World War II saw a great leap forward in military technology, from developments such as sonar to jet aircraft. However, one basic human activity became “weaponized” and a very valuable addition to the U.S. Navy’s arsenal. Swimming grew from simple physical training and lifesaving into a warfighting skill designed to overcome German and Japanese beach defenses and ensure success in numerous amphibious invasions around the world.
A major center for preparing such combat swimmers for action was the Amphibious Training Base in Fort Pierce, Florida.1 Here the Naval Combat Demolition Units (NCDUs), later organized into larger Underwater Demolition Teams, mastered the aquatic adroitness to accomplish their missions in watery battlegrounds.2
1. For more on the training at the Fort Pierce naval base see Robert A. Taylor, World War II in Fort Pierce (Charleston, SC: Arcadia Press, 1999).
2. Robert A. Taylor, “The Frogmen in Florida: U.S. Navy Combat Demolition Training in Fort Pierce, 1943–1946,” Florida Historical Quarterly 75, no. 3 (Winter 1997), 289–302.
3. For more on the joint Army-Navy Scouts and Raiders, see John B. Dwyer, Scouts and Raiders: The Navy's First Special Warfare Commandos (Westport. CT: Praeger, 1993); for the NCDUs, see Francis D. Fane and Don Moore, The Naked Warriors: The Story of the U.S Navy's Frogmen (reprint edition, Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1995).