Yes, that’s quite a jump from hanging out on the beach at the Jersey Shore to being deployed in South and Central America and the Middle East defending our country.
Just as it is a bit of a reach to go from a 21-year Navy Seal to running SOF (Special Operations Force) A-Team Adventures, a business Reed began in March of 2020. More on that later.
“I played football and baseball in high school (at Central High),’’ Reed said. “I went to Temple and I wasn’t good enough for the baseball team and didn’t want to try out for the football team. So they sent me to the crew team and I actually did pretty well.’’
Rowing for the Owls set him up for his first job on the Wildwood beach, which eventually led to his 21-year career in the Navy. Yup, from lifeguard to NAVY Seal. If they ever turn Reed’s life into a book or movie, that could be the title.
“I made some connections at Temple that got me a job down in Wildwood Crest,’’ the 48-year-old Reed, who grew up in Philadelphia and now lives in Pottstown with his wife Tricia and four children, said. “I was a lifeguard for way too long. I was trying to figure out what to do with my life. I applied for jobs with the Delaware State Police, the Pennsylvania State Police, was thinking about maybe the Philly police department.’’
Then a fellow lifeguard, who had joined the Navy a few years earlier, sold him with this one line.
“He was already in the Seal program,’’ Reed said of his friend. “He told me I should check it out. He said, ‘It’s like being a lifeguard with guns.’ ’’
Reed’s only real connection to the Navy was his grandfather who was on the Navy boxing team years before he enlisted in 1999.
“I joined with the premise that I could become a Seal,’’ Reed said.
After his basic training, he headed to Coronado, California just outside of San Diego where he began BUDS (Basic Underwater Demolition/Seal School).
“Looking back being on the crew team at Temple was challenging,’’ Reed said. “It also gave you that camaraderie you get from being on a team, participating in a collegiate sport. In that regard, I had some confidence going out to BUDS. … I knew my way around the water.’’
Six months of training followed by six more months of qualifying and Reed was a Seal.
“They give you a choice,’’ he said. “You could be on the West Coast in Coronado or the East Coast in Virginia Beach. Since I was a Philly/Jersey guy, I chose to come back to the East Coast.’’
His first assignment was with Seal Team Four. He would later be moved to Seal Team Eight and in between was involved with Seal Special Recognizance and Naval Special Warfare programs. Reed remained active until 2014. He then spent his final six service years with the Navy Reserve.
“They keep you busy,’’ he said. “Seal Team Four, we were deployed to South America. I learned a lot down there about jungle warfare.’’
It wasn’t all war-related, however.
“We were part of the detail for the Miss Universe Pageant when it was in Panama,’’ Reed said. “If you’re not in war, you may as well as hang out at a Miss Universe pageant.’’
When he moved to Seal Team Eight it got a little different.
“We had to go to Iraq,’’ Reed said. “That was the beginning of the end of the fun.’’
One of the deployments Reed could talk about involved backing the Prime Minister of Iraq for re-election. “We were essentially his secret service,’’ he said.
Reed served under Presidents Bush, Obama and Trump before retiring from the Reserves in 2020. That’s when he began the SOF A-Team Adventures.
“We got it all going, and we were ready to get started in March 2020,’’ Reed said. “Then COVID hit. Nobody wanted to go out or do anything. So we were kind of on hold.’’
Just over a year later and with the country getting somewhat back to normal, Reed and his team are ready to get SOF A-Team Adventures going again.
What does the adventure entail? Basically whatever you want it to.
“I learned a lot of skill sets that can apply to whatever you want to do. You tell us what you want to do and how intense you want it to be,’’ Reed said. “We have everything from kayaking to hiking to climbing to whatever you could imagine over a three-day event.’’
And the best part of it is that the customer gets to stay home. Reed and his team, comprised primarily of other SEALS he trained with over the years, come to you.
“There were other types of adventure packages out there, but you had to go to them,’’ Reed said. “We come to you. That was my thought process towards what we were trying to build: take the long trip and travel out of the game. There are tons of state parks everywhere. It doesn’t matter where you are there is something nearby.’’
SOF A-Team covers what Reed calls the Mid-Atlantic region, but it actually covers more. He will book an adventure anywhere (almost) from Massachusetts to North Carolina.
“After I got out of active duty service I worked project management for a couple of contracting companies,’’ Reed said. “Doing that, it just reinforced what drove me to be a Navy Seal, which was I was better working outside than in an office. They say do what you like. I figured I’d put something together that not only I enjoyed but my teammates who come out to guide with me enjoy and the clients do as well.’’