The Emerson Center’s free Humanities Series ends the season with the Executive Director of the Fort Pierce’s Navy SEAL museum, Rick Kaiser, on “Impactful Leadership” Tuesday, March 10, at 7 p.m.
Retired U.S. Navy Master Chief Rick Kaiser admits he thought about quitting.
It was Hell Week, the seven days of Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL (BUD/S) training where young recruits are kept awake nearly 24/7, and he was being punished for falling asleep after a midnight meal.
“Lucky for me, the punishment was getting put in cold water,” he said, “and it woke me up.” Hell Week followed months of grueling training including “getting up, getting yelled at, getting wet, getting cold, getting sandy and knowing it’s not going to end anytime soon,” Kaiser recalls. The instructors tried to get recruits to quit in training – and 75 percent of them do – rather than in combat.
He didn’t quit, and in 1979 his rigorous training and perseverance earned him a spot in Navy SEAL Team 2 at the age of 17.
By 1985, Kaiser was selected to join the elite SEAL Team 6, involved in every conflict our country has been in. While it is customary for the highly secretive SEALS not to disclose which operations they were involved in, Kaiser acknowledges his role as one of four elite snipers called to rescue members of the downed Black Hawk helicopter during the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993. His service as the lead sniper earned him the Silver Star for Valor.
Over time, the group has gained a reputation as being an elite force, partially due to the rigorous training involved. Kaiser said there have been about 16,000 SEALs total, and about 2,500 are active at any given time.
During his career in SEAL Team 6, Kaiser made numerous deployments to Bosnia hunting war criminals. Looking forward to spending less time traveling and more time with his family, Kaiser retired from active duty in August of 2000. Then, the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, change those plans. Rick was rehired to act as the SEALs Deputy Operations Officer. He served in this position until 2012, overseeing and managing numerous combat deployments post 9-11 of SEALs to Afghanistan, Iraq, Africa, and many other locations around the world. Rick was deployed to Bagram, Afghanistan, as the Current Operations Officer for a Joint Service Combat Unit.
For the duration of his distinguished career, Master Chief Rick Kaiser has been stationed around the world. Serving on SEAL Team 2 for five years, Kaiser specialized in winter warfare, combat diving, and sniping before being selected for duty at SEAL Team 2. He served at SEAL Team 6 for 27 years, acting as sniper, explosives expert, Lead Training Chief, sniper team leader, and Deputy Operations Officer.
He now serves as the Executive Director of the National Navy SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, where the first SEALs were trained 75 years ago under orders from President John F. Kennedy.
In addition to the multiple exhibits, the museum also memorializes the 302 who have died in the line of duty as a big part of its mission.
Throughout his career, Kaiser has developed leadership skills aimed to have a lasting impact in an organization. He shares those leadership lessons at The Emerson Center Tuesday, March 10, at 7 p.m.
This program is sponsored by the Marine Bank and Trust and generous voluntary donations from series attendees.
The seating capacity of the Emerson Center is more than 800 and it offers free parking. Admission to The Emerson Center Humanities events are free with voluntary donations at the end of the program. The center is accessible to people with disabilities and is conveniently located at 1590 27th Avenue, on the SE corner of 16th Street and 27th Avenue in Vero Beach. For more information, contact 772-778-5249.