(WASHINGTON) — The world will probably never find out which Navy SEALs rescued two aid workers in Somalia, or who fired the shot that killed Osama bin Laden in May 2011.
As part of the elite force that takes on the world’s most dangerous assignments and took down the world’s most wanted terrorist, members of SEAL Team Six are never identified, according to standard procedure, and don’t seek personal fame.
American Jessica Buchanan and Danish citizen Poul Hagen Thisted were rescued Tuesday night by a team of SEALs in a raid near Gadaado, Somalia. Buchanan, 32, and Thisted, 60, had been held for three months after being captured by a band of Somalis in October.
So what do we know about the Navy SEALs whose operation involved parachuting into the area and engaging in a firefight with the Somali kidnappers? We know that it was an all-male rescue team, because all SEALs are men.
The average Navy SEAL is about 30 years old, with a bachelors and possibly a masters degree. He is most likely white and may have a wife and children, and is no doubt in perfect physical shape. Top-tier operators, as they’re also known, are sometimes described as, without irony, warrior-athletes.
“They have gazelle legs, no waist and a huge upper body configuration and almost a mental block that says, ‘I will not fail,'” said Richard Marcinko, the retired Navy SEAL commander who created the elite Team Six in 1980.
But he is also most likely hiding beneath a slightly disheveled exterior. Unlike other Navy SEALs, the members of SEAL Team Six most likely do not appear as clean cut. He probably uses “modified grooming standards” including a beard and longer hair designed to help him blend in when operating overseas.
Despite their nerves of steel and their real-life-action-movie day jobs, the men are nearly always unassuming. “If you’ve never met a Navy SEAL and you ran into one at a bar, you probably still wouldn’t know he’s a Navy SEAL,” said former SEAL member Howard Wasdin.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Tom Kludt, CNN
Laura Goehler, CNN
Ellie Kaufman and Rene Marsh, CNN
Laura Smith-Spark, Erin McLaughlin and Nina dos Santos, CNN