PUNTA GORDA — Roy Boehm, who helped start the U.S. Navy’s first SEAL team, has died. He was 84.
Boehm, a retired U.S. Navy lieutenant commander, died at his southwest Florida home Dec. 30, his son, Robert Boehm, said.
“He was a true patriot, he was what you called a man’s man,” the younger Boehm said. “He always put his country first.”
Lt. Nathan Potter, Deputy Public Affairs Officer for Naval Special Warfare Command, said though Navy does not officially recognize a first SEAL, Boehm was the first officer in charge of one of the original teams.
“Naval Special Warfare’s thoughts go out now to Lt. Commander Roy Boehm and his family,” Potter said. “He served honorably for 30 years in the Navy and we thank him for his service to his nation.”
The Navy’s elite unit — whose name stands for Sea, Air and Land forces — are deployed for operations such as reconnaissance missions and unconventional warfare. Boehm, who fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, helped assemble the first SEAL team during the 1960s. He eventually chronicled his experiences in his book, “First SEAL.”
“He’s the founding father,” said Terry Lynn, director of the Charlotte County Veterans Council. “So there’s not a Navy SEAL, I think, that doesn’t know his name. He is to the Navy SEALs what George Washington is to the United States.”
He is survived by his wife and four children. He was preceded in death by a son.