Ed Thelander, former U. S. Navy SEAL
BRISTOL – Why would anyone ever want to go into politics? It can be nasty with underhanded accusations by opponents as to your stance. They will drag you through the mud and think that its okay since the end justifies the means. When running the lobster boat races in Friendship all of a sudden a swimmer appeared on the judges float and he introduced himself as Ed Thelander and that he was an former U. S. Navy SEAL and he was running Congress. Well, there is no one that understands mud any better then a SEAL, but more importantly they fought for this country and truly understand what this country and its people should be standing for.

Ed grew up in Romeo, Michigan, which is a small town that he said, “had 32 miles of paved roads and 33 miles of dirt roads and I grew up closer to the 33 miles.”

I am always amazed how people a good distance from an ocean finds their way into the Navy or the Coast Guard. Ed explained, “My Dad was in the Navy, ’62-’68 in both diesel and nuclear submarines as a missile tech. He was on NATHAN HALE, SKATE, and HENRY CLAY. He tried to talk me into doing that. I mean it is cool and it’s a good tight community, but I have got to get off the boat. I have been on subs for SEAL teams, but you get on there to get off. It is pretty neat to transport four or six guys to get into our little wet sub and then go someplace and do your thing on shore or underwater and get back on. That is cool.”

That explains his interest in the Navy, but was there an additional push. “In high school a buddy of mine was trying to talk me into joining the Marine Corp,” said Ed, “and one day in history class he had this book he was reading about SEALs “Men with Green Faces.” So, I go ‘What is that?’ He goes, ‘That is SEAL team and I asked, ‘How come you don’t want to do that?’ ‘Oh, that is crazy, that is too hard.’ ‘Check.’ [He wanted in]. I ended up going to school for one year at Fair State University. I was on the wrestling team and in an engineering program. I studied about 2 hours a week, but wrestled about six hours a day. Finally, I decided to join the Navy and be a SEAL.”

Ed went down and met with the Navy recruiter. He added, “I had a guarantee to have a try out to be a SEAL. It is a contract, they sucker you into the Navy for six years, if you fail, you are in the Navy for six years. So, it is a great recruiting tool for them because 80 percent or more wash out. I didn’t. I went through Basic, then through Corp school. I didn’t know anything about the whole thing. There was that one book and talking to a recruiter, that was it. I didn’t really care, I was going to be a SEAL. Corp school was 8 weeks. Then I got my orders to BUDS, but they actually sent me to Balboa Hospital because my class wasn’t starting until x-date. I would just run down to RTC, Recruit Training Command in San Diego, found the dive motivators who gave SEALs their PT tests. I said, ‘I am Ed I am supposed to be in Class 163 so they fixed it. Usually, you have a pre-training when you show up, but I didn’t. I showed up, started and went through and graduated.”

There is no question that it is not easy to graduate and become a SEAL. Some people find it amazingly challenging and they pay to go to these training facilities, not associated with the military, and see if they can do it. Ed said it took him a year to recover from Hell Week. He added, “It is a challenge and it is meant to be that way. You learn about yourself. You have several tasks in there and generally all pair and group oriented, and you know to make sure under stress that you don’t become the individual. We had a guy that had done five full iron man, he was a Navy diver and he quit. You got guys that smoke up until the day training starts and they make it. It’s huge in the head. You have to have some ability, but I am telling you it’s mental gymnastics.”

Ed claimed the hardest thing for him was doing pull ups. He said, “On the island for at least one meal you had a challenge you had to pass to eat dry. If you failed you would go get wet and sandy, sugar cookie yourself, and you would eat a box lunch outside in the cold. Pull-up day I ate wet a lot. After BUDs I learned how to do pull-ups.”

Once out of BUDs you went to jump school, but Ed went to Special Operations Technician School, dive medical school. He learned how to operate the chamber and watch out for the guys and then he went to jump school at Fort Benning. Ed continued, “I graduated jump school and then reported to SEAL Team 3 and did a couple tours with them in Southeast Asia. Then I went to SEAL Team 4 and that was mostly Central and South America and the Caribbean. There was a lot of counter drug interdiction and training foreign internal defense. There was a little over the snow cap missions and a lot was inter-operations. I loved diving out of planes. I loved everything about my job, I really did. It was an awesome life.”

Following his tours in Central American Ed headed to Europe and Kosovo. “We were doing reconnaissance work,” explained Ed. “We were looking for some bad guys. Then I went to sniper school to be an instructor and from there I went to Afghanistan. Then I did a couple classes course manager sniper school and that put me at the 18-year mark. They said, ‘How about some shore duty?’ and I came to Maine to teach Navy Survival School at Brunswick and Rangeley. The black flies will carry you away. They will break someone faster than anything. It is shore duty, but it isn’t because you are up on the mountain 5 days every two weeks. They teach 22 classes a year, two weeks long. Another class was cold weather survival. I ended up doing a deployment out of here, I was supposed to go to Iraq with SEAL Team 8, but because I speak Spanish fluently, I was asked to go down Columbia where there was an issue, but they got rescued on the way down and I got attached to our unit in Panama.”

About this time the Chinese had taken over the Canal, which was not a good decision. “That was dumb,” said Ed. When I went down the first time it was like ’92-ish we had just started the transition, it was like a little America and when I went back it was a different planet.”

In 2009 Ed retired after 21 years and 3 months. He loved it, but his body had taken a toll, especially his neck. “I could have taken some different routes, but I started getting mindful of it,” explained Ed. “I started getting crazy headaches and that was due to my neck. My wife and kids liked it here in Maine, so we stayed. I was figuring out what I want to do and just started getting the phone calls and started traveling back with the SEAL Teams doing some training, then working overseas with some other folks. I was having a good time. I even became a volunteer firefighter in Alna. Later I became a reserve deputy sheriff. I was looking for the team again. I love being part of a team. I was still contracting down to Chile or someplace else, but then I would come home and I have got my excavator and I was digging ditches, grading a driveway or a pond.”

If you want to know the real reason for certain things that happen you have to find the person who knows those sort of things and Navy SEALs are such people. Ed has seen a lot of different crazy scenarios and that is why is one of eight who decided to run for a federal office. It was not because they wanted to go to Washington, DC, but felt it a duty since they did like the direction the country is heading.

Ed said his focus is first the obvious: high prices on fuel and food and the unnatural transition to alternative energy. He added, “We have got to do it, we will do it, but it has got to be smart. We don’t have the infrastructure, we don’t have the resources.” When asked about the pull out in Afghanistan, he said, “There was zero sense to any of that. There is no way you push people out of a secure base to go out in the middle of a city unprotected. I don’t know if you saw the video of the parade of our armament? The Taliban did a parade with our stuff, that is not good. Don’t think that won’t be used against us. Also, the respect we lost in the world and within our own troops. By serving my country, am I going to be hung out to dry for some crazy back door deal. Not good.”

Ed is also looking for transparency in our school. “Some don’t think that the parents should have a say in what is being taught at schools. People need to get involved in the school board or PTA and see what is going on. School should be about learning. Our education system has gone downhill ever since we started a Department of Education, why would we continue with that? Sorry, but students in Maine do not need to be taught the same way students are taught in New York City or San Francisco. All that stuff needs to be local, not state, back down to the town or the county.”

Another major issue with Ed is the regulations being imposed on our fishermen. He said, “The insanity of NOAA directing what our lobstermen are doing out here. Again, something else that doesn’t make sense. I believe in local regulations that is smart because you are looking at it. Look at windmills out on the water, which they want to put on the mountains in the sea. This is where all the sea-life goes. I can’t even picture a 9-foot link dragging on the bottom, 3:1 ratio, so that means a ton of bottom raking and they are going to daisy chain the power cables in between the windmills. What about the new line requirements to save the right whale. No one who has ever worked with line, knows you don’t tie a knot in the middle of line, that is why you splice. You definitely don’t put a weak link made out of ballistic plastic that is going to go through a davit under pressure. You get a surge, that is gone and so is your eye or… I want to find out why they decided to do that.”

Ed is like most: he wants cleaner air and cleaner water. He added, “But how do we get there? It is not by building solar panels with coal fired plants. It is a nice thing to put on your roof, but you don’t do solar panels in a field. They have a 12 percent efficiency rate.”

What should be known is that technology is coming that will make all this so-called green energy ideas obsolete in the not too distant future.

For centuries foreign diplomacy was performed by naval officers. Lord Horatio Nelson and Admiral Collingwood of the Royal Navy were two that had made major decisions in how things transpired in the Mediterranean Sea in the late 1700s and early 1800s. American officers also made foreign decisions during the Barbary Wars. The reason was they understood what was going on firsthand and knew the position they wanted for their country. Ed certainly has a background of foreign understanding and common sense to solve the issues that are currently facing us today.