Virginia Beach Monument – Navy SEALS from Frogmen to Elite Fighters
A new monument was unveiled in Virginia Beach on Thursday, one to memorialize the 75 year old elite unit known as Navy SEALs. But they didn’t start out as SEALs, they began as Scouts and Raiders.
The monument depicts the rich history of the SEAL program and the city’s part in their story. The monument’s centerpiece is a statue of a Naked Warrior that stands six feet tall. At the monument’s base is sand from more than 100 locations worldwide, where important missions have been carried out. Along the back portion of the tribute, there are 292 gold stars for every Navy SEAL killed in the line of duty and eight paw prints for their fallen K-9s.
The Naked Warrior is purposefully life-sized, rather than larger than life, like some other statues along the boardwalk. It’s a quiet nod to the SEAL mindset that they should be ordinary men who do extraordinary things.
“That’s the way it should be. The original frogman, a quiet professional, yet representing all of our community in a great way,” said Steve Gonzalez with the UDT-SEAL Association, who came out for the unveiling.
Scouts and Raiders- Frogmen
The Scout and Raiders were originally formed 8 months after Pearl Harbor in 1942 as an Army-Navy beach recon unit. They underwent intensive training at Little Creek, Virginia’s Amphibious Training Base. Their first deployment to Africa earned the men of the unit 8 Navy Crosses. Soon they were moved to Fort Pierce, Florida. The Navy’s UDT-SEAL museum is located there today.
But their history is much more than those few sentences.
According to navyfrogmen.com,
After North Africa, the Scouts and Raiders participated in landings in Sicily, Salerno, Anzio, the Adriatic, Normandy, and Southern France. They also served in the Pacific on a variety of assignments, as Beachmasters, UDTs, and even helped train Nationalist Chinese guerrillas for operations against Japanese forces.
The nearly disastrous Marine landing at Tarawa in WWII spurred the Navy to create teams of UDT (Underwater Demolition Teams) –specialists who would remove obstacles prior to amphibious landings.
SEAL history in that regard is only part of the story. From the institution of “Hell Week” in their training to the beginnings with 4 specialized units from the UDT to the OSS, the SEALs we know today have a long and storied history.
SEALS- Sea, Air, Land teams
“Today’s Naked Warriors — the SEALs — have evolved to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities to fight and win against our enemies and protect our sacred homelands, its freedom and its values.” Rear Admiral Tim Szymanski, Commander Naval Special Warfare Command
The monument was not created by the Navy, but by the efforts of one man: retired Navy SEAL Capt. Rick Woolard. He obtained the private funding, the workers, and the city of Virginia Beach has agreed to maintain the monument.
The Monument at the Virginia Beach waterfront is not the only monument to Navy SEALS in the U.S., but it is a fitting one.
Featured photo via Twitter