t know, “the museum said, adding that Marcinko” hand-selected team members from existing SEAL teams and underwater demolition teams.”