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Michelle Ule | The Skullduggery Involved in Writing about Navy SEALs

October 3, 2014

Michelle UleBRIDGING TWO HEARTSI began at my local military recruiting center when researching Navy SEALs for my novel BRIDGING TWO HEARTS. I picked up a red phone at the locked door and announced my name and reason for visiting (I obviously was not an enlistment candidate).

A camera swiveled in my direction and the door buzzed to let me in.

Once inside I explained to a female Navy chief that as a “retired” Navy wife, I had spent twenty years without a need to know things I didn’t need to know, therefore, I didn’t have a problem with not needing to know important details about SEAL operations.

She smiled.

As did every military person I explained this to over the next months.

Unfortunately, she could not give me any SEAL details. Instead, she picked up a hot pink post-it note and wrote a name and a phone number. I should call “Steve” for information.

When “Steve” answered the phone, I heard the click of pool balls in the background along with what sounded like a sip from a glass.

I explained who I was–that I was writing a story about Navy SEALs and I just needed background information about the domestic side of SEAL life. I’ve read enough memoirs, I understood how grim their lives were, and I did not need any information about operations.

“Where did you get my number?” Steve demanded.

I explained about the chief at navy recruiting.

“I’ve been shut down,” he muttered. “I can’t say anything. I can’t help you.”

I went through my line about not needing to know and he snickered.

“Try this name and number. He’s a PAO (Public Affairs Officer) and maybe he can help you.”

I dialed “Dave’s” phone number.

This office sounded more efficient, but Dave, too, had a terse question: “Where did you get this phone number and my name?”

I explained about Steve in Sonoma County and Dave relaxed.

“I can’t discussion current operations,” he explained, but he did provide me with an appropriate age for my hero and a description of his training pipeline.

That helped.

Dave wanted to know who I was and what I was investigating. We exchanged emails.

From there, I spent time on the Navy SEAL board, read memoirs and histories, interviewed Navy friends and discovered disquieting facts. It’s a sobering job, defending the United States of America with your bare hands.

I didn’t need, nor want, to know any more.

A week after my phone call with Dave, I noted a mysterious naval intelligence officer is now following me on Twitter. . .

What better way to start writing a story about clandestine activities than with a mystery?


Michelle Ule is a best-selling author of inspirational and historical fiction who lives with her now-retired Navy Commander husband and children in northern California. Visit her website for more information.

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