Normally, when I go to Bellows Beach, (originally Waimanalo Beach), this is what I see and think about.
It's easy to forget the kids and I on an active, if small, military establishment. (There's no runway anymore, but Bellows Air Force Station is operated by Detachment 2, 18th Force Support Squardron.)
The other day, however, I noticed a lone figure, standing at the top of the beach. He was visible (from the park side) because some trees were recently removed due to age or disease.
So, I did a little research, and below is taken from the Navy Seal Foundation website.
It is a little known fact that the precursors of today’s Navy SEALs, Underwater Demolition Teams, originated on windward Oahu at Waimanalo Beach.
In 1943, two years after Pearl Harbor, as WWII raged in the Atlantic and Pacific, UDT 1 and UDT 2 were formed at Waimanalo, using Bellows Air Base as their initial training area.
A few months later, they moved to Kihei, Maui. However, the origins of UDT were at Waimanalo, a fact memorialized in the oral histories of frogmen who were there, and recently verified by the UDT/SEAL Museum in Ft. Pierce, Florida.
Years ago, the Museum commissioned the bronze “Naked Warrior” statue to represent the various combat swimmer units which developed over time into today’s Navy SEAL Teams.
He stands on a “horned scully”, one of the many obstacles UDT’s were assigned to destroy so that amphibious landings could take place from Normandy to Iwo Jima. It is a fascinating story of bravery against all odds.
Going to the beach just means a little more now...