Cover: 1st Frogman
Rowing the Rapids
SEALs: New Frogmen
Man's Best Friend
Little Creek Reunion '04
Naval Underwater Demolition Teams
were tagged with the “Frogman” label when people first saw them
practically living with their fins on.
Members of UDT
(Frogmen) training off Silver Strand in Coronado, California just prior
to the outbreak of the Korean War
The teams were formed during 1943 for the invasion of Sicily and were
involved in all European invasions plus the island hopping campaigns in
the South Pacific.
They were formed with the intent of having units trained to go in before
an invasion and blast underwater obstacles out of the water. This
permitted U.S. landing barges to reach the beach without having the
bottom torn out and many servicemen drown in the surf.
The Teams consisted of approximately 50 men each and were originally
recruited from the old Naval C.B.’s or construction battalions. At the
conclusion of WWII there were 32 UDT Teams in commission. By 1948 there
were only 4 teams in commission – Teams 1 and 3 at Coronado, California
and Teams 2 and 4 at Little Creek, Virginia.
The Teams saw action in all theaters during WWII and suffered up to 90
percent causalities in several actions.
In the early days the lung training was accomplished by using the old “Momsen”
submarine escape lung. After seeing the state-of-the-art scuba gear that
exists today–it’s clear that scuba technology has advanced beyond the
dreams of those early Frogmen.
In June of 1950, with the outbreak of the Korean War, things changed
quite suddenly for Frogmen units. Since all units had been trained for
clearing the surf lines up to the high water mark–it was quite a shock
for the units to find themselves going inland to blow bridges and
tunnels. It was also a shock to have someone shove Thompson Submachine
Guns into their hands when most of the men had never seen one.
[ top ]
The first Frogmen units to operate in Korea went inland and started a
whole new method of operation. The original units had no commando
training whatsoever but learned by doing.
UDT units disrupted communist supply lines to the point where their
actions were a decided assist in the U.N. Force’s retaining a foothold
on the Korean peninsula until McAuthur’s invasion at Inchon in September
After Korea the Navy Department saw the light and began training the
units accordingly. The new training included not only the regular scuba
and demolition, but parachute or “jump training" and all modern
hand-weaponry. Plus, I’m sure new technologies and methods undreamed of
by early Frogmen.
UDT Teams were active along with the SEALS in Vietnam. However, the
final UDT Teams were decommissioned in 1983 and the men were merged into
SEAL units have become the cutting edge of a commando force that is the
best trained of any elite unit in the world today. Evidenced by the fact
they were picked to spearhead the stab into Panama in December of ’89.
The unit’s objective was to prevent Noriega’s escape by crippling his
private jet and disabling his high-speed patrol boats.
These stealthy missions were accomplished–at a bloody cost.
When no “hot war" is pending, the units will fall back on dealing with
terrorism, insurgencies, narco-terrorism and instability in third world
SEALS were active in Vietnam, Granada, Panama, Operation Desert Storm
and other hot spots about the world. When we eventually find out what
parts they are playing in the current “Live-Wars” – I’m sure it will be
However they tag these cocky, devil-may-care units - UDT, SEALS, or
whatever–to me, they will always be U.S. Navy Frogmen.
Editors Note: This is the
story listed on front cover of Volume 5. However on the inside pages I
ran Bits & Collections. Phil Carrico, you have my apologies for
inserting the wrong story.