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Naked Warrior

Glorietta Bay Coronado, California
The third Naked Warrior installation was dedicated in Coronado, California on Veterans Day, November 11, 2016. It represents one of the four locations where UDTs got their start: Ft. Pierce, Florida; Bellows, Hawaii; Coronado, California; and Little Creek, Virginia.

At the Bellows commemorative dedication in Hawaii, someone suggested we should really have one at BUD/S. Brian Barbata, Class 52, contacted Bob Rohrbach at the Bucklew Center, who put together a meeting with NAVFAC and JAG. Based on that meeting, Barbata contacted Tom Hawkins and Rick Kaiser at the Museum to solicit their support again. The prospective location was at the trainee exit to the beach, with IBS storage and a large boulder that was a class gift. But the more Barbata pushed, the deeper and more complicated the project became. Part of the problem was the billion-dollar move of the Teams to Imperial Beach, leaving the BUD/S configuration uncertain.

Seemingly at a dead end, Barbata was ready to give up when he noticed that the American Flag on the Coronado City Hall was not being flown above the California and Coronado flags. So he called the Mayor. In a strange coincidence, Mayor Tanaka was from Hilo, and hid dad had been in the SEAL Teams. An immediate connection was made. The Mayor said Coronado would love to have a Naked Warrior, with a pledge to support it financially.

The project went from a Navy project to a Coronado project, with the Mayor assigning his staff to the job, a welcome relief with Barbata based in Hawaii. He brought The Chairman of the Navy SEAL Foundation, Admiral Garry Bonelli, into the picture, and soon the Foundation and the City had agreed to split the cost. With the City managing it, the joint team worked together to pick the site.

The statue is located across the Strand Highway from the home of Basic Underwater/SEAL training, affectionately known as “BUD/S.” In Glorietta Bay Park, he looks out over the Bay toward San Diego, with the Naval Amphibious Base on his right hand. This Base was the location of BUD/S until the 1970s, when it was moved across the Strand to the current location. It still is the home of SWCC, which provides boat support for the SEALs.

The Museum shipped the molds to the Deep In The Heart Foundry in Texas again, which required some repairs. The Foundry also said this would be the last statue that could be cast from the molds, unless another was made before the Coronado statue shipped out. At a cost of about $20,000, this became an issue for the Coronado statue, as once it was in place, making a mold from any of the three would be impossible. Barbata had begun talking to Rick Woolard about a fourth Naked Warrior for Virginia Beach, which would not be possible without a new mold. At his urging, the Museum agreed to fund the mold, just a couple of weeks before the Coronado statue was shipped, making the fourth statue for Virginia Beach possible.

The Museum shipped the molds to the Deep In The Heart Foundry in Texas again, which required some repairs. The Foundry also said this would be the last statue that could be cast from the molds, unless another was made before the Coronado statue shipped out.

At a cost of about $20,000, this became an issue for the Coronado statue, as once it was in place, making a mold from any of the three would be impossible. Barbata had begun talking to Rick Woolard about a fourth Naked Warrior for Virginia Beach, which would not be possible without a new mold. At his urging, the Museum agreed to fund the mold, just a couple of weeks before the Coronado statue was shipped, making the fourth statue for Virginia Beach possible.

The City of Coronado managed the entire design and construction process, including a renovated walkway, lighting, and landscaping. The City manager went to great lengths to research the origins of the statue and the original model for it, as well as getting official permission for Coronado to use the image. About 300 people attended the dedication, featuring an address by Mayor Tanaka and recognition of his father’s service in the Teams. Admiral Bonelli read the following inscription from the plaque:

THE NAKED WARRIOR
ARTIST: JOHN SEWARD JOHNSON II

This World War II combat swimmer commemorates the U.S. Navy’s Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT) and Sea, Air and Land (SEAL) Teams. They have trained and have been in Coronado since 1945.

These “Naked Warriors” swam unarmed onto heavily defended enemy beaches with explosives to clear the way for amphibious landings, hence their motto “First Ashore.” The concrete “Scully” on which this Frogman stands is typical of the underwater obstacles they risked their lives to destroy. Their legacy of “Never Quit,” while executing the most difficult military missions for our country, is still imbued in every Navy SEAL whose uniforms sears the Naval Special Warfare Trident insignia. On the beaches just south of this site, Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) Training goes on year-round. The sailors who complete BUD/S go on to advanced training and then are assigned to U.S. Navy SEAL Teams, becoming the elite warriors our country relies upon for complex and no-fail special operations missions worldwide.

DONATED TO THE CITY OF CORONADO BY
THE NATIONAL NAVY UDT-SEAL MUSEUM

THE NAVY SEAL FOUNDATION

DEDICATED NOVEMBER 11, 2016

The foundation under the scully reads, “First Ashore”, the WWII motto of the UDTs in the Pacific Theater. Many a friendly joke has been made over the decades, that the UDTs were always on the beach to welcome the invading Marines.

Submitted by Brian Barbata

Location of the Coronado Naked Warrior, BUD/S at lower left corner