The Show Specials for the 2021 Joe Show highlights a unique group of underwater warriors from the Korean War - The Underwater Demolitions Teams (UDT) of the United States Navy.
As such, the DFW GI JOE Collectors Club specials this year will be a 1/6 Uniform Set consisting of complete UDT suit in Olive Green, Swim Fins, Mask, web belt with KBar knife and scabbard, Demo kit with bag and dive board. NO FIGURE IS INCLUDED WITH THIS SET AND IT IS LIMITED TO 30 SETS! (No figure or obstacle is included in set)
The Club 3 3/4 UDT figure is being designed and made by club member Randy Thornton (with help) in the same color as the 12 inch suit and same accessories and is LIMITED TO 30 FIGURES! (PROTOTYPE PHOTOS WILL FOLLOW SOON!!)
The Korean War, which began 71 years ago this year, was a pivotal point for the UDTs, and a prime example of their versatility and adaptability.
Navy Frogmen Conduct First UDT Raid of Korean War
On the night of 5 August, 1950 a 10 man UDT detachment infiltrated from an transport destroyer in their inflatable boat to conduct a demolition raid against train tracks and a bridge-tunnel near Yosu. Swimmer scouts, swam 200 yards ahead of the boat in swift current, exiting the water at a seawall just below their target. After patrolling up a 35-foot embankment and making a hasty reconnaissance, the scouts signaled the remaining men to come ashore with the explosives. Suddenly 10 North Korean soldiers on a handcar came out of the tunnel and opened fire. One swimmer was hit and fell over the seawall. The other scout threw several hand grenades that dispersed the enemy, and this allowed time for the UDT men to get clear and back to their boat for return to their ship. BM3 Warren “Fins” Foley , who was wounded in the hand and leg, was the first U.S. Navy casualty of the Korean War.
New Kinds of Missions for Underwater Demolition Teams in Korea
During the month of August, additional UDT personnel began to arrive, and were committed to a continuation of this somewhat new mission–night coastal demolition raids against railroad tunnels and bridges. The UDT men were given the task because, “We were ready to do what nobody else could do, and what nobody else wanted to do.”. For the UDTs, the operational pace in the combat zone frequently found two of their platoons–approximately 30-men forward deployed to a particular Amphibious Personnel Destroyer (APD) for periods of six to eight weeks. Embarked UDT platoons usually ran between 10 and 20 demolition or beach reconnaissance missions while aboard the APDs; depending on weather and enemy activity. Moreover, individual UDT personnel were often away on temporary duty with other military or CIA units for advisory and training duties. This included the forward-basing of small teams on islands close to the North Korean coastline, where they stood alert duty with UN Escape and Evasion organizations assisting in the recovery of downed airmen.
UDT Weapons and Demolitions
Individual weaponry taken by UDT men behind enemy lines was usually limited to the submachine guns, pistols, and knives found most useful for the close-quarters combat that characterized most raiding missions. Though presumably available, sound suppressors for the weapons are not known to have been used. The men used a variety of demolitions in their work, but the standard Mark-135 Demolition Pack, which contained twenty pounds of C-3 plastic explosive was foremost.
Navy UDT Support of Inchon Landings: Operation CHROMITE
On 15 September 1950 UDT men supported the amphibious landing at Inchon, code named Operation Chromite, which resulted in a decisive victory and strategic reversal in favor of United Nations allies. UDT personnel went in ahead of the landing craft, scouting mud flats, marking low points in the channel, clearing fouled propellers, and searching for mines.
Navy Frogmen in North Korea Destroy Hungnam Harbor Facilities
On Christmas Eve 1950, following the Chinese attack that forced the UN evacuation of North Korea, an eight-man UDT squad destroyed the waterfront facilities at Hungnam, Korea by setting off over 20 tons of explosives after working for hours in severe cold, rain, and enemy sniper fire; as their support ship beat off Chinese troops with its 5-inch guns. The demolition operation resulted in the largest single blast to be set off during the Korean War and the largest non-nuclear blast since WWII.
Last Major Operation Before Korean War Armistice: Operation FISHNET
In September 1952, UDTs participated in Operation FISHNET (also known as SEANET), aimed to reduce North Korea’s food supplies by destroying fishing nets. Operations severely damaged the North Korean’s fishing capability, where the economy was based on fish as much as on rice. This was the last extensive UDT operation in the Korean War; an armistice ended fighting on 27 July 1953. For the remainder of the war, UDTs conducted beach and river reconnaissance, infiltrated guerrillas behind the lines from sea, and continued mine-location and clearance operations.
Predecessors to the SEALS
The US Navy continued to utilize the UDT units and increased their responsibilities until it was decided in 1962 to reorganize the UDT into more comprehensive combat units which today are our modern Sea, Air and Land (SEAL) Teams.