MORE THAN SCUTTLEBUTT - The U. S. Navy Demolition Men in WWII

by Sue Ann Dunford and James Douglas O'Dell

MORE THAN SCUTTLEBUTT – The U.S. Navy Demolition Men in WWII
by Sue Ann Dunford and James Douglas O’Dell
Foreword by CDR (SEAL) Tom Hawkins USN (ret)
Published September 2009 ISBN: 9780615306643
[available by ordering online:

Ms. Dunford and Mr. O’Dell have compiled an exquisitely detailed and highly informative history of the earliest days of the U.S. Navy’s Demolition Men. Ms. Dunford’s first exposure to the world of Demolition Men began at the annual UDT-SEAL Muster at Ft. Pierce, Florida in 1993. Accompanying her father, John Dunford (GM1c, NCDU 127, UDT 24), she witnessed his first emotional reunion since WWII with many of his Teammates, and was awed by their personal accounts of wartime training and actions. Asked by several former NCDU men to assist them in locating old Teammates, Ms. Dunford agreed, but soon found the scope of her investigations widening. Her research resulted in a rapidly growing collection of information and she began to wonder if it was possible to account for all of the NCDU and UDT men of WWII and their history. She ultimately determined to undertake that task and this book is the result of that effort.

In 2004 Ms. Dunford was joined in her endeavor by Mr. James Douglas O’Dell, author of “The Water is Never Cold: The Origins of U.S. Naval Combat Demolition Units, UDTs, and SEALs” (Brassey's UK Ltd; 1st edition December 1, 2000), and author of an article entitled “Joint-Service Beach Obstacle Demolition in World War II,” Engineer, April-June 2005. Mr. O’Dell’s book is credited with detailing the “historical precedents that influenced the teams, as well as their innovation and experimentation with tactics, methods, and equipment”. There can be no doubt that their combined experience and knowledge related to the subject have provided significant contributions to this account of the earliest days of what is now termed “Naval Special Warfare”.

More Than Scuttlebutt contains a comprehensive description, from concept to realization, of the U.S. Navy’s demolition programs. It uses a remarkably straightforward narrative to bring together painstaking historical research, archival documentation, and gripping first hand accounts to create a fully-realized mosaic of historical details, and to bring order to chronological complexity. The book meticulously documents the diverse activities that brought together elements of the military, science and industry, coupled them with the tenacity and determination of very dedicated recruits, and created a very special group of U.S. Navy sailors. Interspersed with more than 500 B/W photographs, many of which are fully captioned, the work also includes a listing of more than 4,000 men who trained and served in the various demolition units, identified by name, rate and unit assignments.

The history is thoroughly fascinating and I highly recommend it for historians and non-historians alike; for those who served in the Amphibious Scouts, NCDUs, UDTs, or SEAL Teams at ANY point in history, for anyone who has a family member who served in one of those demolition units, and for anyone interested in WWII history. The attention to detail is a delight, and it certainly opened my eyes to the complexities of early Team history that I mistakenly thought I knew so well.

~Steve Robinson (former Navy SEAL)
Author of No Guts, No Glory - Unmasking Navy SEAL Imposters


back to main page