Being a Navy SEAL is about pride and honor and for years that tradition lives. This list contains information about famous Navy SEALs who become very popular and well-known in society. Many famous U.S. Navy SEALs became well-known through combat operations, while many others have also gone on to successful careers in politics, entertainment, and even space exploration after they have finished their military careers.
Among the most respected and feared warriors on the planet in the modern era, Navy SEALs are trained for the Sea, Air, and Land operations. Just to become a Navy SEAL, you need to complete what is widely considered as the toughest military training in the world.
10. Eric T. Olson
He was the first Navy SEAL to be appointed to three-star and four-star flag rank, as well as the first naval officer to be USSOCOM’s combatant commander. Admiral Eric Thor Olson was in charge of the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) from 2007 to 2011.
Olson graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1973 and qualified as a Naval Special Warfare (SEAL) officer in 1974. He graduated in BUD/S Class 76. He has served operationally in an Underwater Demolition Team, SEAL Team, SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team, Special Boat Squadron, and at the Naval Special Warfare Development Group. He has commanded at every level.
Eric T. Olson retired from active duty on August 22, 2011, after he spent more than 38 years in service.
BUD/S Class: 76
9. Michael A. Monsoor
Michael A. Monsoor is the American hero and a Navy SEAL who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his ultimate sacrifice in Ramadi, Iraq. Monsoor used his own body to shield his fellow soldiers from a hand grenade thrown by an insurgent in a 2006 combat engagement.
He enlisted in the US Navy in 2001 and graduated from Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training BUD/S class 250 in 2004. After further training, he was assigned to Delta Platoon, SEAL Team 3.
BUD/S class: 250
8. Scott Helvenston
He joined the United States Navy at 17 and became the youngest person to complete Navy SEAL training. Working the private sector, he appeared on a variety of reality TV programs and was a personal trainer for Hollywood celebrities such as Demi Moore (for G.I. Jane). Helvenston was also featured in the reality shows Combat Missions and Man vs. Beast (in the latter, he completed an obstacle course faster than a chimpanzee). He also starred in a reality series called Extreme Expeditions: Model Behavior months before he left for Iraq.
Helvenston was killed in Fallujah, Iraq along with squad members Jerry “Jerko” Zovko, Wesley Batalona and Michael Teague while working as a security contractor for Blackwater. His death was part of the infamous incident in 2004 which sparked international shock and outrage.
BUD/S class: not known (1982)
7. Chuck Pfarrer
Charles Patrick “Chuck” Pfarrer, III is a former U.S. Navy SEAL from Biloxi, Mississippi, USA. He became an author, novelist, and screenwriter after he left the Navy. Some of his screenwriting credits include Darkman, Hard Target, Red Planet, and, of course, Navy SEALs.
BUD/S class: not known (1981)
6. William H. McRaven
From 2011 to 2014, Navy SEAL William H. McRaven served as Commander of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), which oversees the Special Operations of the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps.
The most recognizable operation of his career probably was Operation Neptune Spear. He is credited with organizing and overseeing the execution of the operation, the special ops raid that led to the death of Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011.
Admiral McRaven retired from the Navy on August 28, 2014, after more than 37 years of service.
BUD/S class: not known (1977)
5. Marcus Luttrell
Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell was the only man to survive from the four-man Special Reconnaissance element with SDV-1 in Operation Red Wing in June 2005. He detailed his harrowing Afghanistan combat experience in best-selling book Lone Survivor. The book was later turned into a hit film with Mark Wahlberg playing Luttrell.
For his actions during Operation Red Wings, he was awarded the Navy Cross and Purple Heart. Marcus Luttrell was a Hospital Corpsman First Class by the end of his eight-year career in the United States Navy.
BUD/S class: 226 (1999)
4. William Shepherd
William McMichael “Bill” Shepherd is an American former Navy SEAL, aerospace, ocean and mechanical engineer, and NASA astronaut, who served as Commander of Expedition 1, the first crew on the International Space Station.
NASA astronaut William Shepherd qualified to become a Navy SEAL in 1972 after finishing BUD/S, serving on the UDT, two separate SEAL teams, and Special Boat Unit TWENTY.
He is also a recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
BUD/S class: not known (1972)
3. Rudy Boesch
Survivor contestant Rudy Boesch was one of the very first Navy SEALs. He earned a Bronze Star for his actions in the Vietnam War, during which he participated in 45 combat missions, including raids, ambushes, rescues, and intelligence operations.
During his time in SEAL Team Two and later, his results were set as physical and operational standards for the team.
After 45 years of continuous service, Boesch retired from the US Navy in 1990 as a Master Chief Petty Officer.
BUD/S class: UDT Frogman in 1951
2. Chris Kyle
Chris Kyle became the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history over four tours in Iraq as a Navy SEAL. Before he was killed in Texas, he co-wrote American Sniper, a bestselling account of his exploits which ultimately led to Hollywood where it served as the basis for the box office powerhouse that starred Bradley Cooper as Kyle in blockbuster American Sniper.
He was awarded several commendations for acts of heroism and meritorious service in combat including one Silver Star Medal, four Bronze Star Medals with “V” devices, a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and numerous other unit and personal awards.
On February 2, 2013, Kyle and his friend, Chad Littlefield, 35, were shot and killed by Eddie Ray Routh at the Rough Creek Ranch-Lodge-Resort shooting range in Erath County, Texas. Their killer, Eddie Ray Routh was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
BUD/S class: not known (1999)
1. Jesse Ventura
Born as James George Janos but better known by his stage name Jesse Ventura is a former professional wrestler, Predator supporting player, television personality, and former Minnesota Governor which served in US Navy’s Underwater Demolition Team during the Vietnam War. UDT soldiers were eventually retasked as Navy SEALs in the 1980s.
He served as the 38th Governor of Minnesota from January 4, 1999 – January 6, 2003.
BUD/S class: 58 (1970)