William McRaven was born in November 1955 in North Carolina and raised in San Antonio, Texas. McRaven followed in his father’s footsteps, joining the military. He attended the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism, and then joined the Navy. He then became one of the Navy’s elite special operators: Navy SEAL.

After completing Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL Training, McRaven assumed a role in SEAL Team Six in the early 1980s. He then commanded a platoon in SEAL Team Four. In the early 1990s, McRaven served as a task unit commander in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm of the Persian Gulf War. Following those operations, he returned to the SEALs as commander of SEAL Team Three.

Additionally, McRaven went on to lead the Special Operations Command Europe and served as commander of the Joint Special Operations Command. He also served as director of NATO’s Special Operations Forces Coordination Centre.

Taking down America’s enemies

In a late-night show interview, McRaven told the story  of how the U.S. military captured Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein shortly after Operation Iraqi Freedom. It was McRaven’s responsibility to interrogate and keep Hussein in custody.

McRaven served as the commander for U.S. Special Operations Command from 2011 to 2014. In this role, he lead a force of 69,000 men and women in global operations against terrorism. McRaven oversaw the 2011 Navy SEAL raid in Pakistan that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Throughout his leadership in the Navy, McRaven also advised Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and other notable U.S. leaders on defense, foreign policy and counterterrorism issues.

McRaven is an influential military, political and foreign policy expert, recognized by well known respected institutions, media outlets and publications. These include recognition from the FBI, Foreign Policy magazine, the Republic of France, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association and the Central Intelligence Agency Officers Memorial Foundation.

McRaven has published several best-seller books. These include Spec Ops: Case Studies in Special Operations Warfare: Theory and PracticeSea Stories: My Life in Special Operations, Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…and Maybe the World.

Back to his roots

Following 37 years of service, McRaven retired from the Navy as an admiral in 2014. A true Longhorn, McRaven joined the University of Texas System as chancellor in 2015 to better the lives of Texans and citizens worldwide through education, research and health care. As a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, McRaven teaches classes concerning National & International Security, Intelligence and Military Affairs. McRaven is known for his engagements with students throughout academic and research centers on campus

In 2014, McRaven delivered the Commencement Address at the University of Texas at Austin. The speech received great acclaim for its inspirational tone.


Writer: Gianfranco Hernandez

Editor: Essence McPherson

Fact checker: Nohely Diaz

Graphic artist: Alyssa Morford

Share this story

Published on Dec. 10, 2020

Estimated reading time is 2.4 min.

Views to date: 595

More Stories

  • Bernie Webber led one of the greatest Coast Guard rescues in history that was later chronicled in the book and movie, “The Finest Hours.”

  • As the events of 9/11 unfolded, Marine Veteran Robert Darling served as a liaison between the Pentagon and Vice President Dick Cheney in the underground bunker at the White House.

  • NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong was the first person to walk on the moon. He was also a seasoned Naval aviator.