Original WWII Underwater Demolition Team 7 Named Frogman Grouping with Bronze Star Citation
Original Items: One-of-a-kind set. Daniel Arthur Leavy, United States Naval Reserve received a Bronze Star with certificate for actions as a member of Underwater Demolition Team 7 during WW2. The original genuine citation reads as follows:
For heroic service as a Member of Underwater Demolition Team Number SEVEN, during operations against an enemy Japanese-held Island on June 14, and July 10 and 11, 1944. Fearlessly disregarding enemy rifle, machine-gun and mortar fire, LEAVY rendered invaluable service in preparing the way for for the operations of combat troops and, by his courageous devotion to duty, contributed directly to the success of this hazardous mission. His resourcefulness and gallant conduct reflect the highest credit upon LEAVY and the United States Naval Service.
For the President
Secretary of the NavyIncluded in this wonderful grouping are the following items:
- Original Bronze Star Citation signed by James Forrestal , Secretary of the Navy
Bronze Star Medal in case.
- Fantastic Full Body Genuine WWII rubber Wet Suit in excellent condition complete with attached hood and feet.
- Rubber flippers (left and right) that read OWEN CHURCHILL SWIM-FINS, Los Angeles in excellent condition.
- WWII Waterproof Bag BG 160 by U.S. Rubber Company, these were built for the BC 1000 radio but were a favorite of Frogmen to store their wet gear in.
- Original Honorable Discharge dated January 1946.
- American Campaign Medal in Original Cardboard Box.
- Asiatic-Pacific Theatre Campaign Medal in Original Cardboard Box.
- Campaign and Service For Humane Action Medal in Original Cardboard Box.
- WWII Victory Medal
- Various Frogmen literature.
All in all, this is an exceptionally rare grouping, due to the the rarity of the wet suit and fins, the unit to which he was assigned and the Bronze Star Certificate personally signed by James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy. An incredible piece of U.S. WWII Naval history!
History of the Underwater Demolition Teams in WW2
The Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT) were an elite special-purpose force established by the United States Navy during World War II. The first UDTs to use that designation were formed in the Pacific Theater.
The invasion of Tarawa in November 1943 nearly met disaster due to obstacles in the surf. Tarawa lies in eastern Micronesia. The islands in this region have unpredictable tides and are surrounded by shallow reefs that block even shallow-draft craft, except at a few narrow channels or at high tide. At Tarawa, an unusual Neap tide (a condition that results from the tide not rising or lowering as usual) occurred, leaving insufficient clearance for the Higgins boats (LCVPs) to get over the reef. The Amtracs carrying the first wave crossed the reef successfully. But the LCVPs carrying the second wave ran aground on the reef. The Marines had to unload and wade to shore. Many drowned or were killed before making the beach. The first wave, fighting without reinforcements from the second wave, took heavy losses on the beach. It was a painful lesson that the Navy would not permit to be repeated.
Admiral Kelly Turner, the Navy's top amphibious expert, ordered the formation of nine Underwater Demolition Teams. As with the NCDUs in Europe, the personnel for these teams were mostly Seabees. These volunteers were organized into Combat Swimmer Reconnaissance Units, becoming the Navy UDTs.
UDT training was at Waimānalo, Hawai'i on Oahu under the aegis of V (Fifth) Amphibious Force. Among both instructors and trainees, there were graduates of the Fort Pierce schools (Scouts and Raiders, and NCDU men),Seabees, Marines, and Army soldiers. Under the direction of Marine Amphibious Reconnaissance Company, they hastily trained for the attack on Kwajalein on 31 January 1944.[
The training made use of inflatable boats and included surprisingly little swimming. The men were expected to paddle in, and work in shallow water, leaving the deep-water demolitions to the Army. Marine Reconnaissance units would conduct the hydrography from shallow water to inland while the accompanying UDT would conduct the demolition and hydrography from near-deep water to the shallows.
The UDTs were organized with approximately sixteen officers and eighty men each. One Marine and one Army officer were liaisons within each team. It became apparent that a UDT assigned to the same beach as a Marine unit should be embarked in the same high speed transport (APD).
At that time the men in the teams wore Navy fatigues with boots and helmets. They were lifelined to their boats and stayed out of the water as much as possible. The next objective was Kwajalein and the original plan called for night reconnaissance. However, Admiral Turner did not want a repeat of Tarawa and wanted to know about the coral and any obstacles the Japanese may have emplaced. To find this out UDT 1 was ordered to do two daylight recons. In keeping with the Seabee traditions of: 1.doing whatever it takes to accomplish the job and 2. not always following military rules to get it done, UDT 1 did both. The missions were to follow the standard procedure with each two-man team getting close to the beach in a rubber boat, wearing full fatigues, boots, life jackets, and metal helmets, and then make their observations. But, team 1 found that the coral reef kept their craft too far from shore to be certain of the beach conditions. Seabees Ensign Lewis F. Luehrs and Chief Bill Acheson had anticipated that they would not be able to carry out the assignment following the Fort Pierce model and had worn swim trunks beneath their fatigues. Stripping down, they swam 45 minutes undetected across the reef. When they returned with sketches of gun emplacements and other vital intelligence, they were taken directly to Admiral Turners flagship, still in their trunks, to report. The planning and decisions of those two Seabees changed the shape of Naval Special Warfare forever. Afterwards the Admiral realized that the only way to get this kind of information was from individual swimmers and he relaid those thoughts to Admiral Nimitz. Kwajalein was a historic transition point for tactics in UDT history. Naval Combat Swimming had now entered the Mission Essential Task List of the UDT.
After Kwajalein, the UDTs created the Naval Combat Demolition Training and Experimental Base at Kihei, next to the Amphibious Base at Kamaole on Maui. Operations began in February 1944. Most of the procedures from Fort Pierce had been modified, with importance placed now upon developing strong swimmers. Extensive training was conducted in the water without lifelines, using facemasks, and wearing only swim trunks and fins. This new model created the image that stands today of the UDT as the "Naked Warriors". Eventually, 34 UDTs were established and were deployed in every major amphibious landing in the Pacific.
In April, Draper Kauffman was transferred from Fort Pierce to command UDT 5 and serve as senior staff officer, Underwater Demolition Teams, Amphibious Forces, and Underwater Demolition Training Officer, Amphibious Training Command.
UDT 10 was directly under the OSS. It had a secret base on Santa Catalina Island, California before the Maui base was operational.
The landings continued. Kauffman led UDT 5 in daylight recon of the defenses of Saipan and in a night recon of the defenses of Tinian. UDT 15 reconnoitered beaches at Luzon in the Philippines. UDT 15 also reconnoitered Iwo Jima, two days ahead of the invasion along wirg UDTs 12, 13, and 14. The UDT suffered only one man wounded in action. However, the next day a Japanese plane bombed their APD, USS Blessman. 15 men of UDT 15 were killed, and 23 were injured. This was the single largest loss of life suffered by the UDTs in the Pacific theater. At Iwo Jima the teams not only did reconnaissance but on D-plus 2 were called upon to help clear the beaches of broached or damaged landing craft. The waters edge had become so clogged with debris that there was no place for landing craft to get ashore.
UDTs also served at Eniwetok, Guam, Angaur, Ulithi, Peleliu, Leyte, Lingayen Gulf, Zambales, Labuan, and Brunei Bay. The last UDT demolition operation of the war was on 4 July 1945 at Balikpapan, Borneo.
The largest UDT operation was in support of the invasion of Okinawa, in March 1945. Veteran UDTs 7, 12, 13, and 14, and newly trained UDTs 11, 16, 17, and 18 participated: nearly 1,000 men. Up to that time, all UDT missions in the Pacific had been in warm tropical waters. Now the forces moved north toward Japan where the waters around Okinawa were cool enough that long immersion could cause hypothermia and severe cramps. With no thermal protection at that time, the UDTs were at risk to this during the operations around of Okinawa.
Operations included both real reconnaissance and demolition at the actual invasion site, and feints to create the illusion of landings in other locations. Pointed poles set into the coral reef of the beach protected the landing beaches on Okinawa. UDTs 11 and 16 were sent in to blast the poles. After all the charges were set, the men swam clear. The explosions took out all of UDT 11's targets and half of UDT 16's. UDT 16 aborted the operation due to the death of one of their men; hence, their mission was considered a failure and a disgrace. UDT 11 was sent back the following day to finish the job, and then remained to guide the forces to the beach.
The UDTs continued to prepare for the invasion of Japan until Japan surrendered in August 1945, and their role in the Pacific came to an end. Within months of the war's end, the UDT teams were dispersed. This ended a trying but evolutionary time in the history of Naval Special Warfare.
CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF TRAINING PERIODS, MOVEMENTS AND OPERATIONS OF UDT7
JANUARY 1944 - FEBRUARY 1944: Majority of enlisted men trained together at Camp Peary, Virginia.
MARCH 1944 - 9 APRIL 1944: Trained at Fort Pierce, Florida as individual Naval Combat Demolition Units as members of Class 5 and 5A.
21 APRIL 1944 - 30 MAY 1944: Formed UDT 7 and had further training.
12 JUNE 1944: Reconnaissance made of Yellow and Blue beaches on Saipan Island.
15 JUNE 1944: Post-assault work done from D-Day to D plus 5 consisting of buoying channels and blasting work done at request of beachmaster.
23 JULY 1944: Reconnaissance of Red, Green, and Blue beaches, Tinian Island.
24 JULY 1944: Post-assault work commenced on D-Day and lasted till D plus 2. the work consisted of searching for anti-boat mines on fringing reef off White 1 and 2 beaches and aiding in placing pontoons on these beaches.
AUGUST 1944: Turner City, Florida Islands. 11 days ashore for reconditioning.
12 SEPTEMBER 1944: White beaches, Pelelieu, Palau, were reconnoitered.
15 SEPTEMBER 1944: Post-assault work done under orders of beachmaster from D- Day to D plus 6. Work consisting of placing anchorage buoys and clearing mines and obstacles from Orange, Scarlet, and Purple beaches.
1 OCTOBER 1944: Fire of explosive loaded on deck of USS STRINGHAM (APD 6) in Manus anchorage.
16 OCTOBER 1944 - 14 FEBRUARY 1945: Maui participated in training of new teams and received a month of additional training and conditioning.
23 FEBRUARY 1945 - 15 MARCH 1945: San Pedro anchorage Letye, staging area and one practice reconnaissance.
MARCH 1945: Reconnaissance made of Yellow beaches on Okinawa Shima.
MARCH 1945: Demolition work clearing of wooden posts on Yellow 2 beach.
1 APRIL 1945: Post assault work done on D-Day to D plus 5 with Yellow 3 beach reconnoitered and beaches White Baker 1, 2, & 3; Purple Baker 1, 2, & 3; Brown Baker 1, 2, & 3. These last named group of beaches were behind enemy lines and were reconnoitered to ascertain their usability for unloading supplies.
7 APRIL 1945: Reconnaissance made of Red Baker 3 beach, Tsugon Shima.
9 APRIL 1945: Casualties suffered aboard USS HOPPING (APD 51) when hit by shore battery fire from Tsugon Shima.
1 MAY 1945 - 9 JUNE 1945: Based on Ulithi Atoll, Caroline Islands for reha- bilitation.
JULY 1945: Returned to states for thirty days leave.
15 AUGUST 1945: Boarded ship from Oceanside, California for occupation of Japan. At anchor Tokyo Bay.
14 SEPTEMBER 1945: Reconnaissance of Urarigi Beaches near Sendai, Honshu Island.
13 OCTOBER 1945: Returned to A.T.B. Coronado, California.
20 OCTOBER 1945: UDT #7 decommissioned.
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