| Jr. Feature |

Up Close with SEALs

Come with me as we enter the secret world of Naval Special Warfare and pay tribute to a very elite group of America’s heroes

The National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum, also called “The Navy SEAL Museum,” has a tagline: “If you got any closer, you would have to enlist.” Only after visiting the museum in Fort Pierce, Florida, did I understand its meaning. This is about as close as you can get to the Navy SEALs.

Come with me as we enter the secret world of Naval Special Warfare and pay tribute to a very elite group of America’s heroes.

The Navy UDT-SEAL Museum pays tribute to the U.S. Navy SEALs – the Navy’s special forces that have the ability to operate at sea, in the air, and on land. SEAL is an acronym for Sea, Air and Land. The SEAL teams were formed in WWII and have continued to protect our country - and the world – by carrying out special secret missions ever since. It was a SEAL team that carried out the raid at Abbottabad, Pakistan in 2011, killing Osama bin Laden, the terrorist responsible for the attack on the Twin Towers.

The UDT-NASA Space Flight Program Connection

From the very first time that NASA sent astronauts into space, they used “water landings” to bring them home. That means the spacecraft carrying the astronauts would splash down in the ocean. At first, Navy Frogmen taught the astronauts how to get out of the spacecraft safely once they were floating in the water. But when one astronaut almost drowned, NASA changed their policy. Every time a spacecraft returned, the Frogmen would travel out to sea and attach a special floatation collar to the space capsule, so it wouldn’t sink. They also attached life rafts. Then they would open the hatch so the astronauts could emerge.

Every year, 18,000 people apply to NASA to become astronauts. Only 11 are chosen. Only 3 people have ever succeeded in becoming both SEALs and astronauts. Bill Shepherd became the first SEAL in space in 2000.

SEAL Delivery Vehicles or SDVs, are mini-subs that are free-flooding. That means that the SEALs are surrounded by sea water during the entire mission and they must wear compressed air tanks. SDVs are used to secretly enter enemy shores and can transport up to six combat-equipped SEALs and underwater weapons.

Various SEAL vehicles are displayed at the museum. HUMVEEs replace the Jeeps used since WWII, and are designed to protect passengers from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). They are considered among the most capable all-terrain vehicles in the world, and are used as troop carriers, command vehicles, ambulances, for psychological operations and as a weapons platform. They are equipped with a machine gun, missiles, and grenade launchers.

Thank you, Navy Frogmen and Navy SEALs for your selfless, devoted service to our country!

(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 811)

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