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Original U.S. WWII Japanese Aircraft Part Brought Home By Underwater Demolition Team 18 Member - Chesley F. Rutledge

Regular price $295.00

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT), or frogmen, were amphibious units created by the United States Navy during World War II with specialized non-tactical missions. They were predecessors of the navy's current SEAL teams.

Their primary WWII function began with reconnaissance and underwater demolition of natural or man-made obstacles obstructing amphibious landings. Postwar they transitioned to scuba gear changing their capabilities. With that they came to be considered more elite and tactical during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. UDTs were pioneers in underwater demolition, closed-circuit diving, combat swimming, and midget submarine (dry and wet submersible) operations. They later were tasked with ensuring recovery of space capsules and astronauts after splash down in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space flight programs. Commando training was added making them the forerunner to the United States Navy SEAL program that exists today.

In 1983, after additional SEAL training, the UDTs were re-designated as SEAL Teams or Swimmer Delivery Vehicle Teams (SDVTs). SDVTs have since been re-designated SEAL Delivery Vehicle Teams.

This aircraft part was allegedly recovered from a sunken Japanese Zero by Chesley F. Rutledge Jr, a member of UDT 18. During a mission in the Pacific, his team and another were setting charges when he discovered the sunken aircraft. He swam down into the cockpit and for some reason set his sights on a “gauge face”. While he wasn’t paying attention to the mission on hand, one of the teams unfortunately lost their lives due to a premature explosion for reasons unknown. At this point Rutledge was cutting free other explosives when the ones closest to him detonated. He claimed that he was blown 80 feet out of the water and survived. He woke up 6 days later with this gauge face still in his hand. A handwritten account by Rutledge in 2002 is located on the back of the frame.

The frame consists of 2 scanned copies of 4th Platoon UDT 18 and UDT 18 as a whole, with Rutledge marked. In the lower left corner is a small piece of circular aluminum and has handwritten numbers and letters in English and with what appears to be pencil.

Comes in a very lovely frame and ready to display.

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