WATCH: ‘The Men With Green Faces’ Vietnam War Navy SEAL Documentary

May 11, 2021Matt Fratus
Navy SEALs Vietnam men with green faces coffee or die

Navy SEALs in green war paint and wearing blue jeans during the Vietnam War. Photo courtesy of

Released in 1969 during the Vietnam War, Men With Green Faces was one of the first documentaries on the then-new training and operations of the Navy SEAL teams. When it was released, it was unlike almost any military documentary that came before it, with cameras diving into the infamous BUD/S training — Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL school — where candidates run through an obstacle course, carry inflatable boats on their heads, and perform calisthenics.

“These men are members of one of the most unique military organizations in history,” says the narrator in the opening monologue. “Behind these green faces are men who have accepted the challenge of some of the most daring assignments given to American fighting men.”

After the BUD/S footage, the cameras follow candidates through advanced training to learn the skills required to go to war with an elite Navy SEAL unit. 

President John F. Kennedy established the SEAL teams on Jan. 1, 1962, and the first volunteers came from the Navy’s Underwater Demolition Teams to organize SEAL Team 1 and SEAL Team 2. 

“For years, the existence of these teams was a Defense Department secret,” the narrator says. “Now parts of their story can be told.”

UDT history within Naval Special Warfare dates back to World War II. The UDT frogmen were sometimes referred to as the “naked warriors” for wearing only face masks, swim trunks, and fins on operations to destroy obstacles in preparation for amphibious landings. It was in Vietnam, however, where the frogmen teams evolved into a direct-action commando force. 

SEALs wore boonie hats and jungle-camouflage uniforms, and they used green war paint on their hands and faces. They also developed their own swagger, ignoring military uniform regulations by donning Chuck Taylor Converse shoes because they drained well while operating across the wetlands of the Mekong Delta. It wasn’t uncommon to find a 12-man SEAL platoon wearing blue jeans, either.

The men with green faces earned a legendary reputation, which modern-day Navy SEALs carried onward, becoming the “men with green eyes” in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Read Next: ‘3 Minutes To Save a Life’: The Man Responsible for the Jaws of Life

Matt Fratus
Matt Fratus

Matt Fratus is a history staff writer for Coffee or Die. He prides himself on uncovering the most fascinating tales of history by sharing them through any means of engaging storytelling. He writes for his micro-blog @LateNightHistory on Instagram, where he shares the story behind the image. He is also the host of the Late Night History podcast. When not writing about history, Matt enjoys volunteering for One More Wave and rooting for Boston sports teams.

More from Coffee or Die Magazine
Coffee Or Die Photo
From the Team Room to Team Room Design: An Operator’s Creative Journey

BRCC partners with Team Room Design for an exclusive T-shirt release!

Coffee Or Die Photo
Get Your Viking On: The Exclusive 30 Sec Out BRCC Shirt Club Design

Thirty Seconds Out has partnered with BRCC for an exclusive shirt design invoking the God of Winter.

Grizzly Forge BRCC shirt
Limited Edition: Grizzly Forge Blades on an Awesome BRCC Shirt

Lucas O'Hara of Grizzly Forge has teamed up with BRCC for a badass, exclusive Shirt Club T-shirt design featuring his most popular knife and tiomahawk.

BRCC Limited Edition Josh Raulerson Blackbeard Skull Shirt
From Naval Service to Creative Canvas: BRCC Veteran Artist Josh Raulerson

Coffee or Die sits down with one of the graphic designers behind Black Rifle Coffee's signature look and vibe.

Medal of Honor is held up.
Biden Will Award Medal of Honor to Army Helicopter Pilot Who Rescued Soldiers in Vietnam Firefight

Biden will award the Medal of Honor to a Vietnam War Army helicopter pilot who risked his life to save a reconnaissance team from almost certain death.

dear jack mandaville
Dear Jack: Which Historic Battle Would You Want To Witness?

Ever wonder how much Jack Mandaville would f*ck sh*t up if he went back in time? The American Revolution didn't even see him coming.

west point time capsule
West Point Time Capsule Yields Centuries-Old Coins

A nearly 200-year-old West Point time capsule that at first appeared to yield little more than dust contains hidden treasure, the US Military Academy said.

  • About Us
  • Privacy Policy
  • Careers
Contact Us
Contact Us
© 2024 Coffee or Die Magazine. All Rights Reserved