Beginning in the summer of 1942, an extraordinary group of men—among them a dentist, a Hollywood movie star, an archaeologist, California surfers, and even former enemies of the Allies—united to form an exceptional unit that would forge the capabilities of the Navy’s Sea, Air, and Land (SEAL) Teams. Known as the Maritime Unit, it comprised America’s first swimmer-commandos, an elite breed of warrior-spies who were decades ahead of their time when they created the tactics, technology, and philosophy that inspire today’s Navy SEALs.
The pioneering men of the Maritime Unit conducted some of the most daring operations behind enemy lines and even survived one of the Third Reich’s infamous concentration camps. But after the war, their astonishing record of activity and achievement was classified, lost, and largely forgotten...until now. In First SEALs, Patrick K. O’Donnell unearths their incredible history—one of the greatest untold stories of World War II.