INSIDE THE TEAMS….

THE TIME TEAMS l and 3 REALLY GOT PISSED

by Phil Carrico

Frogman Movie
I can not recognize any of the guys in frogsuits. The guy in civvies is O. Mallard, who wrote the script for the movie, “The Frogmen”. In uniform is Ltcr McKenny, skipper of Team 3. (Picture taken on Silver Strand in Coronado, California – early spring 1950.)

 

Preface:
Both of the U.S. Navy’s West Coast Underwater Demolition Teams (Frogmen), 1 and 3 served multi tours each in Korea.
Team 5, who was put into commission late in the war, spent at least one tour. East Coast Teams, 2 and 4, did not participate.
 
   It was early 1950 – probably late February or March when this chubby fellow from Hollywood came out to the Silver Strand in Coronado California where Team 3 was training.
  Said he was writing the script for a move they were going to do on U.S. Navy Frogmen.
  Well, that got our attention. The fellow stayed with us for about 3 weeks – I mean he slept in the barracks, went to chow and even drank beer with us at Pop’s bowling alley next door to the Amphib base.
  He got to see all the training – even to swimming under the ships tied up in San Diego harbor and placing dummy bombs on the hulls. He went out on a drop and pickup, did night sneak and peeks with us - even came along when we did night rubber boat drills through a 10 foot serf. The fellow might have been out of shape but he was game…
  After 3 weeks he said he had all the material he needed – but before he left he promised that when they confirmed the actors and found the funding, he would make sure they used us as extras in the film.
  To say the least, we were a happy bunch. The guys were writing their girls and their Mothers saying: “I’m gonna be a movie star”…
  However, in late June the North Korean Communists jumped the 38th parallel and started steamrolling down through South Korea and our occupation forces there. Suddenly, we had something more important than being a movie star to think about.
  Team 3 had a squad in Japan when the fighting commenced. Team 1 quickly joined this squad, and Team 3 got there in September.
  During this time, back in the States, Hollywood had confirmed the actors, found the funding and was ready to start shooting.
  When they found that Teams 1 and 3 were in Korea, since they could not wait, they went ahead and shot the film using East Coast Teams as the extras.
  Talk about some mad froggies – you never saw the like; we were more upset with Hollywood than with the Communist.
  However, everything turned out well. When Team 1 returned to Coronado in early spring of ’51 – they learned that the first preview of the movie, “The Frogmen”, would be shown to them at the Amphib base in Coronado.
  This gala event happened on Monday May 28th, 1951. Richard Widmark, who had stared in the film, was in attendance with his wife – and he mingled freely with the guys and even had a beer with them in the EM club.
  Over the years, the bitterness of missing our chance to be a movie star has diminished – but a spark of anger will always be there….

Postscript:
Team 3 was still in the combat zone at this time and most of them missed the event. However a few of us had rotated back early (I was back but I had gone home on leave). A few of the other Team 3 guys made the event and they brought Team 3’s Warren Foley, the first Naval combat causality in Korea, over in a wheelchair from Naval hospital.
For Military Buffs, if you have not seen the film, The Frogmen, starring Richard Widmark – look for it….

Frogman Movie stars

Richard Widmark, who stared in “The Frogmen”, is shown talking to Team One skipper, LTCR Welch. Widmark had attended the first viewing of the film shown at NAB Coronado on May 28, 1951.

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