Bill Dawson, the last original Frogman member, celebrates his 94th birthday.

Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Nathan Laird/DVIDS

Last living original Frogman celebrates 94th birthday

April 22, 2019 - 4:15 pm

By Ben Krimmel

The last living member of the original Navy SEALs celebrated his 94th birthday Thursday in Washington.

Bill Dawson is the last surviving member of the very first Naval Combat Demolition Unit. More commonly known as frogmen, these men served as the precursor of the Underwater Demolition Teams and today's Navy SEALs, a legacy Dawson remains proud of.

“Knowing today what I helped start developed into what it is today. It’s one of the greatest outfits in the world,” Dawson told Washington's NBC4.

On a day shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, while working in Washington's Navy Yard, Dawson took off from work and went to join the Navy. He was 17 years old.

Dawson joined the NCDU in 1943 and served in the Pacific Theater of Operations during the Second World War, participating in 12 invasions during the war. He chronicled his time as a Frogman in the book, "Before They Were SEALs They Were Frogs."

“He would talk to you for hours about all of the travels he did, all of the experience he gained and it just made him really proud of his service,” Dawson’s granddaughter Sherrie Soos said. 

"It makes me feel good to know what we started," Dawson said.

After his service, Dawson joined the D.C. Fire Department and served for over 20 years. 

Surrounded by friends, family, and colleagues from the fire department, Dawson celebrated his 94th birthday Thursday, April 18. 

“He’s part of that brotherhood in the fire department for one,” friend Greg Turnell said. “He’s done a lot for our country and our community.”

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