Killer SEALs

“The United States Navy SEALs are generally acknowledged to be among the military’s most elite special operations units, arduously selected and trained for missions in the most extreme and pressing circumstances. It’s not surprising then that the SEALs were selected to perform the risky operation that ended with the killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on Sunday, May 1.

In addition to their efficiency and bravery, SEALs are known for their secrecy. The general public rarely is afforded the chance to peek behind the curtain, to observe the SEALs in preparation or in action. It was thus a particularly rare opportunity that Stephanie Freid-Perenchio received permission from Vice Adm. Robert Harward to photograph Navy SEALs in training, gaining unparalleled access. The following photos — selections from her book SEAL: The Unspoken Sacrifice — are a testimony to the personal commitment and camaraderie of a elite military team that all-too-often works only in the shadows.”

Anyone who wishes to join the SEALs must begin with BUDs training (basic underwater demolition). Eighty percent of the troops who volunteer to begin the six-week training course fail to finish it. © Stephanie Freid-Perenchio
















Prospective SEALs split up into multiple groups at the BUDs training in Coronado, California in order to practice underwater survival techniques. © Stephanie Freid-Perenchio
















At annual winter SEAL qualification training, troops are flown to Kodiak, Alaska, and given an ambitious mission to perform over the course of several days. © Stephanie Freid-Perenchio
















SEALs perform target practice with M16 assault rifles at a shooting range on San Clemente Island, California. © Stephanie Freid-Perenchio
















Left, troops practicing high-speed rope-climbing -- a particularly important skill for SEALs. Right, SEALs train at "fast-roping," descending from a helicopter using only a rope. This is the most dangerous drill that SEALs perform. © Stephanie Freid-Perenchio
















A child waiting at an Air Force base in California for his father -- a SEAL deployed to Afghanistan -- to return home. © Stephanie Freid-Perenchio





































Stephanie Freid-Perenchio is a documentary photographer. Her studio, SFPstudio, is located in Sunvalley, Idaho. These photos are excerpted from the book “SEAL: The Unspoken Sacrifice” by Stephanie Freid-Perenchio and Jennifer Walton. For more information or to purchase the book, go to

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