Few people have fit more into a life than Don Mann. A
former Navy SEAL team leader who was twice captured by enemy forces and lived
to tell about it, Mann played a crucial role in some of America's most daring
military missions over the past two decades. He trained SEAL Team Six, whose
members killed Osama bin Laden in May of 2011.
Mann is now a New York Times bestselling author (Inside SEAL Team Six: My Life and Missions with America’s Elite
Warriors), an endurance athlete and a mountaineer.
He’s also the
featured speaker for the 98th
annual Marietta Chamber of Commerce
Dinner on Monday (March 11).
WMOA News spoke yesterday with the former member and trainer
of SEAL Team Six. We started by asking Mann: Did you want to be in
Special Forces since childhood or did your life path simply lead you there?
“My father was a World War Two veteran. When Pearl Harbor
was attacked, he and all his siblings and buddies joined the Navy or the Army,
so he instilled a sense of patriotism in me and my siblings. So I knew I was
going to join some service, but it wasn’t until I saw a Navy SEAL movie - it
turned my life around. I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do.”
How much additional training does it take for a sailor to
become a SEAL?
“Once you get through the initial steps of being in the Navy,
and you want to be a SEAL, that’s when things start to get very, very difficult.
That’s another year plus of really challenging, hardcore training. It’s the
most challenging training in the military.”
We asked Mann: When you became a Navy SEAL did you
ever envision a day when you would become a bestselling author?
Not at all. Neither would any of my high school English
teachers. I had some very good help from my co-author, Ralph Pezzullo. He kept
me in line and on track. It was my story and his writing abilities that made it
a best seller.”
Mann says writing a book about special forces and secret
operations presented a unique set of challenges.
“When you leave SEAL Team Six, all those secrets and all
those things everybody wants to know – you leave those in the compound. You
just don’t talk about it. Some publishers offered me a lot of money to talk,
but I turned all these big offers down. It was just the right thing to do.”
“So I said the only way I’ll do a book is if the Navy, the
SEAL teams and the U.S. government approve of everything I send to you. So that
was the agreement. I gathered everything and sent it to the Publication Review
Board for the Navy’s Special Warfare Command. Once they approved it, then it
became the book.”
Mann described the theme of his keynote address on
“It’s called ‘Reaching Beyond Your Limits.’ I have a couple
of stories that happened to me, a couple that happened to other SEALS, and some
other people who did some incredibly challenging things, like mountain climbing
and endurance events. I’ll describe a series of events in which I found that,
with the right mindset, nothing is impossible.”