Gurio Vincenti of Punta Gorda came to the U.S. with his family from Italy in 1966, he was 18 at the time. After high school and a couple of years at a junior college he enlisted in the Navy.
He signed up in 1969 and went to boot camp at Coronado, Calif. Vincenti said he always wanted to be “Frogman.” He found out before he could try out to become a member of an Underwater Demolition Team he had to have a rating.
When he got out of boot camp the Navy made him a steward for a group of junior officers at a Navy base in Weymouth, Mass.
“It was good duty, but I didn’t want to spend the next four years in the Navy serving these guys breakfast, lunch and dinner,” Vincent recalled. “I complained to one of the officers that I wanted to be a ‘Frogman’ not a steward.
“I cooked for the bachelor officers quarters at Weymouth for three or four months,” he said. “Then I got a chance to take the test for ‘Frogman School’ and passed. I was sent to Little Creek, Va. headquarters for the Navy’s UDT operation.
“It was winter time and our class went through the course during the coldest part of the year, Vincenti recalled. “That was okay with me because I liked the cold weather. We had swimming PT (Physical Training) all the time, day and night.
“After three months in Little Creek I was sent to Key West for swimming training for three months. From there we went to Puerto Rico for demolition training for another three months,” he said. “Then it was off to ‘Jump School’ at Fort Benning, Ga. That was a vacation jumping out of airplanes.
“I was assigned to UDT-21 at Little Creek. There was a lot more training involved, then we were sent out on assignments around the world. Most of the time people didn’t know we were involved.”
Vincenti said little about where he was or what he did on most of these assignments. He did mention the 1983 bombing of the Marine Barracks in Beirut, Lebanon where 241 U.S. Marines and 58 French peace keepers were killed in a terrorist attack on their base.
A militant group known as the ”Martyrs of the Global Islamic Campaign” was charged with blowing up the barracks building with two truck bombs. The first blast killed the Marines and the second one killed the French soldiers.
As a result of the twin bombings the international peace keeping force was withdrawn from Lebanon.
He also spoke a little about an assignment with a UDT unit in Vietnam in the 1970. He didn’t say much except that some of their time was spent in the Delta of South Vietnam searching the rivers for secret POW camps. They found nothing.
Vincenti made the Oct. 1985 cover of “Solder of Fortune” magazine. There he was clad in desert camos, a bandana around his head clutching a revolver. The headline read: ‘Seal Saga—North Africa, Normandy, Nha Trang.’
It was a story about Navy SEALS being the people that get most of the tough jobs when it comes to bad news military assignments. None of the SEALS pictured with the article were named nor were their units.
“When I got back from a deployment my wife and two young daughters were gone,” he said. “I went looking for my two girls.
He got out of the UDT and the Navy in 1973 after a four year hitch. Seven years later, in 1980 he re-upped and went back in the SEALS.
“They were amazed I could still get through the UDT classes a second time,” Vincent said. “I was in my 30s at the time.”
When he got out the second time he used the coaching degree he received years earlier and taught at the National Sport Center for the Disabled in Denver, Colo. Then he taught PE for years at an area school before he and his third wife, Christina, moved to Florida nine years ago. He has four children: Gina, Thea, Anya, and Molly.
Name: Gurio Vincenti
D.O.B: 7 July 1948
Currently: Punta Gorda, FL
Entered Service: 1969 – 1973 then 1980 – 1988
Unit: UDT 21 Little Creek, VA
Commendations: Sea Service Development Ribbon, Navy Unit Commendation Medal, Navy Expeditionary Medal (Lebanon), Good Conduct Award
Battles/Campaigns: Cold War
This story was first published in the Charlotte Sun newspaper, Port Charlotte, Fla. on Monday, Sept. 17, 2018 and is republished with permission.
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