USS McFaul’s Skipper: No BUD/S? No Problem

| April 13, 2021 | 65 Comments

The Commanding Officer of the USS McFaul (DDG-74) – CDR Bobby Rowden – is creating quite a controversy.  The USS McFaul, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, was named for U.S. Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer Donald L. McFaul. McFaul was killed in action during Operation Just Cause – the 1989 U.S. invasion of Panama.

It seems that the CO authorized morale patches made for the crew featuring the U.S. Navy SEAL trident.

As expected, this is not well received in the SEAL community.  CPO McFaul is a legend, but the SEAL Trident must be earned, not given.  Besides, it is an official Navy warfare device.

There is no posted article about this.  It was posted on the USS McFaul Facebook page and the word spread quickly throughout the community.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Category: Navy, Phony SEAL

Comments (65)

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  1. FC2 (SW) Ron says:

    Earned not taken. The SEALS should absolutely be pissed about this. Based on customs, history and traditions, the Navy should know better. Oh and seriously now, why are the squids wearing digital cammo on a Destroyer??? It was bad enough that they switched to aquaflage, but green?

    • Sammy says:

      Digital greens are worn by every sailor afloat or ashore unless other uniforms are mandated ( flight suits, coveralls, etc… )

      • Sailorcurt says:

        I don’t think the question was “why are the sailors wearing them” that’s obvious: it’s the uniform of the day.

        I think the relevant question is: why the heck is Navy brass trying to make sailors look more like soldiers?

        Maybe it’s to compete with the Chinese “People’s Liberation Army Navy”?

        I decided I was joining the Navy at age 13. I’m not sure anyone really took me seriously until I sat down with my parents to get them to sign the enlistment papers (I was still only 17). Being a Sailor (now retired) has been a part of my identity for most of my life, but I have to admit that it’s starting to cross my mind to change the screen name I’ve been using since before the internet was invented because it’s becoming more of an embarrassment than a point of pride.

        Maybe I should buy a sailboat so I can tell people that’s what it’s about.

        • FC2 (SW) Ron says:

          Spot on Sierra Charlie, I was pointing out the ricoculousness of the Navy getting out of dungarees and getting the same haircut as the rest of the services.

          I was an 80’s enlisted sailor when beards were cool and like you my parents signed off on me joining in my Senior year of high school for the DEP.

          While not my identity, it’s part of my DNA. I still keep in regular comms with a former CO, 5 Navy buddies, and we can count a two star as a friend. In the end, we’re all men. The bonds and brotherhood of the sea run deep!

    • Dr.dru says:

      Navy working uniform, everyone wears it while in port or at shore commands.

    • E4 Mafia 83-87 says:

      My son’s boot camp picture has him in his green cammos, and when people see the pic they think he’s in the Army. I’m like “Nope, Navy so they look the same”. I don’t have a good answer for the confused look I usually get.

    • Sailorcurt says:

      It’s so they can hide in the foliage growing on deck.

  2. What happened to dungarees and girly magazines.

  3. Ex-PH2 says:

    If “morale” is so important for the CO, then why is it necessary to cop some other group’s hard-earned symbol and make a public ass of yourself at the same time?

    A much better symbol is the ship itself, plowing all ahead full through heavy seas. Much simpler design, too.

    What a numbskull this guy is. Someone let me know when the SJWs finally find themselves in quicksand? Meantime, I will return to hobnobbing with wild geese and ducks.

  4. Daisy Cutter says:

    Awwww… hell to the no.

  5. AW1Ed says:

    I know how I would react if Naval Aircrew Wings were on a similar patch. Do better, Rowden.

    • Mick says:


      And stand by for the inevitable torrent of outrageous bullshit that some of those young Sailors are going to undoubtedly be spewing when they’re asked about their “Tridents” by the uninformed/unsuspecting public.

      It’ll be phony SEALs a-go-go.

      • MarineDad61 says:

        Flashback to 1992.
        Several newbies in our Army National Guard unit,
        some even before shipping off to basic training:
        “Yeah, man, our whole unit was in the desert for Desert Storm.”

        1 was caught trying to join his hometown VFW.
        None of this bullshit bunch lasted the 3 years (of part time).

  6. MarineDad61 says:

    Literally, Holy Crap.
    DDG-74 patches, pins, challenge coins,and more out there,
    for the public to buy (kaching).

    Due straight at the bow horizon,
    40 years of Phony 74 SEALs ahead.


  7. Mason says:

    I really do not want to see the morale patch for the Harvey Milk.

  8. Keepin' It Real says:

    CDR Rowden appears to be wearing the SEAL Trident morale patch as well.

    Rowden - Award

  9. QMC says:

    Saw this a few months ago in Norfolk. I dunno.

    The patches are supposed to be somewhat representative of the ship’s namesake, which is Chief McFaul. As long as they’re not getting sewed on above their ESWS, I would think most people know the difference between the ship’s morale patch and a warfare pin.

    • LC says:

      Yeah, I think ‘intent’ has a lot to do with how this comes across. If the goal was to use the must-be-earned SEAL Trident to look ‘cool’, that’s a problem. If it was to truly honor McFaul’s identity as a SEAL, in addition to his name, then that’s more understandable.

      Nobody in the military is going to be confused by those patches. And anybody who is willing to misrepresent themselves as a SEAL to the public because they have one of them is likely to find themselves in some hot water. Plus, replica Tridents are easy enough to find anyway.

      • tonyo says:

        From SEAL Tony O: To LC, very weak argument my friend, sounds like your military experience is limited – do tell – which is ok unless you wish to argue accurately. I respect your view & confidence to express it but I disagree as a SEAL or for anyone with a special qual, most observers will not know “intent” nor analyze it – it won’t be Hey nice patch, what’s the intent? Nope, it will be nice patch, are you a SEAL? (esp in green BDU). What will the Sailor’s response be? Anything, incl yes Ma’am. Why give them the obvious opportunity to answer falsely. Thats why smart leaders dont make these mistakes, since no one will know the “intent.” Chief McFaul’s name is not on that patch so any “intent” to honor him is absent. I cant wear insignia of doctor, astronaut, pilot, surface warfare or any other cool job & misrepresent myself so i dont – and no one should use an insignia wrongly officially and no one does except DDG74, its not right. I spent a lot of time on subs & was made an “Honorary Submariner” – can i wear their cool insignia? of crs not. I am a certified army jumpmaster who would qual for Army master jumpmaster – can i wear that cool insignia? of crs not. Yes many if not most in military will be very “confused” as will almost all civilians, hmmm intent?? just sayn. I did 21 years & worked with many specialties in all branches – I know many uniform insignias & I DONT know a LOT of insignias. And if they misrepresent as a SEAL its going to be in private away from work, on road, at bar, party in private conversation w no “hot water.” Yes all insignia are easy to get – and many impostors do so and try to use it for personal gain which is obviously wrong, we catch some of them – but that does not give right to use insignia wrongly nor use it as official uniform emblem wrongly. Plus you would think that a ship CO would contact SEAL HQ and run idea by them, answer likely wouldve been: Honor Chief McFaul, his Navy Cross, his unit SEAL Team FOUR, Battle of Panama no problem but not with wrongful use of another warfare specialty insignia that can clearly and easily be abused. Please assist us with getting this wrong policy reversed. Thank you TO

        Name edited to protect PII.

        • AW1Ed says:

          Thanks for your insight, Tony. LC is our very own Liberal Civvie, and while his viewpoints may differ from most here, he is always welcome to speak his mind.

          As for the name edit, sorry but it’s SOP. By the nature of what we are part of- outing the worst possible Valor Thieves- members can become targets for frivolous lawsuits and worse. It has happened, so we learned the hard way not to make it easy for them.

        • LC says:

          I guess my view was more on the decision to do it, where I think intent matters a great deal (maybe moving it from ‘utterly stupid’ to ‘well-intentioned but not ideal’), vs the ramifications of sailors flaunting the patch.

          As for the insignia, perhaps we simply draw the line a little differently – I’ve known SEALs, and seen Tridents up close, and would not be any more confused by that patch (especially with DDG-74 on it) than I would be confused into thinking someone walking around the store in a NASA hat were an astronaut. Now, granted, maybe that’s because we know more about astronauts, whereas the public doesn’t know much about SEALs, despite their legendary literary aspirations, so you may be right about the number of people who’d believe anyone with said patch served on the Teams. Fair enough. I’m not arguing this was a good idea, just that if the intent were to honor McFaul himself, it’s more understandable.

          Plus, as most here would likely confirm,… I like to be a little contrarian at times. If you’re new, welcome to TAH/VG, and thanks again for your perspective on this.

          • Poetrooper says:

            A LITTLE contrarian at times???😖😖😖

          • QMC says:

            Yeah, my inclination and thoughts were more what you were saying along with the “intent” of the morale patches. If it’s truly to honor Chief McFaul, the ship’s namesake, then I guess I can see it.

            Are there better choices that could have been made to avoid the whole controversy, yeah probably so. And in hindsight, there are probably going to be some in leadership that will be rethinking this choice. But anybody that sees these guys walking into the NEX at Norfolk, will automatically know that these are not SEALs.

            So, I guess I’m in the minority here this time in that I somewhat agree with you, LC. Broken clocks and what not.

            • OrcaNFO says:

              I agree. I don’t think many people are really going to be confused by this. Could they have maybe worked the trident into a design to honor Chief McFaul and represent the ship as well? Sure. Do I think there is an iota of ill-will or the intention to steal valor? Absolutely not. Of I ever have a ship named after me (bahaha!), I would not be terribly surprised if my NFO wings were on a moral patch, and I really wouldn’t be upset about it.

            • tonyo says:

              Look at the patch. Pretend you know nothing about symbols (ie objective view)- as many if not most in military and civilians do not know. Trident is same size as regulation size trident. Worn very close to left breast pocket regulation location. Ship is named after Chief McFaul since he recd Navy Cross KIA in Battle of Panama in Op Just Cause – none of that is on patch – but c0uld/should be. No where does patch mention Chief McFaul. To that average uninformed observer that patch simply SCREAMS “I’m wearing a trident so I am a SEAL” and “I am a silent warrior (since I’m a SEAL)” and “I am courage honor sacrifice like a SEAL.” Possible joking or being argumentative aside (i don;t know u), u are absolutely wrong & grossly over-estimate knowledge of most people ANYWHERE knowing who does or does not wear trident, on anyone it unquestionably grossly invites the question by some: “nice trident, are you a SEAL?” Our work busting SEAL impostors/fakers shows huge number of folks easily assume anyone w balls enough to wear trident & say they are SEAL then they will believe they are a SEAL trust me – I’ve thought that myself since some fakers are incredibly convincing. With due respect to any intent, this design is disrespectful to Chief McFaul & SEALs. It is common-sense irresponsible for leadership to propose & non-awardees to wear any other warfare specialty. Options: Chief McFaul’s CPO anchor very cool, Navy Cross super cool, Purple Heart, Panama, Just Cause, and MUST incl his name CPO McFaul ideally w IHO in honor of. Intent at least highly questionable, design very poorly done. On behalf of my specialty, brothers & Chief McFaul RIP, please, I respectfully request your assistance for command to withdraw & improve design. Sincerely thank you AO

              Name edited to protect PII again.

              • Daisy Cutter says:

                Here’s the way it usually works.

                Q: Are you a SEAL?
                A: What makes you ask that?

                Q: The patch on your shoulder.
                A: Well, it should speak for itself.

                Q: I get it, you’re not allowed to talk about it?
                A: (smile)

        • Shaun Up Chit says:

          TonyO: you and I grew up in the day where we just punched out anyone wearing an offending pin, shirt, hat, and then removed said offending item. Obviously times have changed, but not the lack of respect for the Special Warfare Community this embodies–whether witting or unwitting. I absolutely see their challenge coin being confiscated at a bar if someone were stupid enough to toss it down.

          Name edited to protect PII.

    • AW1Ed says:

      See MarineDad61’s link- plenty of USS McFaul bling that could have been used without hijacking a Warfare Specialty device. I put the SWO pic up tongue-in-cheek. There’s no way that would be on a command sanctioned patch worn by Enlisted.

    • Charlie Golf says:

      Exactly. The SEALS should not spaz out, they aren’t wearing it as a warfare insignia, as anyone in the Navy should know.

      Name edited to protect PII.

  10. AtlanticCoast63 says:

    ….I can absolutely see the problem that the SEALs would have with this. I also wonder if anybody even thought about contacting the SEAL leadership to see if they could do this, which might have avoided a problem entirely.

    So, let me suggest this: fall back on the mascot tradition of ship’s insignia from WWII. Would there be an issue with having somebody do a ‘tough’ cartoon seal with enlisted stripes, and make that the ship’s morale patch.

  11. Sparks says:

    I cannot believe the Commander of any ship would take it upon himself to have these patches made and given out to crewmen for ANY reason. I left a message on their Facebook page because you cannot directly post comments and expressed my dislike for this.

    I hope the SEAL community and big Navy hammer his dick to the deck.

    • Green Thumb says:

      The Navy should just make it easy and rename the ship the “USS Phillip D. Monkress”.

      And have it “recommissioning” at the All-Points Logistics HQ in Merritt Island, FL.

      To easy.

      A win-win, if you will.

  12. KoB says:

    Nope! Gotta agree with using something else as indicated above, ie; the ship itself or as A/C 63, fall back to the mascots designs of WWII. And paint it on the bow as in nose art for Aerial Artillery Platforms.

  13. Andy says:

    I understand what the CO is trying to do with the history of the ship’s name, but, instead of the Trident being so prominant. Maybe the design could have had a “in memory of” with a much smaller Trident along with McFal’s name and rank? Would make thisbissue much less inflammatory.

    • timactual says:

      Evidently having a ship named after you isn’t enough. Must have cool SEAL Trident patches, too, to honor an individual whose name isn’t even on the patch.

      At least they got the rest right; SEALS are called “Silent Warriors”, right? And the SEAL motto is “Courage Honor Sacrifice”, right? And McFaul’s initials were “DDG 74”, right?

      Truly a fitting tribute to USS McFaul…I mean, uh, (what’s his name again?)…uh…that SEAL guy.

  14. timactual says:

    How old are those people? Pre-adolescent kids get a big kick out of running around in soldier suits with neat patches & stuff. Leather “bomber jackets” with lots of patches used to be way cool.

    And those patches are crooked! Looks like shit.

  15. E4 Mafia 83-87 says:

    Is there no approval process? He just thought it up and had them made? Lack of Internal Controls no doubt are a problem.

  16. Ex Coelis says:

    Could picture this in a future Ewe-Tube video; CDR Rowden picking up the phone: “Hi Bob, this is Don Shipley…are you a Navy SEAL? No?! Then why the fuck are you and your entire ship’s crew wearing SEAL Tridents?!!”

    With so much historical controversy surrounding this venerable device and symbol, it’s amazing to me that this ‘commander’ gave no apparent consideration to that. Dick move. Hope Don Shipley actually does phone Rowden up and yells at him so damn loud, his ears bleed!!!

  17. OldManchu says:

    Morale patches. What’s next, nap time?

  18. Keepin' It Real says:

    (Read with the voice of Martin Sheen)

    WILLARD (V.O.)

    April, 2021. On special assignment, Jacksonville Florida, Destroyer Squadron 26... Rowden staged Operation SEAL Trident with junior staff support. Rated a major success. He received no official clearance. He just thought it up and did it. What balls. They were going to nail his ass to the floorboards for that one. But after the press got a hold of it, they promoted him to full Captain instead. Oh, man, the bullshit piled up so fast in the Navy, you needed wings to stay above it.

  19. EOD SEAL says:

    As is very often so with Navy SEALs, I began my Naval career with the regular Navy, reporting to Bootcamp in the wee hours, stumbling off a bus from the airport with a gaggle of awkward, culture-shocked guys from the Midwest. There on the grinder, a petty officer called out names from a list he had, of those previously slated for BUD/S Training. That did not include me, but it got my attention. Three weeks later, about three recruit companies were shown two films in the Base theater; the first, Someone Special followed by Men With Green Faces. Although I was certainly aware of UDT as I’d grown up hearing of it from WWII -era Navy veterans, like my best friend’s father, these films left me completely enthralled and, when the lights came on and a SEAL CPO stepped out to invite anyone interested to muster with him out front to participate in an official Physical Screening Test, I was surprised to realize that out of several hundred men, only five of us stuck around to accept the challenge.
    Out of that event,the Screening which I passed, came my serious commitment to become a Navy Frogman. But, it would be almost another year before I would report to BUD/S at NavPhibase Coronado for the actual experience to officially begin. Meanwhile, I had to stay very motivated and focused, not be discouraged or allow myself, others or any circumstances to cause me to lose sight of my goal. That’s a story familiar to each individual member of the NavSpecWar community.
    So, it’s understandable that any attempt by non-SEALs to insinuate something that isn’t so, is going to met with strong objection by those who know the cost to be entitled to legitimately put on the Trident.

    [Edited to remove PII -Mason] Welcome aboard!

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