Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Veterans Honored During Navy UDT-SEAL Muster XXV

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Trevor Andersen, Naval Special Warfare Group 2 Public Affairs

FORT PIERCE, Fla. (NNS) -- The National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum hosted its annual Veterans Day ceremony and Muster XXV Nov. 6-7 at Fort Pierce, Fla.

The two-day celebration featured several events open to the public, including a 5K run, a memorial ceremony in honor of Veterans Day, and a live capabilities demonstration performed by East Coast-based Navy SEALs.

The Veterans Day ceremony included remarks from Adm. Eric Olson, commander, U.S. Special Operations Command; Tom Norris, former SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient; and Chris Cassidy, a NASA astronaut and SEAL, who presented a challenge coin he carried with him on his recent space missions.

Retired SEAL Capt. Michael R. Howard, executive director of the museum, began the ceremony by recognizing naval special warfare personnel in attendance from every era of Navy special operations, beginning with World War II scouts and raiders, from underwater demolition teams, to present-day SEALs.

"This is a celebration of Veterans Day, first and foremost," said Howard. "I feel privileged to be part of the team that created a museum worthy of the great men it represents."

Fort Pierce has a significant place in the history and heritage of naval special warfare. Established in 1943 by Lt. Draper Kaufman, who is considered the father of naval combat demolition, the installation served as the very first training site for Navy frogmen.

"All SEALs, one way or another, can trace their lineage to Draper Kaufman and the training he established here," said Olson.

The festivities continued with a live capabilities demonstration by East Coast-based Navy SEALs, which showcased the specialized training and unique skills of naval special warfare operators. The SEALs demonstrated a fast rope insertion from a hovering helicopter, and performed a simulated fire-fight with role players.

Veterans and family members gathered at the beach just outside of the museum Nov. 7 to honor 82 members of the naval special warfare community, active duty and Retired, who have passed since last year.

At sunrise, retired chaplain, Capt. Robert Bedingfield, who currently serves as the museum's chaplain, read the names of all the 82 frogmen and led the crowd in prayer. A detail of SEAL swimmers then delivered the ashes of ten of the fallen to their final resting place at sea, in accordance with their wishes.

Following the muster, the museum board of directors hosted a dedication ceremony for the new UDT-SEAL memorial that took two years to research and build on the grounds of the museum.

The memorial featured a wall with the names of all 252 naval special warfare personnel who have died in the line of duty since WWII and a bronze statue of a UDT diver.

"Never has the country asked so much from so few, for so long," said Olson. "This memorial recognizes the human cost of extraordinary service."

Below is an earlier post on the Navy UDT-SEAL Museum:


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