Everybody has heard of the Navy SEALS especially these days after the killing of Osama bin Laden but did you know they were originally called ‘Frogman’ and that Fort Pierce is recognized as their birthplace?
During the early part of World War II the Navy realized the need for the covert reconnaissance of landing beaches and coastal defenses and because of this the Amphibious Scout and Raider School was established in 1942 at Fort Pierce, FL. From 1943 to 1946, thousands of men were trained as members of Naval Combat Demolition Units and Underwater Demolition Teams. The World War II Frogmen, also known as Green Faces, have evolved into the most elite fighting force in the world, the U. S. Navy SEALs. The Navy UDT-SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce is dedicated to them and preserving their legacy and history.
Some of the newer exhibits include a mock up the layout of Bid Laden’s complex showing the raid that killed him and the original Alabama Maersk lifeboat on which Somali pirates held Captain Richard Phillips hostage, we all remember how that ended. Other exhibits display many rare artifacts including boats and land vehicles and things used in training and recues.
The newest piece of SEAL history to arrive at the museum is a Mark V Special Operations Craft. This Mark V SOC is 82 feet long, weighs over 52 tons and one of only twenty. It was first in service in August 1996 and was used as a medium range insertion and extraction platform primarily for Navy SEALS. It was used in multiple operations in the Middle East and was deployed in more than 25 countries before being decommissioned and brought to the museum.
Another recent exhibit is the Alabama Maersk lifeboat aboard which Somali pirates held Captain Richard Phillips hostage.
It was at the home of Albert Stankie, that the idea for a museum originated. He and other former UDT Frogmen gathered personal artifacts and experiences from their service in World War II. The National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum, also known as the Navy UDT-SEAL Museum, opened in 1985 on North Hutchinson Island, in St. Lucie County and in 2008 it was recognized as a National Museum.
The goal of the Museum is to promote public education by providing the opportunity to explore the history of the US Navy SEALs. To this end the museum houses exhibits to educate the public on the role of Navy Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT) and Sea, Air, Land (SEAL) teams and to preserve their history.
When you first walk up to the museum in the ‘yard’ you’ll see exhibits include Apollo training crafts, a Vietnam-era “Huey” helicopter, and unique water craft and support boats. Some of these are the last remaining beach obstacles used for training during World War II and had to be recovered from the ocean.
Inside you’ll lean the history of Naval Special Warfare including the beginnings of Underwater Demolition training in Ft. Pierce. You can see photographs and artifacts telling the histories of the various units in the Atlantic and Pacific war theaters of World War II.
In the North Gallery you’ll find the stories of the modern era from Korea through Afghanistan. The Frogmen and SEALs have operated in almost every situation imaginable from hot, humid jungles, arctic waters to the space station orbiting the Earth. Come see the declassified stories and learn about heroism under fire in every conflict from Korea to Desert Storm and you’ll begin to appreciate why their motto is “The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday”.
It really is an intriguing place to visit no matter what age you are, its fun and interesting to explore the place. The staff is friendly, knowledgeable and a few of them have some very interesting first hand ‘back in the day’ stories. The memorial on the front of the museum is a 500-pound, 9-foot-tall, bronze sculpture of a modern Navy SEAL with all the names of the Underwater Demolition Team members – the “Frogmen” of World War II and modern Navy SEALs – who have died in service to their country carved into black, granite panels on the walls, a reflecting pool surrounds the sculpture.
Originally Published on March 23rd, 2013