The Daunting Six Days of Winter SEAL Training (1974-1975): The Personal Report of a Graduate, Dr. Robert Adams

A close reading of Dr. Robert Adams’ 2017 book will, if we are honest, challenge all of us to the depths. For sure, it will inform usand inspire us with its vividnessabout many important, but still little known, things concerning one of the major branches of the profession of arms: that is, the United States Navy’s own Naval Commandos, or Navy SEALs. The SEALs were first founded only in 1962, as a strategic expansion of the Navy’s more limited (and heroically famous) Under Water Demolitions Teams (“the Frogmen”); and the new SEAL concept and missions designedly operating also “beyond the high tide mark” along various coastal areas of the world. These new Teams of SEALs, unlike the UDT (Underwater Demolition Teams) historically, had to be prepared to operate more widely and resourcefully in all three challenging environments: sea, land, and air (as in HALO parachute training and various infiltration operations). With this larger framing context being now established, we may better appreciate how Robert Adams’ admirable focus on one six-day portion of a SEAL’s protracted and very demanding basic training: namely the Six Days of Hell Week, which is a midway part of the First Phase, and further builds upon the longer preparatory phase.

The carefully chosen full title of Dr. Adams’ lucid book, slightly more than 200-pages, is Six Days of Impossible: Navy Seal Hell Week—a Doctor Looks Back. (2017). For, then-Ensign Robert Adams is himself a fully qualified graduate of SEAL training who thus earned the cherished SEAL Trident Badge in Class 81, that formidable class that also endured the winter of 1974-1975, as well as the famous SEAL Petty Officer First Class, Michael Thornton himself! Indeed, as that especially challenging Mike Thornton was to sayas himself a 1972 Recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor: “This [BUD/S Class 81] was the best SEAL class I ever put through training.”

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