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Publisher's Summary

Subtitled "Memoirs of a Navy Seal", Captain Robert A. Gormly tells his amazing story as the leader of the US Navy SEALs, taking us into the night, into the water and into battle on some of the most hair-raising missions ever assigned. Rising through the chain of command within the SEALs from platoon leader to commanding officer, Gormly's journey began with a chance meeting on a Virginia beach. Qualifying for the Navy's elite Underwater Demolitions Unit -- the precursor of the SEALs -- Gormly became an expert at underwater reconnaissance and guerrilla-style warfare. As a member of the newly formed SEAL Team Two, Gormly was trained to a fine fighting edge just in time for the war in Vietnam.

The SEALs created a legend that would grow throughout the war -- and earn an enemy bounty for anyone who could capture or kill a US Navy SEAL. But behind the myth and mystique was a remarkable fighting machine, a team of soldiers who knew their job and maintained their discipline in the face of firefighters, ambushes, and missions gone horribly wrong. In Gormly's vivid, gut-wrenching descriptions, the Mekong comes alive, as hours of careful stalking explode into incredible fusillades of violence -- including one in which Gormly's hand was nearly shot off. His unprecedented acts of heorism and daring brought Gormly recognition as well as numerous awards for both the success of his strikes and his ability to bring his men back alive.

In a career that included two tours of duty in Vietnam, as well as top-secret missions in the Persian Gulf, Gormly examines war from a strategic point of view as well as from his own personal experience. With insight and eloquence, he goes on to chronicle SEAL life after Vietnam, including what is perhaps the most graphic description ever of SEAL action in the chaotic invasion of Grenada.

©1998 by Robert A. Gormly; (P)1998 by Blackstone Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"Bob Gormly tells his story with remarkable wit, wisdom, drama, and grace. Combat Swimmer is a superb and fascinating story about the US Navy SEALs, from one of the best of the breed." (Hans Halberstadt, author of Inside the US Navy SEALs)

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  • Overall

Combat Swimmer

This book provides a somewhat interesting insight into US Navy UDT and SEAL operations prior to and throughout the Vietnam War era. The author paints a self-portrait of a brave, physically and mentally hardened Navy SEAL Officer. He considers himself the best of the best and understandably so. However, his career and tactical abilities are relatively unimpressive. Throughout each chapter listeners anxiously await the moment of revelation and fulfillment but instead find themselves being strung along from one indecisive story to the next. The author did not seize the opportunity to provide a unique view of Navy SEAL operations and life in the Teams. And although the book is more than a footnote for the era, most readers will not find the "bang for the buck" they expect. This book is more suited to those specifically interested in the evolution of SEAL Teams and Special Warfare.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jon
  • Tempe, AZ, USA
  • 07-18-06

Overall, a good choice

This was the first audiobook I've ever purchased and not a bad introduction at all. I'm no stranger to the genre, however. Go into it expecting the memoir that it is, not an edge-of-your-seat thriller or a technical readout of SEAL equipment. It was an intelligently written story worth telling, especially to provide additional perspective on significant American military events of the late 20th century, such as our attack on Grenada.

I found the author's tone positive, humble, very respectful, and extremely professional-surely a credit to the field in which the author has spent a distinguished career. This was certainly admirable, given the material about Marcinko. Indeed a refreshing perspective for fans of the genre.

Contrary to another listener's perspective, I was satisfied with the amount of material devoted to the author's experience at BUD/S, as that can be found anywhere, and more graphically.

I gave it three out of five stars, for two reasons. First, as noted, the narration was truly disappointing. This guy not only lacked the 'tough guy voice' that admittedly would have helped, he sounded like he should be reading ‘Crochet Monthly’ in a comfortable sweater, right after his manicure and vanilla latte with extra whip cream. This guy was the WRONG choice, which severely betrayed the subject matter. Not only that, he was just plain boring. He, not the story, made me laugh several times. Second, while it was a very satisfying book, it was simply not something I couldn't put down. Gormly's perspective on what America did wrong in Vietnam was a strong point, lucid, concise and probably very accurate. I enjoyed his perspective, as I have yet to come across another so digestible. Yet it was this very opining that left a bad taste in my mouth at the end. His political analysis of America's future problems was mundane, repetitive, and should be pretty obvious to the average news-watching citizen during the last twenty years.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Beth
  • Frederick, MD, USA
  • 12-17-04

Leadership lessons applicable to all . . .

Outstanding listening!!!! It?s like riding a roller coaster. Turns, twists and excitement is felt within the first 10 minutes. However, once the ride is over, you better understand what it means to lead people in trying times. Combat Swimmer is an excellent story. Its also a wonderful lesson on leading people. Great Writing!!!!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Aaron
  • Salt Lake City, UT, United States
  • 09-03-11

Buy the book

This is the first audiobook that I've purchased and didn't finish, which is unfortunate because it's a very good story. The narrator is horrible and ruined the purchase.

  • Overall

Not a bad read

Although some parts should have begun in the Navy tradition of all "sea stories" ("Honest, this is no ____ "), the book kept me interested. It was reasonably true to the events, and bravado aside, was a good first hand perspective.

  • Overall

Good Book...

Grenada account is very interesting. What a life this guy had! Gormly also appears and is mentioned in the book Kill Bin Laden by Dalton Fury. Just a testament to how deeply important to the Special Forces in general Gormly was. He is truly an accomplished "operator". The Vietnam accounts were the best part of this book in my opinion.

  • Overall
  • Michael
  • santa ana, CA, USA
  • 10-16-07


I found the book to be interesting and follows alot of stories I heard first hand from operators. I would have liked a little more details relating to the actually strikes.

  • Overall
  • Mark
  • 08-31-06

Not much fight in this book

Not the book you want to read if you want to hear tales of non stop action about the intensive close quarter conflicts that the navy seals are renowned for. You will enjoy this book if you want some action and want to learn about the ins and outs of the navy seal fight for funding and recognition as a viable and finely tuned fighting unit from Vietnam through the conflicts in the middle east.

  • Overall

Good listen

This was an excellent book about UDT and SEALS despite the poor narration. Besides mispronunciations, noises in the background, and a rather dull reading voice it still managed to be a good book. This is an interesting counter-point to Richard Marcinko's accounts on the same subject.

  • Overall

Great Book and ahead of it's time

Highly enjoyable, yet predictable read until you get to the author's recommendations at the end and in particular his predictions of the greatest threats to the USA. This was released in 1998! It reads like the 9/11 Commission Report. Chilling!