The Origin of The National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum
By Captain Norm Olson (SEAL), USN, Retired
In early 1943, the Navy took over certain sections of the barrier islands off Florida’s East Coast and established the U. S. Naval Amphibious Training Base (USNATB), Fort Pierce, Florida. Training included instruction in the operation of all types of landing craft, including LSTs, LSMs, LCTs and on down to LCVPs. Additionally, Naval Beach Battalions, Joint and later Navy Scouts & Raiders (S&Rs), and Naval Combat Demolition Units (NCDUs), the forerunners of the Underwater Demolition Teams (UDTs), were trained at this location.
As a direct result of an agreement between the Chief of Staff, United States Army and Commander in Chief, United States Fleet, the Joint Army-Navy Experimental Testing (JANET) Board was established on 2 November 1943 at USNATB. Its purpose was to coordinate service responsibilities relating to the breaching of beach and underwater obstacles incident to an amphibious landing. Projects of a Navy character were assigned to the Naval Research Demolition Unit (NRDU), and those, which were of particular interest to the Army, were assigned to the Engineer Board, Fort Pierce Project. Both conducted projects involving experimentation, development and realistic testing of equipment and techniques.
The barrier islands at Fort Pierce, called North Beach and South Beach, were divided by a deepwater inlet that gave passage for ocean going vessels of moderate draft to the local port facilities on the lagoon known as Indian River. South Beach, which had only a dozen or so permanent structures, became a tent city for trainees. It was here that practically all of the conventional amphibious training took place.
North Beach, a wilderness of palmettos, sand flies, and mosquitoes, became the exclusive domain of the S&Rs, NCDUs and the JANET Board. In July 1943, the first NCDU class commenced training under the leadership of LCDR Draper L. Kauffman. In preparing for the training program, Kauffman requested the Navy S&Rs to compress their own eight-week physical training program into a single week’s schedule. It was officially called “Introduction Week,” but it has never been called anything but “Hell Week.” Kauffman and his officers went through the first “Hell Week”, establishing the precedent which still stands today that officers and enlisted men demonstrate the same capabilities and endure the same hardships. Overall attrition then was much like today, 65 to 75%.
In April 1944, CDR Kauffman, considered “The Father of Demolition,” went on to command the newly formed UDT-5 in the Pacific, participating in the island campaigns of Saipan, Tinian, Pelelieu, Anguar and the Philippines.
To assure plenty of targets for blasting by the NCDUs, Seabee Detachment 1011 on South Beach made concrete and steel duplicates of enemy underwater beach obstacles and planted them in the waters off North Beach. The cycle of Seabees fabricating obstacles and Frogmen blowing them up went on continuously until wars end in 1945.
Before the base was closed in 1946, some 140,000 men, 3,500 of whom were NCDUs, had seen some sort of training here. After the base was closed, the area returned to normal. With the rapid post World War II growth, there were no signs or anything else to let the tourists and new settlers know that Fort Pierce was once the site of a vital naval base during World War II.
The Idea of a UDT Museum Is Born
It was not until 1981 that this training area came back to life in the memories of several vintage UDTs who held a reunion in Fort Pierce. Bob Pfister, a local resident and former member of UDT-15 coordinated the reunion. He invited several community officials to participate, including Tom Kindred of the St. Lucie Parks and Recreation Department and Dick Schmidt of the Chamber of Commerce. The enthusiasm of the once-young Frogmen was infectious, so much so that it encouraged the community officials to commence discussing the need to (1) pursue community support to preserve their memories, (2) let the public know the role played by the community in the war effort, and (3) honor the service of the men who trained at the USNATB.
After months of discussion, it soon became apparent that a war museum of some kind would serve this purpose. An informal committee was formed to decide on a theme and to acquire a site. The committee was comprised of a loose confederation of 15-20 volunteers led by Schmidt, Kindred, Larry Adams a friend of many whom had served in UDT, and three other locals who were former Navy Frogmen, Al Stankie, Dan Dillon and Hal Aschenbrenner. The site in mind was a building on a parcel of land on North Beach where the NCDUs had conducted much of their training. However, the County had given this land to the State after the war for an oceanfront recreational park.
In the seventies, when treasure hunting was in full swing along the Treasure Coast, the State built a museum on this property to display gold pieces and artifacts salvaged from sunken Spanish Galleons. However, this museum, along with one other further north on Florida’s East Coast, were not to last, as the northern most one was broken into and robbed. Even though the loot was recovered, the treasures were moved to Tallahassee for safekeeping and both museums were closed.
The Museum Gets Its Start
The Fort Pierce Museum was targeted for the proposed war museum, and negotiations began with the State to obtain this site. As a condition of transfer to the County, the state insisted on a suitable theme that would make the museum unique to the area. Since Fort Pierce was the only site for training Navy Frogmen in World War II, the UDT theme was presented and promptly accepted by the State. Although the transfer of the site was approved, the State did not provide any funding for its implementation.
Without start-up funding from either the County or other sources, the State would not relinquish ownership of the site to the County. Approximately two (2) years passed before it was decided to formalize the committee of former Frogmen and County officials so that affairs could be conducted in a more business like manner. In the spring of 1984, Stankie, a former member of UDT-15, became the Committee’s Chairman. In order to acquire seed money, memberships in the UDT Museum were solicited from local supporters and UDT veterans for $25.00.
In the early fall of 1984, in a surprise move by the State, the entire oceanfront recreational park was transferred back to St. Lucie County. On Veterans Day of that year, a groundbreaking ceremony sponsored by the UDT Committee was held at the site of the prospective Museum.
Retired SEAL Norm Olson Signs on as Founding Director
With the site now under local control, it was hoped that the County Commission would finance the operation of the Museum, but the appeals were ultimately unsuccessful. However, with my tentative acceptance to establish the Museum and serve as its Founding Director, the Museum Committee felt the Commissioners would look more favorably upon providing financial aid. In January 1985, the Museum Committee presented me to the Commissioners with the request that they again consider providing financial aid to the Museum. As a result of that visit, the position of Director was established under the St. Lucie County Historical Commission, with an agreed upon (9) month salary of $8,000, plus $2,600 for the Museum’s utilities and housekeeping expenses.
I came aboard on 1 February 1985 and was given the awesome task of completing the Museum in nine (9) months, so that it could be dedicated on Veterans Day 1985.
The early intent of the Museum Committee was to limit the scope of the Museum to the UDTs of World War II only. Had that been the case, the display of artifacts, documents and photographs would have been severely limited, mainly because the Frogmen of World War II were truly Naked Warriors.
As such, they had virtually no equipment, except fins, facemasks, lead lines, slates, web belts and KA-BARs. Additionally, all World War II UDT operations were classified either Secret or Top Secret, thus photographs were virtually non-existent. Moreover, it was years before the classification of most official records were downgraded, and even then many were lost or destroyed. In view of this narrow view, long term funding support would have been extremely limited, and it would have excluded the brotherhood of UDTs and SEALs that followed.
I recognized this conflict early on. Accordingly, my first order of business was to broaden the scope of the Museum to include all post World War II UDTs and SEALs. In concert with this, I played a vital role in establishing the UDT-SEAL Museum Association to replace the UDT Museum Committee. The constitution and by-laws were written, officers were elected, and the Association was incorporated in the State of Florida as a not-for-profit organization. Its purpose was to foster and perpetuate the UDT-SEAL Museum as a medium of informing and educating the public on the important role of the Navy’s NCDUs, UDTs and SEALs. The election of Dick Ward as President, a Korean War era Frogman and local real estate developer, provided a strong business like approach toward the Association’s development. During this embryo stage, the importance of close cooperation between Ward and me cannot be understated.
Prior to the establishment of the Association, the Historical Commission had anticipated that all artifacts and financial support in the form of memberships, donations and grants would go to the County treasury. Early on, it became patently clear that the UDT-SEAL community at-large was not going to provide funding or loan/donate their personal treasures to a museum in a relatively obscure county in Florida without assurances that they would have a say in its operation. Additionally, several successful former Frogmen showed their willingness to donate sizeable sums of money to a privately operated, not-for-profit organization but would not contribute to a government entity.
Moreover, the family of RADM Draper Kauffman had a significant interest in the Museum’s future. The Admiral’s Sister Beth, who had married Prescott Bush, brother of former President Bush, made it clear that they would not donate the Admiral’s memorabilia to the Museum, but they would loan it to a privately controlled organization for display in the Museum.
Their concerns were well founded, as most government museums have a reputation for often storing donated artifacts for future barter and many times selling them for profit.
In addition to gaining the full support of active, retired and former Team members from all eras, as well as their families, there were more pragmatic reasons for incorporation of the Association. Foremost, the Naval Historical Center, Washington, DC, The Museum of Florida History, Tallahassee, FL, and the American Historical Foundation, Richmond, VA all recommended it for (1) liability purposes and (2) to serve as the tax-deductible fund raising arm for the Museum.
All of these reasons led to the incorporation of the Association as a not-for-profit organization.
The development of the Museum during this first nine (9) month period presented a challenge that far exceeded my expectations. During the first few months, I wrote several thousand personal letters to current and former Frogmen and SEALs to enlist their financial support, locate former Teammates, procure artifacts, documents and photographs, and identify potential sponsors.
Monetary donations and memberships in the Association were considered paramount in order to reconfigure the inside of the Museum, design and construct display cases, publish a brochure, develop a video presentation, and in general, project an image to the public that would serve the best interests of the Museum, County, State and U.S. Navy. The Museum was also in dire need of service memorabilia, vintage uniforms, and articles of equipment, war trophies, photographs, documents, and even items that may seem insignificant to a prospective donor. I recognized that there was a natural reluctance to part with artifacts and items of historical significance; however, their contribution was essential if this unique, one-of-a-kind museum were to adequately reflect the history and exploits of the UDT and SEAL Teams.
My pleas notwithstanding, funding was a significant problem throughout, as it relied almost exclusively on memberships, and they were very slow in coming. Moreover, grants and large dollar donations were virtually non-existent, and the acquisition of artifacts was also painfully difficult, even with the caveat that they would be on loan to the Association for a period of (5) years with the option of retrieval at any time during that period.
Dedication Ceremony on Veterans Day 1985
While these challenges were as difficult as any I had encountered in my career, I presented St. Lucie County and the UDT-SEAL community-at-large a completed Museum on Veterans Day 1985. In addition to the actual opening of the Museum, it was equally important that the Dedication Ceremony be conducted with military flair, so that the veterans would be filled with pride and the doubters would have their faith restored.
My first order of business was to arrange for credible Principal Guest Speakers. Commodore “Irish” Flynn, the Community’s first Flag Officer, and Mr. Prescott Bush, the former President’s brother satisfied that requirement. While serving as Commanding Officer, NAVPHIBASE, Little Creek, from 1975-1977, I had established a personal relationship with RADM O’Conner, Chief of Navy Chaplains (now Cardinal of NYC). As a result, Father McMahon was made available to preside over the invocation and benediction. Unable to arrange for a military band, I called upon the local high school to preside. Since they were unfamiliar with most music associated with military functions, I arranged for the Navy’s School of Music in Little Creek to provide the appropriate scores for each instrument. The Drill Team and Chorus from the Naval Training Center, Orlando was arranged through SKCM Jack Saunders, a long time Teammate and the Center’s Naval Special Warfare Recruiting Coordinator. Through MMCM Herschel Davis, another close personal friend and long time sky diving buddy, the Navy Parachute Team was made available to perform at the Ceremony. And finally, I convinced the Officers of the UDT-SEAL Fraternal Order (now the UDT-SEAL Association) to attend the Ceremony, so as to help create an atmosphere of mutual support of both organizations.
My opening remarks at the Dedication Ceremony, while done in a humorous vein, capture the essence of this formidable task:
“COMMODORE FLYNN, MR. BUSH, MR. WARD, MS. RIGHTS, DISTINGUISHED GUESTS, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, PAST MEMBERS OF THE NAVAL COMBAT DEMOLITION UNITS AND UNDERWATER DEMOLITION TEAMS, AND PRESENT MEMBERS OF THE NAVY’S SEA, AIR, LAND TEAMS.
IT IS MY PLEASURE TO WELCOME MANY OF YOU BACK, AND ALL OF YOU, TO THE BIRTHPLACE OF THE NAVY FROGMAN.
FIRST AND FOREMOST, I WANT TO CONVEY MY APPRECIATION TO THE OFFICIAL PARTY: TO LUCILLE RIGHTS FOR HER FULL AND UNCONDITIONAL SUPPORT OVER THESE PAST (9) MONTHS; TO DICK WARD FOR BEING THE PRIMARY PROVIDER OF FUNDS, ARTIFACTS AND PERSONNEL ASSISTANCE DURING THIS EMBRYO STAGE; TO FATHER MAC, WHOSE CLOSE TIES WITH THE SEALS IN VIETNAM WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN; TO PRESCOTT BUSH FOR PROVIDING THE PERSONAL INTERFACE WITH OUR FOUNDER, REAR ADMIRAL DRAPER L. KAUFFMAN, THE “FATHER OF DEMOLITION”; AND TO COMMODORE “IRISH” FLYNN, A CLOSE PERSONAL FRIEND FOR OVER (20) YEARS, WHO IS NOT ONLY THE SENIOR NAVAL SPECIAL WARFARE OFFICER ON ACTIVE DUTY, BUT THE FIRST AND ONLY NAVAL OFFICER TO EVER ATTAIN FLAG RANK FROM WITHIN THE UDT-SEAL COMMUNITY. IT’S A SINCERE PLEASURE TO HAVE ALL OF YOU ABOARD.
ONE YEAR AGO TODAY, I VISITED FT. PIERCE FOR THE FIRST TIME TO ATTEND THE GROUNDBREAKING CEREMONY FOR THIS MUSEUM. FOLLOWING THE EVENT AND FOR THE NEXT (3) MONTHS, I WAS COURTED, LED DOWN A PRIMROSE PATH, AND FINALLY SEDUCED INTO BECOMING THE MUSEUM’S DIRECTOR. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, I WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT IT’S BEEN A LONG, LONELY, DIFFICULT PREGNANCY.
AS WITH ANY PROSPECTIVE BLESSED EVENT, THERE WERE MIXED EMOTIONS: ELATION ON ONE HAND; GRAVE DOUBT ON THE OTHER. ALSO, THERE WAS AN IMMEDIATE CRAVING FOR SUPPORT, BUT ALL I GOT WAS SMILES.
IN MONTH TWO, MORNING SICKNESS REARED ITS UGLY HEAD. ALTHOUGH WE ALL KNOW IT’S IN THE MIND, ANXIETY AND TENSION DID IN FACT SET IN, CAUSING A GREAT DEAL OF HEARTBURN. AT THIS JUNCTURE, THERE APPEARED TO BE NO RELIEF IN SIGHT, AND I BEGAN TO ASK MYSELF, “DO I REALLY WANT THIS PREGNANCY?”
AS I CAME INTO APRIL, I REALIZED THERE WAS NO TURNING BACK, AND I BEGAN TO ACCEPT MY FATE; HOWEVER, MORNING SICKNESS STILL PREVAILED, AND I NOW BEGAN TO FEEL PHYSICALLY AND PSYCHOLOGICALLY UNCOMFORTABLE. I EVEN STARTED TO ACT A BIT CRAZY, BUT IT RECEIVED VIRTUALLY NO ATTENTION.
IN MONTH FOUR, I BEGAN TO FEEL UNLOVED, AND I BECAME GROUCHY, PARANOID AND DOWNRIGHT UGLY. I EVEN LASHED OUT AT THE FEW FRIENDS THAT I HAD LOCALLY.
WHEN JUNE ROLLED AROUND, SERIOUS DOUBT SET IN, AND I BEGAN TO WONDER HOW I GOT INTO THIS JAM IN THE FIRST PLACE. INTENSE WORK, WAS FOLLOWED BY QUESTIONS, SUCH AS, “WILL IT BE ON TIME?” AND “HOW WILL IT TURN OUT?”
THE FOLLOWING MONTH, I BEGAN TO FEEL BETTER, SO I TOOK A TRIP TO NORFOLK, VIRGINIA TO SEE IF THIS UNWED, MOTHER-TO-BE COULD OBTAIN A HANDOUT. IT APPARENTLY WORKED. THE TRIP ALSO CURED MY NAUSEA, BUT MY HEARTBURN CONTINUED, AND ADDED TO MY DILEMMA WAS A SEVERE BACKACHE FROM THE LOAD I WAS CARRYING.
IN AUGUST, IT BECAME CANDIDLY CLEAR THAT THERE WOULD BE A BIRTH, WHETHER I LIKED IT OR NOT, SO I BEGAN ORGANIZING THE NURSERY, BUYING A FEW ESSENTIALS AND ENLISTING SOME VOLUNTEER HELP.
IN THE EIGHTH MONTH, I REALLY BEGAN TO FEEL PHYSICALLY UNCOMFORTABLE AND STARTED TO HAVE FALSE LABOR PAINS, BUT THIS WAS SOMEWHAT COMPENSATED FOR BY THE BABY SHOWER, WHICH BOUGHT FORTH GIFTS AND ENOUGH MONEY TO TAKE CARE OF EXPENSES.
AS THE FINAL MONTH CAME INTO FULL VIEW, THERE WERE MORE FALSE LABOR PAINS, INSOMNIA SET IN, MY FEET BEGAN TO SWELL, AND I WAS HAVING GREAT DIFFICULTY JUST SITTING.
AND, AS THE FINAL HOURS DREW NEAR, AND THE PAIN BECAME MORE EXCRUCIATING, I STILL COULD NOT HELP BUT WONDER IF IT WOULD BE ON TIME, OR FOR THAT MATTER, WHETHER IT WOULD BE HEALTHY.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, IT WAS A CLOSE CALL, BUT AS YOU CAN SEE, THE BLESSED EVENT TOOK PLACE WITHOUT SERIOUS COMPLICATIONS. ALTHOUGH THERE ARE A FEW ROUGH SPOTS, BOTH WITHIN AND WITHOUT, I ANTICIPATE THAT IN VERY SHORT ORDER, THESE WOUNDS WILL BE HEALED.
OH YES — I ALMOST FORGOT, THIS BEAUTIFUL BABY DOES HAVE A NAME, AND A NEW PLAY TOY (UNVEIL THE SIGN MOUNTED ON AN SDV). FURTHERMORE, ITS BIRTH IS IN HONOR OF THOSE WHO MADE THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE FOR GOD, COUNTRY AND THE UNITED STATES NAVY (UNVEIL THE MEMORIAL STATUE).
IN A MORE SERIOUS VEIN, I OWE A GREAT DEAL, TO A GREAT NUMBER OF PEOPLE, FOR PERMITTING ME TO PUT THIS MUSEUM TOGETHER IN RECORD TIME. IN FEBRUARY OF THIS YEAR, WE HAD VIRTUALLY NO MONEY, NO ARTIFACTS AND NO PERSONNEL SUPPORT; AN EMPTY BUILDING THAT HAD NOT BEEN MAINTAINED FOR SEVERAL YEARS; AND A GREAT DEAL OF SKEPTICISM, BOTH LOCALLY AND FROM THE MUSEUM EXPERTS IN MIAMI, TALLAHASSEE AND WASHINGTON.
WHEN ONE CONSIDERS ALL OF THESE FACTORS, IT’S NOTHING SHORT OF A MIRACLE THAT WE HAVE A MUSEUM TODAY. IN FACT, HAD YOU BEEN HERE AT THE FIRST OF THE WEEK, YOU WOULD HAVE SEEN ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, BECAUSE THERE WAS, IN-FACT, NOTHING, EITHER INSIDE OR OUT.
TO GIVE YOU SOME INSIGHT INTO NORMAL MUSEUM DEVELOPMENT, MOST EVOLVE OVER TIME, AND MORE OFTEN THAN NOT, AS A RESULT OF A FEASIBILITY STUDY, WHICH DOESN’T COME CHEAP. I READ RECENTLY THAT THE CITY OF SAN FRANCISCO IS ALLOCATING $73,000 JUST TO DETERMINE IF A ROCK-AND-ROLL MUSEUM IS IN THE CARDS FOR THEM. WE OBVIOUSLY DIDN’T HAVE THIS LUXURY, ALTHOUGH WHEN THE STATE OWNED THE MUSEUM, AND WAS GOING TO TAKE ON THIS TASK, THEY HAD PROGRAMMED $80,000 AND PROJECTED (5) YEARS TO COMPLETION; WE DID IT IN (9) MONTHS WITH LITTLE OVER $3,000 OF COUNTY OPERATING FUNDS AND A GREAT DEAL OF BACKING FROM THE UDT-SEAL MUSEUM ASSOCIATION.
I OWE ALL OF YOU A GREAT DEAL OF THANKS FOR HAVING THE PATIENCE, TRUST AND CONFIDENCE IN ME OVER THESE PAST (9) MONTHS.
PERHAPS TO MANY OF YOU, THE PURPOSE OF THE MUSEUM IS CRYSTAL CLEAR, BUT BEFORE I STEP DOWN, I WOULD LIKE TO BRIEFLY TELL YOU HOW I SEE IT. THIS MUSEUM IS INTENDED TO PORTRAY A TRUE IMAGE OF WHAT THE UDT AND SEAL TEAMS ARE ALL ABOUT.
IT WILL FOSTER AND PERPETUATE THEIR LEGACY, BY SERVING AS A MEDIUM OF INFORMING AND EDUCATING THE PUBLIC ON THE IMPORTANT ROLE THAT THESE TEAMS HAVE PLAYED IN OUR NATION’S HISTORY. OUR PURPOSE, AND BOTTOM LINE, WILL BE TO PRESERVE THE PAST, SO AS TO ENSURE THE FUTURE.
IN SUMMARY, I WOULD ONCE AGAIN REMIND YOU OF THIS MUSEUM’S SHORT AND ROCKY BEGINNING, AND ONLY ASK THAT YOU BE TOLERANT OF WHAT YOU SEE AND WHAT YOU MAY HEAR. IN THIS REGARD, I WOULD LIKE TO ACKNOWLEDGE LCDR JACK MACIONE, USNR (RETIRED) FOR HIS DESIGN EXPERTISE. I THINK YOU’LL BE PLEASED WITH WHAT YOU SEE. IF YOU ARE, TELL ME . . . IF YOU ARE NOT, TELL HIM.
AS I CLOSE, I LEAVE YOU WITH A QUOTE FROM TEDDY ROOSEVELT: “‘IT IS NOT THE CRITIC WHO COUNTS, NOT THE MAN WHO POINTS OUT HOW THE STRONG MAN STUMBLES, OR WHERE THE DOER OF DEEDS COULD HAVE DONE THEM BETTER.
THE CREDIT BELONGS TO THE MAN WHO IS ACTUALLY IN THE ARENA — WHO STRIVES – WHO SPENDS HIMSELF — AND WHO AT THE WORST, IF HE FAILS, AT LEAST HE FAILS BY DARING, SO THAT HIS PLACE SHALL NEVER BE WITH THOSE COLD AND TIMID SOULS WHO KNOW NEITHER VICTORY NOR DEFEAT”
By all accounts, the Dedication Ceremony was a success, with literally hundreds of World War II Frogmen present. The official party, distinguished guests, and other participants in the ceremony included:
- County Commissioners, St. Lucie County
- Mayor of Fort Pierce
- Commodore Cathal “Irish” Flynn , USN, Commander, Naval Investigative Service Command
- Ms. Lucille R. Rights, Chairperson, St. Lucie County Historical Commission
- Mr. Richard D. Ward, President, UDT-SEAL Museum Association
- Kauffman family
- Mr. Prescott S. Bush, Jr. and his family
- CDR Edward J. McMahon, USN, Chaplain Corps, Naval Air Station, Pensacola, FL
- Chorus, Recruit Training Command, Orlando, FL
- Drill Team, Recruit Training Command, Orlando, FL
- Navy Parachute Team, Coronado, CA
- Central High School Band, Fort Pierce, FL
During the first year of Museum development, the Scouts & Raiders (S&R) were not considered in the lineage of the NCDUs, UDTs and SEALs, even though the operations they conducted during World War II were closely akin to today’s SEALs. Unlike the UDTs, they were totally disestablished after the war, and their history was long forgotten.
From their early days in World War II as NCDUs, S&Rs and UDTs, to the present day SEALs, these elite combat units have been in the forefront of every conflict, contingency and national emergency that has faced the nation. The purpose of the UDT-SEAL Museum is to foster and perpetuate their legacy, by serving as a medium of informing and educating the public on the important role these Teams have played in our Nation’s history. The UDT-SEAL Museum is preserving the past to ensure the future.
In March of 1986, I decided to retire from the position of Founding Director. In late 1993, Andy Andrews, President of the UDT-SEAL Association, asked me to provide a preliminary assessment of the advantages for employing a professionally trained museum person with the requisite qualifications, including education , experience, knowledge, ability and skills. After several months of research and direct contact with professional museum institutions, I submitted a detailed report, “Professional Management of the UDT-SEAL Museum” to the Association President. Beforehand, I asked several museum professionals to read the report, and to a person they told me it was a blueprint for success.
In recognition of my contribution to the establishment of the UDT-SEAL Museum and the UDT-SEAL Museum Association, I was honored in 1998 by the Association with the establishment the “Captain Norman H. Olson Distinguished Achievement Award” to be presented annually to one or more recipients for service to the UDT/SEAL Museum and Naval Special Warfare community. I presented the first award during Muster XIII to Andy Andrews, a World War II Navy Frogman and Past President, UDT/SEAL Museum Association. The Achievement Award was subsequently presented each year to: Susan Aschenbrenner, Harold Aschenbrenner, Jim Barnes, Bob Marshall and Marshall Muros.