In The Navy
Again following his brother, Ventura entered the U.S. Navy soon after graduating from high school. In the Navy, he joined the SEALs, an elite corps of servicemen. While with the SEALs, he spent time in the brig at least once for brawling in bars. Starting in 1971 until the end of 1973, he served in an Underwater Demotion Team-SEALs unit that was posted at various points in Southeast Asia.
While Ventura has told reporters that he served in combat areas a SEAL in the Vietnam War, he has always kept the details to himself, saying only, according to Pat Doyle and Mike Kaszuba of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, "What I did there is between me and the man upstairs." However, a former SEAL comrade of Ventura's, Mike Gotchey has said that his and Ventura's unit saw very little action, since the war was winding down by then.
Ventura spent part of his Navy time at a base in Subic Bay in the Philippines. There, he later recounted, he had the time of his life, partying at several of the 350 bars near the base every night, and meeting lots of women. He also began to develop the reputation that he would cultivate in later years as something of a rough neck, "a little bit scuzzy looking," according to one of his superiors, who later spoke to the Star Tribune.