YNC Donald L. Belcher


Training Class 7 LCK Grad 7/51

(from Don’s book “Fifties Frogs – Journal of the Underwater Demolition Teams” published in 2001)


Don joined the Navy in 1947 at 17. His goal was to be a carpenter and he ended up going to Yeoman A school, the only student who couldn’t type. A helluva a note.


From A school, he was sent back to Ninth Naval District at Great Lakes, a helluva note. He spent two years trying to get out of there. UDT was his out and he survived UDTRA in Class 7. Afterwards he went on operations at Vieques, Eleuthra, Dewline, and in the Med on the USS COBB, etc.


Don left UDT 4 in 1955 for recruiting duty in Cincinnati, Ohio. Son Robert was born in Norfolk, a week or so before they left Little Creek – that was a helluva trip for wife, Betty. She had about twenty stitches in her bottom and the hills of West Virginia about wiped her out. Recruiting included a tri-state area: Southeast IndianaCincinnati to Ironton, north past DaytonHamilton, and central Kentucky, just across the Ohio River. The station was second in the nation in recruits per recruiter. A son Lawrence and daughter Barbara were born there.


He got orders for journalism school at Great Lakes in 1958. Then he was ordered to UDT 12 at Coronado. He said this was a shock as he figured they’d send him back to Little Creek. He was then 1st Class. He served under three CO’s, mostly in COMUDUONE because UDT 12 already had two YNs. UDUONE eventually became NavOperations Support Group PAC, Don made chief and – with Betty’s help, of course – had another daughter, Sue, and a son, Tom.


About 1963, Bob Fay, a Commander by then, came through Coronado on his way to Viet Nam. He said he was going to be COMNAVOP-SUPGRULANT when he got back from Nam and told OpNav he wanted Don back in Little Creek. Fay said they were waiting to cut his orders and needed only his letter of request. Don returned to Little Creek for his final tour of duty in NAVOPSUPGRULANT. CDR Fay was killed shortly after that when his jeep hit a mine. Don retired on 20 June in July 1967.


Don received three job offers and accepted the job of ticket manager at the University of Louisville that July. He said the pay was poor but benefits included full college tuition. He graduated from U of L with a BS – not the BS normally attributed to Don – in business. Two years later, he graduated from Indiana University Southeast with a Masters in business education. Also, he served as scoutmaster, taking the troop camping at least one weekend a month, and he served on many university committees, including the board of trustees.


When he began, the U of L athletic department had fourteen staff members and a budget of $300,000. He worked his way from ticket manager, to business manager, to assistant athletic director, to associate athletic director. When he left the department had eighty staff people and a budget of $8.5 million. When their youngest son, Tom, left grade school, Betty went back to nursing at the community hospital where she retired after twenty-three years, just two years after Don retired from the university in 1990.


They had five children, Robert, Larry, Barbara, Sue, and the youngest, Tom, who was killed in an auto accident, and seven grandchildren.


Editor’s Note: Betty and Don have been married 48 years December 2001, and I know they’d love to hear from you. Don’s spending his retirement in church and farm work – they own a farm about 110 miles from Jeffersonville – and as most Fifty’s Frogs know, writing and coordinating the accumulation of information for the Fifties Frogs Journal. James Barnes said Don was probably the only guy that could get that many stories from 50s Frogs.


P. S. At the time of this writing, February 2014, Don is alive and well and can be reached at popeye5@insightbb.com


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