During WWII, Adolf Hitler knew that American forces would invade somewhere on the coast of France and fight their way inland. To prevent the invasion, the Germans constructed a massive Atlantic wall full of dangerous obstacles along the beachheads to combat amphibious vehicles from pulling up landing onto the shoreline.
U.S. forces had no internal expertise on how to breach Hitler’s solid barriers — so they turned to one man — Draper Kauffman.
After Kauffman graduated from the Naval Academy years before the invasion, he was denied an officer’s commission due to having poor eye-sight. Wanting to serve in the military, Kauffman traveled overseas and became an ambulance driver for the British. After a short period as a German POW, he went to London to join the fight as “The Blitz” was in full swing.
On the first day, German bombers had dropped 377 tons of ordnance onto the city — many of the explosives did not detonate. The government asked for volunteers to help with bomb disposal, Kauffman stepped up to volunteer and raised his hand.
Kauffman learned all he could about his new field and rapidly excelled at it. His advanced bomb disposal knowledge earned him a transfer from the British Navy to the American one.
Soon after entering the American Navy, an event took place that would change our history forever — the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Navy gave Kauffman orders to create a bomb disposal unit; he went right to work.
One of his first tasks was to disarm a 500-pound bomb located in the harbor. He completed the deadly mission and received the Navy Cross for his excellent work.
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In 1943, Kauffman received a life-changing phone call during his honeymoon that was to report to Washington as directed. His newest assignment was to create a plan to mitigate Hitler’s beach obstacles.
He would go from disarming bombs to now planting them. Along with a few other Naval officers, the “U.S. Navy Combat Demolition” unit was born.
Kauffman and his officers began training “frogmen” out of the swampy and mosquito infested area in Fort Pierce, Florida — the first BUD/s class started training. Kauffman and the instructors taught the Navy’s bravest men how to sneak up onto an obstacle undetected and take it out.
In 1962, the Navy SEALs were officially declared when former President John F. Kennedy had them established to conduct Unconventional Warfare — and they’ve been kicking a** ever since.