Fifties Frogs Magazine

Vol 6

Pg 3

SEALS – The U.S. Navy's New Frogmen by Phillip E. Carrico

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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.


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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 of 1950.

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 the SEALS.

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 countries.

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 major.
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.

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