One of the great things about having SOFREP.com is that the editors and I have a chance to archive and share some amazing stories about SOF Operators that would otherwise go untold. We have also created a great community in SOFREP.com itself that includes intelligent, hardworking people from all different racial, religious, and political backgrounds. If there is one common bond we all share, it’s that we care about this country and the men and women who serve. Occasionally, we also get to help out a family, cause, or brother in need. Now is one of those times.

I want to introduce Gary Welt. As a 30-year Master Chief, he spent the better part of his life serving his country at the tip of the spear. Gary is a renowned SEAL operator – as well-known and well-respected amongst his peers as any man who has ever served in the SEAL Teams. Everybody knows “Doc” Welt.

Gary recently developed Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also referred to as motor neuron disease and commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease in the United States. It is a debilitating disease with varied etiology characterized by rapidly progressive weakness, muscle atrophy and fasciculations, muscle spasticity, difficulty speaking (dysarthria), difficulty swallowing (dysphagia), and difficulty breathing (dyspnea). ALS is the most common of the five motor neuron diseases.

Gary’s not the type of guy to brag, but I feel it is important to share just a snapshot of his qualifications with you from over his thirty years of service:

NEC’s/MOS’s (These acronyms are military speak for job qualifications):

  • 5326 – Combatant Swimmer/SEAL (26 years)
  • 8491 – Special Operations Independent Duty Corpsman (16 years)
  • SF18D – Special Forces Medical Sergeant (16 years)
  • 9502 – Navy Instructor/Master Training Specialist (20 Years)

Operational Qualifications:

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  • Combatant Swimmer/SEAL
  • SOIDC & Advanced Tactical Practitioner
  • Advanced Explosive Applications
  • Target Analysis
  • Military Static Line/Free Fall Parachutist
  • Demolition/Explosives Handler
  • Current National Registry & former VA State EMT-Paramedic

Special Qualifications:

  • Land Warfare Tactics, Demolition & Weapons Master Trainer
  • Reconnaissance & Surveillance Instructor
  • Range Safety Officer/ Range Officer-in-Charge for:
    • Static Small Arms
    • Dynamic Fire & Maneuver
    • Close Quarter Combat
    • Basic & Advanced Demolitions
    • Heavy Weapons & Indirect Fires
    • Explosive & Mechanical Breeching
  • Military Free Fall, HALO, HAHO & Static Line Jump Master
  • HRST/VBSS Instructor
  • Navy Diving Supervisor, Open & Closed Circuit
  • Navy Master Training Specialist
  • Innovative realistic reactive target designer

Awards: Legion of Merit Meritorious Service Medal Joint Service Commendation Medal (2) Navy Commendation Medal (2) Army Commendation Medal (3) Navy Achievement Medal (3) Army Achievement Medal (2) Combat Action Ribbon (2) Joint Meritorious Unit Award (2) Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation Navy Battle “E” Award Good Conduct Medal (7) National Defense Service Medal Afghanistan Campaign Medal Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal Global War on Terror Service Medal Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal Armed Forces Service Medal Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (7) Navy Arctic Service Ribbon Navy & Marine Corps Overseas Deployment Ribbon (4) NATO Medal Expert Rifle Medal Expert Pistol Medal

COMPTUEX '98

How Gary has Touched a Few of His Teammates’ Lives Throughout the Years

“Showing up as an FNG to a SEAL Team fresh off the battlefield was, let’s just say… interesting. It was far from a warm welcome, and the lessons came hard and often. I remember walking down the hall upon arrival and getting one dirty look after another from dudes that looked like they had just popped straight out of a Tom Clancy novel. Sam Elliott mustaches, goatees, and hair that rolled over their collars seemed to be standard issue at the Team, as were the non-conforming grooming standard waivers that accompanied them. Another thing that was obvious about these guys was that they all had the Thousand Yard Stare. I didn’t… not yet anyway, and I was a fish out of water. I felt like a steak that had just been thrown to a pack of wolves. It wasn’t that the guys didn’t like me, but as a new guy, they didn’t know me, and more importantly, I had not yet earned their trust or respect. Little did I know at the time, but making it through training simply meant that I had been given an opportunity for a shot at earning my place amongst these warriors. They would decide if I deserved to be there, they would pin the Trident on my chest… if I earned it, and nothing was guaranteed.”

“Gary was one of those men. He was one of the most knowledgeable and influential of those who trained and taught me to be a SEAL in those early days. Gary is a tough-as-nails SEAL who holds himself to a very high standard, and he held those in his charge to that same standard. Those early years at Team Four, learning from guys like Gary and others, were the foundation for my career as a Team Guy, and I owe more to Gary than I could ever repay, or he could ever know. I took the lessons I learned from those guys, and I carved out what ended up being a very successful 25-year career in the Teams, and I want to publically thank Gary for his part in that. When I found out Gary had been diagnosed with ALS I was crushed, and I knew I had to reach out to him and see if there was anything I could do to help. That is what we do, we take care of our brothers, and we are there for them when they need us to be. I learned that from guys like Gary, and I am hopeful that those of you reading this are willing to do the same. Gary served his country with honor and distinction for 30 years as an Active Duty Navy SEAL, and he continued to serve and fight in the Global War on Terror after he retired, as a civilian, right up until he was diagnosed with ALS. Men like Gary Welt are the reason Americans can sleep peacefully in their beds at night. He is a warrior in the truest sense of the word, and I am honored to have served with him, and even more honored to call him a brother.”

Wayne Stansel

“I first met Gary, if you can call it a meeting, hanging from a pull-up bar post Hell-Week at BUDs. He stepped out of the First Phase office and proceeded to walk the line of hanging students; condemning all those who were doing a poor job of taking care of wounds sustained during Hell-Week, including me. I would next see Gary when he was assigned to Seal Team Four and then deployed to Unit Eight in Panama. It is at that time that I really got to know Gary. The wealth of knowledge he possessed, as well as the professionalism that he demonstrated, epitomized the frogman persona. I have been incredibly fortunate over the years, because I was shaped and forged in a way that is difficult to describe to those who have not experienced it. The only way to truly lead men is to lead by example. Gary set that standard high and it left an indelible mark on me. As our paths separated, we stayed in touch periodically. I am so very proud of the work Gary accomplished to develop the casualty combat care that we currently know. While he was but one of many, I know Gary, and I know how involved he was and how instrumental the program was in saving so many lives on the battlefield. I stand on the shoulders of great men, and Gary Welt is among those to whom I am forever indebted. I am honored to have served with Gary, but most of all, I am honored to call him my friend.”

Jeff “Speedy” Gonzales

“In life you meet a few very special people who impact your own life and leave a lasting impression. I met Gary Welt when I was a SEAL instructor at BUDs. His huge physical appearance, coupled with a manly voice that commanded respect, were immediately impressive. Our relationship as SEAL operators and Brothers continued through the next three decades. Gary has always been a selfless, strong, loving and caring human who I knew I could always trust with my life. He has loved his country, family and Brothers his entire life, making sacrifice after sacrifice for others. His actions and character have been an inspiration for me and many others, and I am so very proud to call him a friend and brother. He now faces a serious physical set back, and although he would never ask, he needs some love and help in the worst way. I look forward to working together with everyone to make a difference for this fine warrior and Brother in the months to follow. Gary, words will never be able to express how much I value your friendship. Just know that I will be there for you at your darkest hour. Love, honor and respect.”

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How You Can Help

The guys and I need your help. We are raising money (maximum amount TBD) to help Gary and his wife modify their home for his condition and for wheelchair access. The VA (Veterans Affairs) does a lot of good, but they are a slow moving bureaucracy and time is critical for the Welt family. What can you Do? Spread the word. “Like” this post, share it on your Facebook profile, Twitter, and any other forum you think appropriate. If you can donate that would be great. If not, then just helping us spread the word is enough and considered a big help. To donate please visit The Red Circle Foundation and make a note in the donate portal that designates your donation to Gary. This will ensure the money gets passed through directly to the family. This is a 100% pass through.

Thank you sincerely,

-Brandon, Editor