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.
Above, a training exercise in the Pacific Ocean, outside San Diego, California. SEALs must leap out of an airplane, parachute into the ocean, and then swim to the boat waiting in the distance.
© Stephanie Freid-Perenchio