A Paddle in Time
This is my dad's story. He is an eighty-eight-year-old veteran of World War II. Specifically he was a navy frogman on UDT 11(underwater demolition team 11 -- the original Navy Seals). Their job was to swim into the beachs of Japan and plant explosives to blow up the cement posts that the Japanese had put there as obstacles to prevent the Marines from landing. My dad was an officer and led a team of enlisted men. During a training mission he and his team as well as other officers and their teams were on small rubber boats with some type of exposive cord that was tied into the cement posts. The main ship was to give flashing light signals at 1:00 a.m. and then a different color flashing light a few minutes later; that signaled that the explosive cord was to be ignited and the teams should throw the cord into the water. The flashing light signal did not occur at 1:00 a.m. My father sat there for a minute or two; something was not right. They had no radio contact; what to do? He made a snap judgment to put the explosive cord on a paddle and float it away from the rubber boat. It exploded a minute or two later. He saved his enlisted men from death or severe injury. The other officers on the other rubber boats did not make the same snap judgment and the cord exploded while still on the boat; many men were severely maimed and injured, some losing limbs. The commanding officer on the main ship had changed the signals without telling the frogmen. My dad's team of enlisted men were forever grateful for his snap judgment.