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Commemorating The Birthplace of UDT-SEAL Teams: Waimanalo, Hawaii

Update 12/2014: At a ceremony at Bellows Beach, Oahu, Hawaii at 1600 on 11 November 2014, a “Naked Warrior” statue was dedicated to commemorate the establishment of the first Underwater Demolition Teams to be formed one-month short of 71 years ago. These first UDTs were trained and deployed from the Amphibious Training Base (ATB) Waimanalo (Bellows Air Force Station); and, along with the other Pacific UDTs, were the true lineal forefathers of the U.S. Navy SEAL Teams. Continue reading here.

It is a little known fact that the foremost precursors of today’s Navy SEALs, the Pacific Underwater Demolition Teams, originated on Oahu’s windward coast at Waimanalo Beach.

In 1943, two years after the attack on Pearl Harbor, UDT-1 and UDT-2 were formed at Amphibious Training Base (ATB) Waimanalo, which was situated in proximity of today’s Bellows Air Force Station (AFS). These original teams were comprised of men from the Navy, Army, and Marine Corps. After their first combat deployment in January-February 1944, UDT training was moved to Kihei, Maui, because Waimanalo simply didn’t have the space or facilities needed for demolition training.

A bronze “Naked Warrior” statue greets visitors at The National Navy SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, FL. This statue represents the various legacy combat swimmer units, whose capabilities have been adopted and subsumed over time into today’s U.S. Navy SEAL Teams.

The statue stands on a “horned scully,” which is representative one of the many obstacles the UDT’s were assigned to destroy during pre-assault reconnaissance and demolition missions before amphibious landings could take place. It is a fascinating story of bravery against all odds.

A group in Hawaii is working in collaboration with The National Navy SEAL Museum to raise funds to reproduce this statue for placement at a commemorative location to be constructed at the beach within the Bellows AFS complex. The design of the project is still under review; however, fundraising has been initiated.

Tax deductible gift donations earmarked for this project are requested and can be made through The National Navy SEAL Museum. The project will to honor all of the Pacific Underwater Demolition Teams, while providing a permanent gathering place for current and future SEALs to enjoy, whether for family outings or private Team ceremonies in a secured area.Design: The design firm, PBR Hawaii, has produced a basic design for the site, based upon the Naked Warrior statue at the Museum. The Museum is providing the original molds, and has contracted for its production.

Location: Bellows Air Force Station is a large ocean front base, mainly for R&R, but still used for Marine Corps training. Bellows officials enthusiastically support the project, which will be centrally located, near picnic, restaurant, restrooms, and adjacent parking.

Cost: PBR Hawaii has produced a preliminary cost, which is estimated to be around $50,000. This includes the funding needed to cast, paint and deliver the statue from Florida to Hawaii. Part of the project costs will be offset by selling engraved coral bricks similar to that done at the Museum today. A local company has committed to build a pond in which the Naked Warrior will stand.

Timeline: The casting of the Naked Warrior is being coordinated through Rick Kaiser, Executive Director at the Navy SEAL Museum. The Hawaii Group needs to raise a minimum of $35,000 to confirm its commitment to the Museum. Once delivered to Hawaii, the actual construction of the Memorial should take no more than a few months. Groundbreaking has been tentatively set for November 11, 2013, Veterans’ Day. Dedication of the project will be coordinated with the Navy SEAL Museum, but likely will occur sometime in 2014.

Donations: Donations may be sent to:
The National Navy SEAL Museum
3300 North A1A, North Hutchinson Island
Fort Pierce, Florida 34949

Please write “Waimanalo Project” on your check.

*You can also make a donation online by clicking here. Be sure to indicate “Waimanalo Project” on the form.*

Thank you, on behalf of old frogmen everywhere, The National Navy SEAL Museum, and the commemorative working group:
Brian Barbata
Ron Seiple
Willy White
Hunter Stockton
Tom Hawkins