Jen's family - Grandpa Hank

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He tells stories about his time in the SEALs. Here is a wonderful post on that (with photos) Check out Hank Weldon�s WWII Navy UDT crew helped pave the way for the SEAL teams An excerpt:
Weldon was one of nearly 40 sailors selected to take part in the U.S. Navy�s Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT), which were formed in 1943 under the direction of Rear Admiral Richard K. Turner, and eventually came to be recognized as the beginning of the SEAL teams.

Weldon, who will turn 88 in May, recalls that he didn�t exactly know what he was getting into at the time.

�I was one of a hundred and eighty recruits, and after we had graduated, there was an Army Master Sergeant and General [William Joseph �Wild Bill�] Donovan came through looking for swimmers,� he says. �Well, I had been a lifeguard at a country club back home in Tulsa, and when they said it�s for a swim team, I had to go and open my mouth.�

General Donovan was the head of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during WWII, the forerunner of today�s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The team Donovan was putting together was to train for reconnaissance, underwater demolition, infiltrating and exfiltrating by sea and intelligence gathering.

�They had us doing things like diving down ten feet and bringing a manhole cover back up, just to show what we could do in the water,� Weldon says. �After I graduated, they picked out four of us and told us, �Here�s your orders, get your rig and get moving.�� The unit did a bit of traveling before settling in to its new home, and Weldon says that they were still in the dark about what, exactly, they were training for.

�At first we trained with an Army Ranger battalion at Camp Pendleton,� he says. �Then we trained with the OSS at a yacht club in San Clemente, then we went back down the coast to Pendleton. Nobody knew what we were doing.�

The training intensified when the unit went to Catalina Island, and Weldon remembers stealth being of the utmost importance �We got a rubber raft with a car battery and a motor with a small propeller to haul our demolition equipment,� he says. �When we got to White�s Cove [on Catalina Island], we trained with the OSS. There were about thirty or forty of us, in big part there were ex-lifeguards and guys from the Coast Guard. For practice, they gave us a bunch of dummy TNT at high tide, dropped us off about a half-mile offshore and told us to plant it all along the coast while our COs [commanding officers] kept watch. One of the COs said he thought he saw something, but they didn�t see us. When daylight came, the tide went out and all you could see was the dummy TNT all along the shore.�
An amazing life. I am proud to know him.

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on January 26, 2011 8:36 PM.

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