Navy SEAL Museum Ft. Pierce

Clearing the Way

Frogmen & Special Forces in Normandy

7-Day Exclusive Tour | August 21–27, 2022

Normandy Beaches • Arromanches • Sainte-Mère-Église
Bayeux • Pointe du Hoc • Falaise • Chambois

National World War II Museum

Many thanks to our friends and colleagues at the National World War II Museum for making possible an unforgettable trip with memories for a lifetime. With the partnership of the WWII Travel and Education program, the Navy SEAL Museum co-hosted this trip to Normandy where our guests traveled the countryside and experienced history firsthand. Elevating this experience was traveling with 12 Frogmen of different eras who contributed their own experiences and insights. Special thanks to Ben Milligan as our guest speaker and historian expert.

Another trip will be offered in partnership with the WWII Museum to Palau in October of 2023. Watch for more information on that, coming soon!

Today’s Navy SEALs trace our lineage to the UDT (Underwater Demolition Unit) and NCDU (Naval Combat Demolition Unit) teams of World War II. Following the disaster at Tarawa in 1943, when amphibious vehicles stalled on a previously unknown reef, leading to the deaths of countless Marines, the Navy began looking into ways to detect and destroy such obstacles. Lt. Commander Draper Kauffman first came up with the idea for an elite group that would literally swim out to a reef or beach to reconnoiter or destroy any obstacle ahead of an invasion. Kauffman produced the nucleus of the training modern day SEALs go through, including “Hell Week” and Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training (BUD/s). The Frogmen of WWII went into battle with nothing more than Navy issued swim trunks, a facemask, a knife, a pistol, and a clipboard with a charcoal pencil.

During the lead up to the Normandy invasion, UDT and NCDU teams trained at Fort Pierce, Florida in amphibious landings before departing for Great Britain. On D-Day, NCDU teams, augmented with Army combat engineers, landed on Utah and Omaha beach. Wearing a full kit, including a 20-pound satchel of explosives, the Frogmen on Utah went to work blowing beach obstacles. The casualty rate among the teams was high due to the small amount of men in the units. On Omaha, the casualty rate was much higher. When the teams landed, they found infantrymen hiding behind the obstacles they needed to blow. Some of the obstacles even had teller mines attached to them. NCDU teams worked hard to not only blow the obstacles under fire, but also convince infantrymen to get away from the blast radius. By the end of the day, the teams suffered 91 casualties out of a force of 175 men, 52 percent of the force.

In August 2022, we are partnering with The National WWII Museum to bring you a unique and exclusive opportunity to dive into our history in Normandy during a tour of this historic region of France. Fellow SEAL Benjamin Milligan joins the tours to bring an added level of expertise that only he can offer, having done extensive research for his recently released book By Water Beneath the Walls. Also drawing on the historical expertise and wide-ranging archival collections of our museums, you will be taken back in history to walk (and swim!) in the footsteps of our predecessors, to honor those who served before us.


Benjamin H. Milligan

Benjamin H. Milligan
US Navy SEAL and Author

Ben Milligan became a US Navy SEAL in 2001 and served until 2009. He is the recipient of the Bronze Star and other awards. A native of Indianapolis, he received a BA in History at Purdue University and an MA in International Relations at the University of San Diego. His first book By Water Beneath the Walls was released in 2021. Told through the eyes of notable leaders and racing from one longshot, haircurling raid to the next, this book is a tale of the unit’s heroic naval predecessors, and the evolution of the SEALs themselves. But it’s also the story of the forging of American special operations as a whole—and how the SEALs emerged from the fires as America’s first permanent commando force, when again and again some other unit seemed predestined to seize that role. Milligan thrillingly captures the outsize feats of the SEALs’ frogmen forefathers in World War II, the Korean War, and elsewhere, even as he plunges us into the second front of interservice rivalries and personal ambition that shaped the SEALs’ evolution. In equally vivid, masterful detail, he chronicles key early missions undertaken by units like the Marine Raiders, Army Rangers, and Green Berets, showing us how these fateful, bloody moments helped create the modern American commando—even as they opened up pivotal opportunities for the Navy. Written with the insight that can only come from a combat veteran and a member of the book’s tribe, By Water Beneath the Walls is an essential new history of the SEAL teams, a crackling account of desperate last stands and unforgettable characters accomplishing the impossible and a riveting epic of the dawn of American special operations. Milligan currently lives in the Chicago area with his three sons.
CDR (SEAL) Grant Mann, USN (Ret) Executive Director, US Navy SEAL Museum

Grant Mann, USN (Ret)
Executive Director,
US Navy SEAL Museum

Commander Mann was born in Toronto, Canada. He was raised in Vero Beach, Florida, and enlisted there in 1986. He immediately reported to Boot Camp and was subsequently assigned to the USS Harry W. Hill (DD 986), homeported out of San Diego, California. After two years on board, he was selected and attended Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Training Class 162, graduating in October 1989. Commander Mann’s enlisted operational assignments include two tours onboard DD 986 as a Boatswain Mate, two deployments at SEAL Team FIVE, and seven years at SEAL Team SIX. Upon commissioning in November 2000, he was assigned to Naval Special Warfare Unit One in Guam as the Training Officer. He returned to SEAL Team SIX in June 2004 and was assigned as the Command Training Officer overseeing the assessment, selection and training of all command personnel. In May 2012 he was assigned to NSW Group-2 Training Detachment and completed his Executive Officer tour. He returned to SEAL Team SIX in 2015 and assumed Mobility Squadron Commander, then in 2016, he moved departments to fill the Selection Training & Enhanced Performance (S.T.E.P) director position. He subsequently returned to the Command Mobility Squadron in 2018, serving as the Squadron Commander until his retirement in May 2020. His operational overseas deployments were in support of Operation Desert Shield/Storm, Bosnia, Philippines, Iraq, Afghanistan, and East Africa. He trained with foreign forces from Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Canada, Australia, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Japan, Korea, Tonga, France, Germany, and the UK. Commander Mann is the recipient of a Bronze Star Medal and numerous other awards over his 34 years of service.

He and wife Wendy have been married for 34 years and have a daughter, Savannah, and son, Breton. He presently serves as the Executive Director of the National Navy SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Florida.

  • Full-time logistical tour manager
  • Expert local battlefield guides
  • Roundtrip airport transfers (when arriving and departing on scheduled group tour dates)
  • Five nights accommodations at the Manoir de Mathan boutique hotel and one night at the Sheraton Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport
  • Private, first-class air conditioned motor coach transportation
  • VIP access to sites not offered on other tours
  • Entrance fees to all sites, museums, and historic attractions in itinerary
  • Video oral-history presentations from the Museum collection
  • Personal listening devices on all included touring
  • Included gratuities to guides, drivers, porters, and servers
  • 6 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 1 Reception, 3 Dinners
  • Coffee, water, soft drinks, beer, house wines included with lunches and dinners
  • Welcome and Farewell receptions
  • Informative map book including useful battlefield maps and archival images to be used throughout the journey
  • Personalized luggage tags and name badge

The Itinerary