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Was Ron DeSantis A Navy SEAL? (No, But He Did Serve In The Military)

As happens with many public figures, there is confusing information about Florida’s 46th governor, Ron DeSantis, and whether he served as part of the United States Navy Sea, Air, and Land Teams—more commonly known as Navy SEALs.

So, was Ron DeSantis really a Navy SEAL? No, he was definitely not.

With that said, DeSantis did serve in the military and did, in fact, work very closely with the Navy SEALs during a deployment to Iraq in 2007.

In this article, we’ll address the Florida governor’s actual association with the Navy SEALs, as well as his background and military career.

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Who Is Ron DeSantis?

was ron desantis a navy seal

Ron DeSantis is the Republican incumbent governor of Florida. He entered office in 2019 and was reelected in 2022.

Background and Education

Ronald D. DeSantis was born in Jacksonville, Florida, on September 14, 1978.

At age six, his family relocated to Dunedin, Florida, where he was raised.

DeSantis graduated from Dunedin High School in 1997.

He then on to earn his undergraduate degree (Bachelor of Arts) in history from Yale University in 2001.

Later, he attended Harvard Law School and graduated with his J.D. in 2005.

DeSantis also completed Naval Justice School in 2005.

Upon his graduation from Harvard Law School and Naval Justice School, DeSantis began his military career as a Naval officer.

He spent approximately five years on active duty before transitioning to a career in politics.

Political Career

Following his military service, DeSantis was elected as a Republican from Florida’s 6th congressional district to the U.S. House of Representatives.

He served as a Republican congressman in this district from 2013 to 2018 and was especially known for his fiscal conservatism.

During his time in the U.S. House of Representatives, Ron DeSantis served on several committees.

These committees and his held positions on subcommittees include:

  • 2013-2014: Committee on Foreign Affairs, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Committee on the Judiciary
  • 2015-2016: Foreign Affairs Committee, Judiciary Committee (Vice Chairman of Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice), and Oversight and Government Reform Committee (Chairman of Subcommittee on National Security)
  • 2017-2018: Committee on Foreign Affairs, Committee on Judiciary, and Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

DeSantis has held the office of governor of Florida since 2019 (elected in 2018).

In Florida, there is an election for governor every four years.

There is no established lifetime limit on the number of times a person can be elected as Florida governor.

However, anyone who has been elected to two consecutive terms as governor of the state must be out of the office for at least one full election cycle before they are eligible for re-election.

As the incumbent Republican, Governor Ron DeSantis is currently serving his second consecutive term as Florida’s governor.

Ron DeSantis’s Military Career

Ron DeSantis’s military career includes both active duty and reserve service in the U.S. Navy.

In 2004, Ron DeSantis was commissioned as a Reserve Naval Officer at the U.S. Naval Reserve Center in Dallas, Texas.

He was assigned to the Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG) while a student at Harvard Law School and completed U.S. Naval Justice School the next year.

Subsequent to earning his J.D., DeSantis received orders from JAG Trial Service Office Command Southeast at Naval Station Mayport in Florida as a military prosecutor.

In 2006, he was promoted to lieutenant and worked for the Joint Task Force-Guantanamo Commander (JTF-GTMO) with the title of JTF-GTMO scheduler/administrative officer.

He reportedly worked directly with detainees, performing legal and mission support duties, at Guantanamo Bay Joint Detention Facility until 2007 when he reported to Naval Special Warfare Command in Coronado, California.

In the spring of 2008, DeSantis was reassigned to the Naval Region Legal Service in Florida.

He was appointed as an assistant attorney at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Florida’s Middle District.

DeSantis served as a trial defense counsel until he was honorably discharged from active duty in early 2010.

He concurrently accepted a reserve commission as a lieutenant in the JAG of the U.S. Navy Reserve.

Related Article6 Free Ways To Check If Someone Was In The Military

Service Awards and Decorations

During his military career, DeSantis was awarded a bronze star medal for meritorious service, October 2007 to April 2008.

For his prosecution of court martial cases as well as federal court cases involving procurement fraud and military medals fraud, DeSantis was awarded a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal.

He also earned an Iraq Campaign Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

Ron DeSantis & His Role With The Navy SEALs

ron desantis miitary
The ‘Bone Frog’ tattoo is a style of tattoo SEALs get after successful completion of a full platoon or rotation. It has evolved into a tribute for fallen comrades. Image:

Though Ron DeSantis was not a Navy SEAL, he did play a role in advising a SEAL team in 2007.

In that year, at the Naval Special Warfare Command Group in Coronado, California, DeSantis was assigned to Navy SEAL Team One.

He deployed to Iraq during the U.S. military troop surge at that time.

His position was Legal Advisor to the U.S. Navy SEAL Commander, Special Operations Task Force-West.

DeSantis played an advisory role to the commander in support of the SEAL mission in Fallujah, Ramadi, and the remaining area of Al Anbar province.

As a Navy attorney, DeSantis served as senior legal advisor and close counsel to SEAL team captain Dane Thorleifson.

In this capacity, DeSantis oversaw the treatment of detainees to ensure humane conduct toward them while in Iraq.

It is reported that he worked to protect the rights of approximately 100 detainees during this time.

In addition, he monitored the missions of Navy SEALs and Army Green Berets in his jurisdiction to ensure they followed and adhered to the rule of law.

This monitoring included making sure that interrogations followed the rules of the U.S. military and the Geneva Conventions.

Military records substantiate DeSantis’s duties in Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula during 2007 and part of 2008, described as follows:

  • Special operations
  • Special reconnaissance
  • Intelligence operations
  • Foreign internal defense operations

Therefore, though Ron DeSantis was not a Navy SEAL himself, he did play a role as legal advisor to SEAL Captain Dane Thorleifson, commander of Special Operations Task Force-West in Iraq.

Related ArticleHow To Check If Someone Was A Navy SEAL


For many politicians, a military service record and background can earn them a substantial amount of support among active duty service members, veterans, and pro-military voters.

Moreover, accurate federal records of military experience are important among all who have served, including politicians.

This provides confirmation of facts for the public.

It also reduces the amount of misinformation and/or assumptions related to the military careers of public officials.

Ron DeSantis’s military records substantiate his service as a Naval officer in many roles.

These include prosecutor, defense attorney, international law attorney, and Judge Advocate General’s Corps Officer across his military career.

Since Ron DeSantis’s transition to political office, as a Florida congressman and then as the state’s 46th governor, there has been speculation that he was a Navy SEAL.

Though DeSantis did have a military career as an officer in the U.S. Navy, he was not a Navy SEAL during his time of service.

However, he did serve as close legal counsel to a Navy SEAL commander while deployed to Iraq in 2007 and 2008.

In addition, DeSantis provided mission support and legal monitoring within his jurisdiction during that time.

This was to ensure humane treatment of detainees as well as adherence to the rule of law among military personnel.

Ron DeSantis’s role in working with Navy SEALs is likely the reason that some people wrongly assume that he was a Navy SEAL himself.

Rob V.
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Was Ron Desantis a Navy SEAL? No, but he did serve as a US Navy JAG officer, and did work alongside a SEAL Team during his time in Iraq. Learn more here.
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10 Replies to “Was Ron DeSantis A Navy SEAL? (No, But He Did Serve In The Military)

  1. I am curious as to how many Attorney’s were assigned to SEAL team 1 during his time. Was he the only one and what exactly merits his Bronze Star? As a retired Veteran that served in Iraq. In my time there only officers received the bronze star. Regardless if they did anything outside of the normal work day. Although I appreciate his service record and am not doubting his accomplishments. I am saying that just because he received the Bronze Star for Meritorious Service, does not mean he deserves to be President.

    1. Exactly, DeSantis was a paper pusher that’s all he did, every description of his duties will fall short of his actually being in a theatre of combat. his bronze star may have been awarded because he was assigned to a unit that was awarded, but he was NEVER in combat!

    2. Well said. I served in Iraq at the same time as DeSantis and was offered a Bronze Star but turned it down. I believe if you hand out awards like candy, it demeans the awards.
      I am also a Vietnam Veteran and back then you really had to deserve an award to receive one.

  2. I can agree with most of the comments I am reading here about the then, LT DeSantis. However; I also think that it is unconscionable to wear the Trident as a SEAL team member unless you have actually qualified and warrant being designated as a U.S. NAVY SEAL. In my opinion, this is his bad judgment as a young officer.

    I am willing to bet that he never appeared in uniform, wearing the Trident at any official place of duty or formation. These photos showing him wearing the Trident should just go away!

    1. I keep hearing / seeing rumors about Desantis wearing a trident, but I’ve yet to see this image(s). Can someone link to one in the comments here? I’d love to take a look.

      Rob V.
      OMK Founder

  3. I am a combat veteran with 3 Purple Hearts. For every one of us who were at the point of the spear, there were 4+ souls supporting us and enabling our mission and success. Most of them were also in harm’s way and many have been wounded or killed. Never, never discount a person’s service in the military because they were not among the 20% who actually went face to face with the enemy. All mattered, all contributed, all deserve the respect, support and admiration.

  4. Ron DeSantis was also a hell of a baseball player down here in the Tampa Bay area. He had some MLB teams looking at him and I do believe he had a couple of offers. He played for the Florida State champs from Dunedin close to where I have lived for many years.

    I have also never seen him wearing the Trident either.
    I am happy he turned down MLB as he’s been one heck of a Florida Governor as I have worked with this great State of Florida for over 30 years and Ron just gave us our largest Surplus in the State of Florida’s history.

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