BLACKHAWK! was founded in 1993 by former Navy SEAL Mike Noell. BLACKHAWK!'s meticulous obsession with quality has made it the ops gear of choice for Special Operation units worldwide. Mike Noell's US Navy experience provided him the inspiration for the gear BLACKHAWK! now manufactures. While operating 60 klicks inside Northern Iraq, he had to hump "a ton" of gear by foot in an enemy minefield. The pack failed, dumping his gear onto the mine-ridden ground. "If I get out of this one alive, I will make this stuff the way it needs to be built so none of my buddies have to go through this," he remarked to a fellow operator. Upon entering the private sector, that's exactly what he did, making gear and packs in a garage and growing ever since. As a member of the SEALs Mike had served his country with distinction. While still at Basic Underwater Demolition School/SEAL Training (BUD/S), he was presented with the "Honor Man" award, given to the class's top achiever in academics and physical field performance overall. He was also given the "Fire in the Gut" award, an honor for exemplary effort voted by his teammates, the first time in history that both awards went to the same sailor. "I think that's the best honor I'll ever receive," he noted later, "because it came from the guys I went throught hell with for 6 months in BUD/S Training. That means a lot to me." Many of those former classmantes now use his gear in operations around the globe. With a network of loyal dealers, BLACKHAWK! continues to maintain its leadership in the tactical industry.