A series of interviews conducted with sailors that served as Navy SEALs and on Underwater Demolition Teams, the forerunner of the Navy SEALs, during World War II and Vietnam. The interviews were conducted by historian Tim Frank at the 42nd Annual UDT/SEAL East Coast Reunion at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story in July 2011.
For more information on how to access these oral histories, please contact the Navy Archives.
Ablowich, Dean A.
Date of Interview: 15 July 2011 and 17 August 2011
Topics Discussed: Biographical information, U.S. Naval Academy Class of 1960, academics, father not pleased with him going into the Navy although he himself was a Navy veteran, Naval Academy traditions, Herndon Monument climb, graduation, sailing, USS INDEPENDENCE (CV-62), ship selection and initial assignment procedure, earning qualifications, sailor accidents involving drinking, Basic Underwater Demolition School (BUDS), CO believed that his participation in BUDS would ruin his career, Class 28, BUDS training, Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek Viriginia, graduation January 1963, marriage, deployment to Arctic, repair of damaged POL (petroleum, oil, lubricants) line, blue-nose ceremony, UDT 21, Post Graduate School Monterey, computer technology, President Kennedy assassination, deployment to Vietnam, first impressions of Vietnam, working with indigenous Vietnamese people, salvage operations, Admiral Zumwalt's report on the readiness of Republic of Vietnam Navy to assume operational responsibilities, his injuries from a grenade, Bronze Star with Combat V, transition from Vietnam back to the States, no career pattern at that point, USS JOSEPHUS DANIELS, UNITAS cruise, "payback" tour teaching at the Naval Academy.
Date of Interview: 15 Jul 2011
Topics Discussed: Biographyical information, quit high school and joined Navy in 1945, went to Shanghai as many military were coming home, guarding a decommissioned APL, sold items off of the ship, returns to States and quits Navy, stays out for a month and rejoins, 45 year Navy career, service before UDT, USS MASSEY (DD-778), why he joined Underwater Demolition Team, UDT 21, testing of diving equipment, training, SEAL Team 2, Vietnam, always practicing, first impressions of Vietnam, My Tho, interrogation, ambushes, second Vietnam tour in Cam Rahn Bay, training Vietnamese frogmen, military funding problems in the 1970s, wanted to stay in the military, retired at 62, two retirement ceremonies, worked with America's Cup sailing race, Survivor (television program).
Burbank, William E. Sr.
Date of Interview: 15 July 2011
Topics Discussed: Biographical information, joining the Navy, first impressions of the Navy, SeaBees, Port Lyautey, Morocco, Naval Reserve, father served on USS INTREPID (CV-11) in World War II, storekeeper, USS JAMES C. OWENS (DD-776), reassigned to Naval Submarine Base New London, decided not to go into submarine service, Underwater Demolition Team, UDT-21, SEAL Team Two, Da Nang, Vietnam, Mobile Training Team, possible use of SEALS to demolish electric power facility during planned operations in Cuban Missile Crisis 1962, first impressions of Vietnam, view of the Marines who came in to Da Nang, Provincial Reconstruction Units, Tet Offensive, awards received, Purple Heart, Bronze Star, logistics of resupply, working with PRUs, lost cause mentality in late 1960s in Vietnam, treatment of dead bodies on both sides, SERE (Survival, Escape and Resistance) training, Jungle Warfare School, leaving Vietnam, working with foreign frogmen, BUDS instructor at Little Creek and Coronado, retired, loved the Navy, current public interest in SEALs, wrote memoir
Clark, Robert P.
Date of Interview: 15 Jul 2011
Topics Discussed: USS Orion (AS18), USS Grapple, UDT Twenty-One/Twenty Two, Nha Be, RVN
Date of Interview: 28 July 2011
Topics Discussed: Biographical information, sports, enlisted in 1943, decision to join the Navy, pattern maker at Washington Navy Yard, first impressions of the Navy, bugs at Fort Pierce, Australia, first combat in New Guinea, clearing beaches so that landing craft could get in, no proper equipment, Iatape (sp?), no one from unit killed, injuries on coral, sometimes spotted from beach, killed fish and hauled it in to beach, investigating a Japanese raft, looking for Japanese submarine off the Philippines, diving, rescued men who fell overboard, was home on leave when atomic bomb was dropped, got out of the Navy at 21, worked for fire department in Washington, thinks he could have been a good SEAL today, his commander Frank Cain, beer bash, going into the Philippines before General MacArthur, Kaufmann, he liked plastic explosives, using condoms to keep things dry.
Flockton, Ronald T.
Date of Interview: 15 Jul 2011
Topics Discussed: Biographical information, went to vocational school to learn carpentry, enlisted in Navy, became SeaBee, why joined Navy, first impressions, got out because kept getting deployed to Guantanamo Bay, reenlisted after a year and a half and promptly went back to Guantanamo Bay, Mobile Construction Battalion Four, joins Underwater Demolition Team, Class 29, presence of foreign officers, UDT instructors and training, UDT-22, beach sketches, missions during deployments, USS CASA GRANDE, best water was in Malta, USS RUCHAMKIN (APD-89), evacuating U.S. citizens from Port Haina Dominican Republic, process of doing beach survey, working in motor vehicle shop, wanted to go to Vietnam to get it over with, swapped duty stations with another person who didn't want to go, former process of enlistment advancement, initial impressions of Vietnam, back-to-back deployments, building a bridge, retrieving bodies from the "Perfume River", diving, Navy Recruiting District Philadelphia in 1970, CB activities in Vietnam, booby traps on the roads, using sandbags to protect the vehicles, rules of engagement, working with South Vietnamese, hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys, life in Vietnam, one incident at home with fire alarm, went into recruiting after returning, MCB-62, Diego Garcia, retirement and post-Navy career, misses camaraderie of the Navy
Date of Interview: 17 Jul 2011
Topics Discussed: Biographical information, joined Navy to be a frogman, enlisted 1951, first impressions of the Navy, Fleet Composite Squadron 33, Underwater Demolition Team school, Little Creek, training, UDT-22, USS CARPELLOTTI (APD-136), Mediterranean deployments, replenishing Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line sites in Arctic, equipment, recreation, SEAL Team Two, Vietnam deployment 1962, Mobile Training Team, Da Nang, training the Vietnamese, married Vietnamese woman, mission to Cuba during missile crisis, redeployments to Vietnam, Provincial Reconstruction Unit (PRU), Soc Trang, living conditions in Vietnam, PRU's equipment, first time getting shot at, Bronze Star, did not want to leave Vietnam but now doesn't want to go back, how they got resupplied, PRU operations, weaponry used against them, many casualties, misses the other SEALs, post-Navy career, remarriage, NAS Glenview, breaks leg in last parachute jump, retirement to St. Thomas and Key West, post-naval career.