Woman shares SEAL kinship

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 4, 2011

By Karissa Minn
SALISBURY — A local woman once served with a predecessor of the Navy SEAL team now credited with the death of Osama bin Laden.
Bin Laden was killed Sunday in Pakistan during a raid reportedly carried out by members of the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group. The highly classified group, known informally as SEAL Team Six, doesn’t officially exist.
Patricia Brisson, who grew up in Mocksville and now lives in Salisbury, served in the U.S. Navy in a support role with SEAL Team Six for two years.
Brisson said she was surprised to hear it connected to the raid on bin Laden’s compound, and the name might be referring to a similar special operations team.
“I thought they had disbanded,” she said. “Right now, if there is a SEAL Team Six, it’s not where I used to be.”
When Brisson was serving in the 1980s, Team Six members wore civilian clothing, could not travel far from the compound and carried beepers so they could be called back at any time, she said. They did not talk about the team or use its name.
“SEAL Team Six pretty much did not exist,” Brisson said. “We did not wear uniforms, and we were called something totally different.”
Brisson helped get necessary supplies for the team as quickly as possible. She also took part in its practice operations.
“I would play the role of a hostage, a flight attendant or something like that,” Brisson said. “It was exciting, but it was also very scary, because you’d think it’s the real thing. They take it very, very seriously.”
She said the SEALs who took down bin Laden would have reconstructed his compound and rehearsed the raid in the same way, running through live scenarios until they were flawless.
Brisson said she had “no doubt” an elite group like Team Six could pull it off.
“I have been on operations for them where you would never know they were coming,” she said. “That they could go in and do this with no other casualties gives me cold chills.”
The members of the team, including bin Laden’s killer, have not been named and may never be publicly recognized for ending the nearly 10-year manhunt.
Brisson said the news of the successful raid brought her to tears, especially as a Navy veteran. Brissonjoined the Navy in 1981 with a friend at Mitchell Community College in Statesville.
“We actually went and joined, then came home and told our parents,” she said, laughing. “My mom said, ‘No, you’re not.’ I said, ‘I’m going,’ and I went.”
She left in 1991 as a Storekeeper First Class. She now works at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the tours department and has three children.
As a woman, Brisson could not serve in a combat role or become part of a SEAL team — which stands for Sea, Air and Land team — because the members can work in all three environments. She did pass the standard Navy boot camp and physical tests.
She said she was one of the first women to work with a Naval Special Warfare Group, where she helped expedite supplies for three different SEAL teams. After two years, she applied for a supply position what was open for Team Six.
“It was honorable to be a part of that, even though you couldn’t say anything,” Brisson said. “It’s honorable today.”
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.