Sunday, June 23, 2024

CHA Holds Second Event in the Exciting Two-Part SEAL Series

The Coronado Historical Association (CHA) hosted the finale of the Navy SEAL discussions during its latest installment in the popular Wine & Lecture series. CHA’s Wine & Lecture series covers a diverse set of historical topics related or important to the Coronado and greater San Diego area. Each month CHA will host an author or expert in their field to give a talk in our historic building’s lecture hall. These talks are always preceded by a lovely wine and cheese reception where the public has a chance to mingle with the speaker(s). The event that took place on the evening of Thursday, April 18 was a special one.

SEAL Team 3&5 Discussion Panel. Panelists from left to right – CAPT Joey Snelgrove, USN; Force Master Chief Walter “Ditti” Ditmar, USN; Mrs. Jackie Perry; CAPT Todd Perry, USN (Ret); and moderator CAPT Dan’l Steward, USN (Ret).

The idea for organizing this two-part series was birthed as a tribute to the 62nd anniversary of the U.S. Navy SEALs which was celebrated in 2023. “As the planning process began, we quickly realized the need to devote two entire lectures to this topic,” said Interim Executive Director Vickie Stone. The story of the history of this legendary fighting force was too much to cover in an hour and the decision was made to host the first program in the fall of 2023 which covered the history of UDTs and Frogmen as well as SEAL Teams 1 and 2 up to the 1980s. The second program in April covered SEAL Teams 3 and 5, telling the story from the 1980s to the present. Despite breaking the topics into two lectures, both events went longer than the typical hour as the audience enthusiastically had more questions. The atmosphere in the building was electric.

CAPT Todd Perry, USN (Ret) explains how SEAL training has changed and remained the same over the years.

For this latest event on April 18, the panel included a mixture of retired officers, a SEAL wife, as well as two active servicemen who are in SEAL leadership today. The panel was skillfully led by moderator, CAPT Dan’l Steward, USN (Ret). CAPT Steward did a fabulous job navigating historical topics and posing questions to the appropriate panelists to give the audience the best understanding of these storied teams. After the smash success last fall, CHA began preparing for April’s panel with CAPT Steward right away. This time the panel included CAPT Todd Perry, USN (Ret), his wife Mrs. Jackie Perry, Force Master Chief Walter “Ditti” Ditmar, and CDR Joey Snelgrove. The combination of retired experts as well as leadership from the present force and Naval Special Warfare Command presented community members a window into how things used to be and how things have changed, or in some cases may be the same today. For example, when you see trainees carrying logs during the crucible of “Hell Week,” CAPT Perry explained, this exercise rose out of a very real need in the ‘40s. Exercises like this are now traditions that have stood the test of time that anyone who bears the achievement of becoming a SEAL has to overcome.

Force Master Chief Walter “Ditti” Ditmar, USN describes the current structure of SEAL leadership.

There were of course moments where the Master Chief Ditmar and Commander Snelgrove could not go into complete detail. These two are at the forefront of protecting our country today, and naturally some of that information is too sensitive to talk about to a public audience. Even so, they were still able to share fascinating details on the types of strategies and missions SEALs engage in to protect national security today. The audience was left with a feeling of awe for the effort and sacrifice that goes into these individuals’ service.

CAPT Joey Snelgrove, USN explains the types of operations that his team engages in.

This sentiment was not just reserved for the men on the panel in uniform. Self-described “SEAL Wife,” Mrs. Perry, was able to express the range of emotions that come along with being married to a “Team guy.” There would be months on end when Mrs. Perry would not know where or what her husband was up to and that was while raising children in a country far from her home and relatives. However, the pride in what her family and her husband accomplished together was obvious. She even responded to one guest’s question, “if your partner or child wants to become a SEAL, you just have to support them,” while still acknowledging the immense sacrifice and fear for your loved one’s safety that goes along with it.

Mrs. Jackie Perry explains the experience of a SEAL spouse.

CAPT Perry and Mrs. Perry’s own son took center stage at the beginning of the night. An accomplished guitarist, Craig Perry played a wonderful rendition of the National Anthem to kick off the proceedings. His finger-picking style on acoustic guitar was a beautiful touch that left a great impression on all who had the privilege of being in the room.

The Coronado Historical Association proudly hosted this event on a topic that never fails to draw a lot of attention. The tickets for this event sold out months ago. CHA always recommends visiting their website at coronadohistory.org to see the upcoming events and reserve your place before they sell out. You can also book your spot at any event by calling 619-435-7242 or stopping by the CHA Museum at 1100 Orange Avenue.

 



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