Special Warfare – Special Man
by Toni Flynn
Photo on left - Frank Flynn in wetsuit
above - l to r, Captain Norman Olson, Frank Flynn,
Franklin Delano Flynn DNC, USN, Ret. Was a legend in the Teams, a UDT-SEAL pioneer whose career spanned a broad scope of what the Teams are all about today. He was a zealous man with the tenacity to get the job done and with the best results. His smile and the leprechaun twinkle in his eye made a lasting impression. No matter what needed to be fixed, experimented on, located, saved, freed, captured or fought for he was first in line to volunteer and give total commitment to his teammates and the Teams.
After an honorable discharge
fro the National Guard (because he was underage) Frank joined the Navy as soon
as he was old enough. After boot camp he served first on the USS Essex, then on
the Bexar (
At a change of command ceremony a Captain asked Frank if he was happy aboard the Bexar. He replied, “No sir, I’ve put in several chits for UDT training and have had no response.” The Captain looked him in the eye and said, “Son, put one more in tomorrow morning,” and walked away. Frank did not know he had just talked to Captain (later Admiral) Draper Kauffman, known as the father of UDT.
Two weeks later Frank, along with three shipmates, received his orders to UDT training. They entered Class 19 in Coronado, arguably one of the best classes ever convened. It had one of the lowest dropout rates and produced some outstanding future operators. Upon graduation Frank reported to UDT 11.
During the first nine years of his career Frank was involved with research, development, testing, and evaluation (RDT&E) and the swimmer delivery vehicle (SDV) program. Many of his hardware designs are still in use in today’s fleet equipment. Approximately eight different SDV’s were developed in an effort to improve the methods of transporting assault swimmers.
At the 1996 ceremony for today’s Gator class SDV Frank would look back with awe and pride. He had helped to make the program from the free-flooding Seahorse to today’s Gator class.
Frank was also involved in the Sea Lab II project, making one of the first 220-foot free dives using mixed gas. He was involved in the RDT&E of experimental SCUBA diving gear, including the Pirelli, Draeger, Emerson, Mark V, Mark VI and Mark VI HE02.
In 1965 Frank reported to SEAL Team One and
in subsequent deployments to
Frank fought for equipment and medical treatment for his PRU’s. As on PRU rep wrote “Mr. Flynn’s contributions and advice caused the unit to become a family working together and built it to the top of the list of the whole Four Corps.” Loved and respected by his PRU’s, they completed an unbelievable number of successful operations.
The Kit Carson Scouts were former Viet Cong who turned against the VC and now operated with American advisors against the VC. When Steve Frisk joined Frank as a co-advisor of the Kit Carson Scouts Captain Dave Schaible commented, “First I sent the bear, then the tiger.”
In a letter to Frank after he had returned
Frank completed his tour of duty with the Teams as chief liaison officer between the Navy and NASA on the Skylab mission. He, along with nine other SEALs, helped to train astronauts in neutral buoyancy for the Skylab mission.
One of his last operations at
Frank would fight the greatest challenge of
his life beginning in June 1995 when he was diagnosed with larynx cancer. He
Remembering Frank Flynn, Barry Enoch wrote, “How do we remember our teammate today/” Can you see Frank Flynn with only a grin that could come from his face? Can you see him answer his last order as he rolls over the main tube into the dark waters for the last time? Can you see him? Now he has crossed the bar and stands on the beach on the other side. Frank Flynn is in good hands as he joins the ranks of Frogs and SEALs who have gone before him. There they stand in gallant ranks. Can you see them now? Can you see Frank?
Frank was a true pioneer within the Special
Warfare Community. Few have equaled his contributions to the Teams and our
country. He is buried close to Admiral Irve C. LeMoyne, Frank’s super SEAL, his hero, in
Who Was Frank Flynn?
by CDR Franklin W. Anderson, 1997
To many people he represented many things; a loving father, husband, and dependable TEAMMATE.
Frank wasn’t an ordinary man; he was extra-ordinary in every way. I first met Frank a few months shy of 40 years ago. He was in UDTRA Class 19, and later was assigned to UDT-11. Class 19 was a vintage Class with some outstanding members that served UDT for extended periods and contributed immensely to the long range benefit of the Navy and the Teams. --- A. J. D’errico, Lepage, Petty, Goodman, Roy Adams, Sanasac, Red Fisher, Cathcart, Nelson, Callahan, Orrick, Willets, Smith, Couture, and numerous others.
Shortly after coming to UDT-11 Frank and Red
Fisher volunteered for a Static Display in
Shortly after returning from a WESTPAC
deployment, a practice sneak attack using Pirellies
was scheduled off Yellow 1, in early 1959. A chaotic night with numerous
incidents occurred. First Bill Berry had an attack of oxygen poisoning from
swimming too deep and we had just recovered him when another flare went off and
Chief Massey had Frank on the surface. Frank had a CO2 buildup and we rushed
him to the beach. Calvin Lockard was the coxswain of
the LCPR, and when we hit the first sand bar,
Frank’s attitude was always positive
and a morale builder for his teammates. He always gave that extra effort on any
job. In 1960 on a WESTPAC deployment (DET LIMA) we were directed to survey 21
miles of beaches on
Later, Frank was on a detachment aboard the
These incidents never deterred Frank from his motivation toward his duties.
Frank came to SEAL
The SDV program under Ken Specht was getting into full swing and a nucleus of
outstanding people being assembled for the project – such as Lonnie
Price, Frank Goerlich,
To summarize – Frank Flynn was not an
ordinary man – so SEAL is ordinary, but Frank was at the top. We all
trusted him and cherished him for his dedication. We are proud to call him and
Tony friends and Teammates. GOD BLESS YOU