When you see a military service member in uniform, you’ll likely see some sort of insignia on their breast. Whether it’s a ribbon, badge, or medal, these symbols are all important parts of military life and are ways to wear your experience with pride for all to see.
The Navy SEAL Trident is one of the most recognizable breast insignias of the U.S. Navy and probably throughout all of the U.S. military in general. This insignia features a golden trident, an anchor, and a flintlock pistol, all held together by an eagle. All of these features hold powerful meaning for Navy SEALs.
Here, we’re exploring what the Navy SEAL Trident represents, the history of this insignia, and why it’s important to Navy SEALs.
What is the Navy SEAL Trident?
The meaning and symbols incorporated in the Navy SEAL Trident have strong associations with the ethos of what it is to be a Navy SEAL. The official name of the Navy SEAL Trident is the Special Warfare insignia and it’s also sometimes known as “The Budweiser.”
The Navy SEAL Trident is awarded to those who complete the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training, complete SEAL Qualification Training (SQT), and have officially been designated as a U.S. Navy SEAL.
SEAL itself stands for sea, land, and air and the Navy SEAL Trident incorporates four symbols (the eagle, trident, pistol, and anchor) to represent these aspects of a SEAL’s responsibilities. Let’s take a closer look at each of these symbols individually.
First, the eagle signifies a Navy SEAL’s ability to move swiftly through the air with agility, versatility, and precision. Aircraft used by the SEALs are known to be stealthy and their airborne skills include sniper-like accuracy, much like an eagle.
Next, the pistol symbolizes a Navy SEAL’s expertise on land. During training and later in the field, SEALs are experts with technologically advanced machinery and some of the most powerful weapons ever to exist.
Perhaps most obviously, the anchor represents the Navy itself. SEALs are a subset of the U.S. Navy who are known to navigate and protect the waters, both on the surface and underneath, with the utmost bravery and skill.
Finally, the trident is most often associated with Greek mythology as the scepter of Poseidon. Poseidon was considered the god of the sea, which also makes sense in terms of a SEAL’s naval capacities and ability to protect the waters. Perhaps the trident represents a god-like power within the SEALs.
History of the Navy SEAL Trident
To properly explore the history of the Navy SEAL Trident, we must also mention a brief history of the Navy SEALs themselves.
The Navy SEALs are the primary special operations force of the U.S. Navy as part of the Naval Special Warfare Command. They were created on January 1, 1962, by President John F. Kennedy and their main functions include unconventional special warfare by small units for missions in maritime, jungle, urban, arctic, mountainous, and desert situations.
Navy SEALs can find their roots in World War II as the U.S. Navy required covert reconnaissance at landing beaches and coastal defense. Slowly but surely, it became necessary to form what’s now known as the Navy SEALs and the rest, as they say, is history.
Training to become a Navy SEAL is rigorous and difficult to complete with about 20% of those who make the attempt never finishing. It’s so difficult that currently there are no women who serve as Navy SEALs. Women were banned from the group until 2015 but even with the prohibition lifted, as of 2019, not a single woman has made it through training.
The Special Warfare Insignia was first established on October 16, 1970, and is known as the successor to the now-obsolete Underwater Demolition Insignia and derived from the British Combined Operations badge.
It was initially issued in two forms with gold Navy SEAL Tridents given to officers and silver ones given to enlisted sailors upon the completion of training. Then, in 1978, the silver Trident was done away with and, from then on, only a gold insignia has been issued.
This fact makes the Navy SEAL Trident especially interesting because it is one of the few breast insignia that has an identical issue for both enlisted and officer ratings. But, it makes sense since no matter what rate you hold, everyone must complete the same BUD/S training side by side to become a Navy SEAL. The Trident offers an additional symbol of brotherhood.
Since becoming a Navy SEAL is one of the most difficult positions to hold in the military, it is met with a lot of respect and distinction. Perhaps this is why earning a Navy SEAL Trident is such a huge honor and one of the most recognizable insignia.
Even when a Navy SEAL passes away, his Navy SEAL Trident continues to be an honored symbol. When a deceased SEAL is buried, fellow SEALs will take his insignia and pin it to the coffin before pounding it in place with a bare fist. It is known as a final farewell and a sign of respect.
Overall, maritime warfare is considered to be the most dangerous of all kinds of warfare since the sea is a notoriously volatile element. So, not only are you battling the enemy, but you’re battling the fierceness of the ocean as well.
Perhaps that of all the Special Forces Groups, the Navy SEALs are known to be the most powerful, highly-skilled, and are offered extreme respect throughout all the military branches and the entire country. The Navy SEAL Trident represents all of these things and is worn as a symbol of pride and accomplishment.
So, if you see a sailor wearing the Navy SEAL Trident, they should be treated with the utmost respect and gratitude. These people have likely seen the worst of the worst when it comes to war and battle and their specialized skills should not go unnoticed or unappreciated.