Richard Marcinko was born on Nov. 21, 1940, to George Marcinko and Emilie Teresa Pavlik Marcinko in his grandmother’s house in Lansford, Pa., a tiny mining town. In his autobiography, he described his mother as “short and Slavic looking” and his father as dark and brooding, with a “nasty temper.”
All the men in the family, Commander Marcinko wrote, were miners: “They were born, they worked the mines, they died. Life was simple and life was hard, and I guess some of them might have wanted to pull themselves up by the bootstraps, but most were too poor to buy boots.”
He dropped out of high school and enlisted in the Navy in 1958. He was deployed to Vietnam with SEAL Team 2 in 1967, according to the National Navy SEAL Museum, which announced the death on its Facebook page.
Commander Marcinko received many honors for his service, including four Bronze Stars, a Silver Star and a Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, according to the museum. After completing two tours in Vietnam, he was promoted to lieutenant commander and then took the reins of SEAL Team 2 from 1974 to 1976.
In addition to his son Ritchie, Commander Marcinko is survived by his wife, Nancy; four daughters, Brandy Alexander, Tiffany Alexander, Hailey Marcinko and Kathy-Ann Marcinko; another son, Matthew; and several grandchildren. His marriage to Kathy Black ended in divorce.
On Sunday night, Admiral McRaven called Commander Marcinko “one of the more colorful characters” in Naval special warfare history.
“While we had some disagreements when I was a young officer, I always respected his boldness, his ingenuity and his unrelenting drive for success,” Admiral McRaven wrote in an email. “I hope he will be remembered for his numerous contributions to the SEAL community.”
Dave Philipps contributed reporting.