The last living man on the original “frogman” team, which evolved into modern-day Navy SEALs, celebrated his 94th birthday Thursday among family and friends.
Bill Dawson, 94, was a member of the first Naval Combat Demolition Units team created in 1943. Team members were commonly known as “frogmen.” Dawson’s unit evolved into what are today’s Navy SEALs, an elite special operations force that acts as part of the U.S. Navy’s Special Warfare Command.
SEALs endure “brutal” training and prepare for nearly three years before they can be deployed on missions, according to the Navy.
“Knowing today what I helped start developed into what it is today. It’s one of the greatest outfits in the world,” Dawson said during his birthday celebration Thursday, NBC Washington reported.
His granddaughter and great granddaughter were present, according to NBC.
“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, NBC reported.
Dawson wrote and published in 2015, “Before They Were SEALs They Were Frogs,” about his time on the special operations team.
Dawson joined the D.C. Fire Department when he returned from the war. He worked at the department for more than 20 years.
“He’s part of that brotherhood in the fire department for one,” former fire department colleague Greg Turnell said.
“He’s done a lot for our country and our community,” Turnell added. He helps the now elderly Dawson get around town, according to NBC.
“The fact that he’s collected a pension for 45 years — that’s even more inspiring,” Turnell also joked at the birthday celebration.
Other fire department colleagues came to celebrate Dawson’s birthday and service to the country.
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