Richard Marcinko looks like he could be a normal guy. Yes, the long black ponytail and full beard hint at something more, but he's not particularly tall and a 70-year-old man is hard-pressed to keep up the physique of a peak athlete.
He speaks fast, but his voice lacks any gruffness, and he mixes in sarcasm, hand gestures, sound effects and, an only slightly-restrained, bluntness with the best of storytellers.
It's the nature of his stories that set him apart - running a secretive, special operations unit during the Vietnam War, fighting the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and forming and commanding counter-terrorism unit SEAL Team 6, the Navy SEAL unit that recently killed Osama bin Laden.
The man has his credentials in full - a Silver Star, four Bronze Stars, two Navy Commendation Medals and a Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry for good measure - including that group he formed three decades ago which recently found and killed the most hunted man in the world.
Congratulations, America, bin Laden is dead. Now wake up, grow up and fix the rest of the mountain of problems facing the country, Marcinko says.
Marcinko spoke to an invitation-only crowd at businessman Clay Newman's home Wednesday evening as the headliner for a meet-and-greet to support the mission of the Newton Fund, a nonprofit that encourages and supports other nonprofits and philanthropists of all kinds.
The man who never encountered a counter-terrorism problem he couldn't solve was on hand to encourage local residents to seek out solutions instead of focusing on problems.
"There is no shortage of problems; the challenge is to make this a better world," he said.
He's got a few ideas of his own, such as the implementation of a national draft for boys and girls. Not a military draft, but a draft where high school graduates are drafted into all fields of work such as agriculture, forestry or border patrol.
"Get away form mom and dad, get around other kids, get the lollipop out of your mouth and learn something. You'll learn nine things you'll never want to do again," Marcinko said.
He sees the benefits of Israel's system, and believes his idea would give companies a chance to see the youth of America, and if they liked them, the company could pay for college and recruit them to be a long-term employee.
As far as the problem of counter-terrorism, Marcinko said the key is to get to them before they're ever ready to get to you.
"Get the terrorist when he's home and comfortable that he doesn't have to worry about anything," he said. "That's why intelligence is very important."
Sadly those manila envelopes in the movies that give a full debriefing don't exist.
Better technology, training and vigilance is a must, he said, because terrorists are improving their tactics and becoming more reckless in their attacks.
"Terrorism used to be just hijacking planes to Cuba to make a statement...Then it went to hitting embassies, he said. "They graduated from embassies to 9/11, getting innocent civilians, even Muslims were killed in 9/11... Now you have cold-hearted death to anybody that's out there."
Gone are the days of the cold war where missiles were pointed only at military targets; population centers are now the key.
"It's a dirty game with no boundaries, no flags, limited only to your imagination as to what's' going to go down," Marcinko said.
How do you solve the problem of terrorists and Muslims he was asked - "kill them."
He says not all Muslims are bad, but the moderates aren't taking the lead. If it's a my way or the highway situation, he says there's no alternative.
"When they die they're winning, tactically," he said. "The only thing a SEAL can do is help him get there faster," he said earlier in the speech.
He would have disgraced bin Laden's body to make himself feel better, but agreed burying the body at sea was a smart move. Of course he talked about bin Laden, crediting the SEALs for getting the job done despite unexpected circumstances. Having trained to land in a complex with a chain link fence, the solid walks of the Pakistani complex threw off the helicopter's movements.
That adaptability and willingness to change plans is something all Americans can take with them, Marcinko told The News afterwards. Finding a way to incorporate change into everyday life, while maintaining the core values of your life or business is crucial to success.
However, his passion remains counter-terrorism, and one of the most important takeaways from a Marcinko speech or book is increased awareness about how vulnerable America is to an attack on infrastructure, nuclear facilities, anywhere.
"(Through my travels) that's the common thread I find," he said. "I want to give people awareness. I term my books fiction or prediction. So far they've all come true."