By lex, on January 4th, 2009
Roy Boehm passed into the clearing at the end of the path Tuesday night. He was 84 years old.
Boehm had served his country in three wars, including service in the largest surface-only engagement of World War II, the Battle of Cape Esperance. His ship – the USS Duncan – took multiple hits from 6″ and 8″ guns before going under the waves. Although wounded by shrapnel in his head and body, he managed to save another shipmate before the ship went down. While in the ocean he was forced to fight sharks off for his own life. For 13 hours.
Re-enlisting for the Korean War, his ship provided fires ashore in support of the Marine Corps’ amphibious assault on Inchon, and also covered the withdrawal from the Chosin Reservoir. After his commissioning, he developed and implemented an unconventional warfare naval commando force known, respected and feared throughout the world: The US Navy SEALs. He was the first Officer-in-Charge of SEAL Team 2. He drove his team hard, and drove himself harder.
Boehm fought more than our country’s enemies, he fought an entrenched naval bureaucracy that had no notion of unconventional warfare, facing five separate Boards of Inquiries for his tendency to circumvent formal processes to get better gear to his warriors expeditiously. It took presidential intervention to get the brass to back off. He was “mission first, people always” before it became a platitude. When he retired as a Mustang lieutenant, his sailors gave him a plaque engraved “Man-O-Warsman” – he accepted no higher honor. In retirement he learned to fly.
He wanted no fanfare at his passing. Fair enough. Still the bugles. Muffle the drums. We can still give an old warrior a silent salute.