Busted ribs, several knee replacements, 13 fused vertebrae, practically drowning, paralysis from the neck down for several days — these “mishaps” were part of the job for Navy SEAL Lt. Cmdr. Amir “Butch” Pishdad Jr. He does not regret them one bit.
In 1972, the Richmond, Virginia native planned to become a Green Beret. Among the elite corps’ talents was their proficiency with scuba diving, a sport Pishdad loved to practice in the murky waters of local quarries and in the not-much-cleaner Chesapeake Bay.
An uncle suggested he become a frogman. With visions of the TV series “Sea Hunt” in his head, he became a SEAL, a member of the elite Sea, Air and Land team who are the Navy’s most trusted weapons during special operations.
Wanting to be a SEAL is one thing. Becoming a SEAL is another, since about 80 percent of candidates do not graduate from the rigorous training.
With the Underwater Demolition Team, Pishdad qualified as a third-class petty officer electrician’s mate and Navy parachutist. He also served in SEAL Team Two during his first tenure in the Navy from 1973 to 1977.
“It was an honor to be part of a brotherhood so few get to join,” Pishdad said.
During a 2½-year hiatus from the service, he earned his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration before being recruited back into the Navy for another 16 years as a UDT, or Underwater Demolition Team, SEAL officer.
Promotions followed, as did deployments around the world. Injured on duty, he medically retired in 1996 from his position as a lieutenant commander, a job that included assignments as a Naval Special Warfare staff assistant operations officer and as a fleet commander SEAL advisory officer.
“One of my most rewarding assignments, for a kid who wanted to take scuba to the next level, was when I became the Diving Officer for Underwater Demolition Team 11 in Coronado, California,” he said.
After retirement, Pishdad operated a diving company in San Diego before moving to Florida in 2013 to help his ailing parents. He currently resides at Indian River Colony Club with his father, a retired Army warrants officer.
“Failure is not an option,” “never quit” and “it’s only as hard as you make it” are mantras that have served Pishdad well during all the broken bones and pain that is part of SEAL life.