William L. Dawson, Class #001 NCDU* Frogmen, Passes at 94 Added: Video Interview

| May 27, 2019

frogman
*Naval Combat Demolition Unit

william dawson navy seal
William L. Dawson

William L. Dawson, U.S. Navy veteran WWII and retired Firefighter of Washington D.C. Fire Department passed away peacefully at his home in Waldorf, Maryland on May 13, 2019. He was 94 years old.

William L. Dawson was born April 18, 1925 in Washington, D.C. Bill attended Chamberlin H.S. in S.E. and worked at the Washington Navy Yard as a young teenager. It was at the Washington Navy Yard, December 7, 1941 at the young age of 17, where Bill made the decision to join the war effort of WWII.

Bill completed his basic training in 1943 in Bainbridge, Maryland. After an unsuccessful attempt to enlist in submarine duty, Bill snuck into a line of applicants who were volunteering for a yet unnamed outfit that involved, “explosives and distant, hazardous duty”. Bill was among 42 Navy men chosen and assigned to Ft. Pierce, Florida that made up a small amphibious unit called The Naval Combat Demolition Unit, later referred to as Frogmen. These men formed the first class of NCDU and underwent intense training at Ft. Pierce, Florida.

The training came to a pinnacle during a week the men described as “A week of Hell”. This term stuck and still today Hell Week remains the final component to BUD’s training for U.S. Navy SEAL’s. Bill Dawson and his fellow Frogmen were tasked with clearing the beaches for General MacArthur’s island-hopping campaign northward through the western Pacific towards his return to the Philippines. From 1943 to 1945 Bill and his small team of Frogmen, NCDU #2 & #3 led by LT. (jg) Kain, made 12 invasions in the Pacific theater, from New Guinea, through the Philippines to Borneo.

These early amphibious warriors have evolved into and paved the way for nine Navy SEAL teams. Up until his death, Bill was the last surviving member of Class #001 NCDU Frogmen.

After his discharge from the Navy, Bill longed for a job that resembled the excitement and brotherhood of his Navy days. He found this career with the D.C. Fire Department. Bill served with the D.C.F.D. Engine 8, from 1949 until his retirement in 1971. Bill married his wife Eva Hoffman in 1964 and became an instant father to five stepchildren. They resided in Mt. Carmel, Maryland where they remained a couple for nearly 50 years. In 2015, with the help of Commander Tom Hawkins, USN. Ret., and good friend Lisa Merriam, Bill authored a book entitled, “Before They Were SEALs, They Were Frogs”. Through the course of several decades, Bill faithfully attended annual SEAL musters and reunions at Ft. Pierce, FL and Virginia Beach, VA, along with monthly D.C.F.D. retirement luncheons.

His wife Eva who passed away in 2013 and 1 stepdaughter Barbara who passed in 2010 preceded Bill in death. Also preceded in death are his father William A. Dawson, mother Elizabeth Howard Dawson, and sister Ruth.

Four remaining stepchildren, grandchildren and great-grandchildren survive Bill along with several nieces and nephews.

Bill led a life of service in both wartime and peacetime. His small team of “Naked Warriors” paved the way for future Frogmen and they left a wake of history and legacy at the stern. Bill enjoyed God’s beauty in everything, and he enjoyed all that life had to offer. He struggled with life issues but at the end of the day, he found his peace with God. It is only fitting to close his obituary with the final words penned from his book.

“I am blessed to have had the opportunity to stand next to the greatest of men and to call them friends and brothers. Though my time with the Navy was short, it cast a long, bright glow over my whole life. The Navy SEAL Ethos talks about being “forged by adversity”. I know we had plenty of that. Yet, adversity is not what endures in my heart. For me, what endures is the legacy of my teammates, the character and honor of good men whom I came to know well and to trust to the ends of the earth. They have steadied me in the worst moments, and our life long bond will sustain me to my final day”.
William “Bill” Dawson. …Rest in peace Frogman…

A visitation will be held on Wednesday, May 29, 2019 from 10AM until time of service at 11AM at Raymond Funeral Service, P.A., 5635 Washington Avenue, La Plata, Maryland 20646.

Interment at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.

Fair winds and following seas, Frogman. Posted in it’s entirety from Southern Maryland News Net

Category: Arlington National Cemetary, Navy, The Warrior Code, Valor

Comments (14)

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  1. Daisy Cutter says:

    Hand salute! RIP

  2. Fyrfighter says:

    Wow… not much more to say. Rest in Peace Brother!

  3. 5th/77th FA says:

    Godspeed and Farewell Frogman. A true Warrior being greeted in Valhalla as we speak. We note, again, the humbleness and the giving of credit to others in his quotes.

    Hand Salute….Ready…Two

  4. Hondo says:

    Fair winds and following seas, Mr. D.

    As a side note: the incompetence of the press never ceases to amaze (or disgust) me. Mr. Dawson was born on 18 April 1925; he could not possibly have been 17 years old on any day in 1941 (he turned 16 on 18 April 1941). Yet the article clearly referrs to him as being 17 on 7 December 1941.

    Either the original obit writer isn’t particularly good at simple math, or can’t write clearly. Sadly, neither surprises me when it comes to today’s journalists.

    • AnotherPat says:

      Hondo:

      Found his obituary. States the same information about Dawson being 17 in December 1941.

      Normally, family members are the ones who write the obituary. In this case, I believe a family member made the mathetical mistake of stating he was 17 instead of 16…unless they meant to say that he decided to join the service in December 1942, a year later.

      That would make more sense since he completed Basic in 1943.

      • Hondo says:

        True – and people writing obits often aren’t in the best frame of mind. So this one may not be entirely the publication’s fault.

        But one would also hope that either the paper in which the obit was published or the funeral home arranging publication – or both – would at least proofread the obit well enough to catch this kind of error.

        • NECCSEABEECPO says:

          Well here is first history of NCDU’s most of the first teams came from Seabees and units like EOD that had just been born.Reason they used explosives. Also NCDU’s differ from UDT’s as UDT’S did more of the Reconnoiter and mapping stuff and swim in where as NCDU’s mostly cleared the breaches or GAT clearing as they did on D-DAY. They mostly went in on rubber rafts and or Dropped by LCU’s or other craft.
          http://www.navyfrogmen.com/NCDU.html

    • Poetrooper says:

      Want a challenge, Hondo? Just try to find a “journalist” who can spell “Cavalry.” I feel sympathy for veterans of the 1st Cav because they must know with the sureness of death that in their obit it’s going to be spelled “Calvary.”

  5. AnotherPat says:

    Nice, short video on Mr. Dawson:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPa95uiIUy0

    Rest in Peace, Sir. Salute.

  6. A Proud Infidel®™️ says:

    Another Warrior joins his Comrades in History and Valhalla.

    *Slow Salute…*

  7. Poetrooper says:

    Later this evening I will raise a glass in a toast to the “Last of the First.”

  8. Toxic Deplorable B Woodman says:

    RIP, warrior……….

  9. Charles Kennedy says:

    Thank you
    I truly appreciate that mrDawson joined us at Breakfast
    an Honor to meet him
    God Bless
    Fair win And Following seas
    My Father Bud Kennedy preceded Bill on May 22 into the hands of our Lord
    Bud was a Boatswain Mate in Pearl Harbor during the attack there
    may they both meet in Heaven