Lieutenant Frederick H. Kaiser, USN UDT Training Class 33

UDT-12 SEAL Team One

Navy Frogmen, SEALs, Commandos, Unconventional Warfare Specialists - That and More!

The story is not about the bravado that is depicted in so many trendy movies, it is not about the explosions that send huge fireballs into the sky, or the firing of endless rounds of ammunition from automatic weapons by our celluloid heroes. The real story is about individuals, their self respect, their confidence and their pride in knowing they are the best. Once a man has gone through the UDT/SEAL training, and overcome, his fears, and gone the limit; he no longer has to prove himself to anyone else, for he has proven himself to his team mates, and above all he has proven himself, to himself.

The popularity of movies and TV shows based loosely upon the exploits of the U.S. Navy SEALS has prompted those that knew of my background to ask, what was it really like?

I had the privilege of serving with both Underwater Demolition Team 12, (UDT-12), and SEAL Team One, both home based in Coronado, California, and served with both organizations in Vietnam in 1966 and 1967. I volunteered for UDT training in early 1964, passed my acceptance tests, and began the rigorous training in August of that year. The training program for an officer lasts 21 weeks and covered physical conditioning, swimming, diving with various types of underwater breathing apparatus, reconnaissance operations, the use of explosives, and a myriad of other topics that were key to enabling you to accomplish future missions, while protecting your life along with that of your comrades. Follow-on training included 3 weeks of parachute jump training at Fort Benning, Georgia, Survival school at Camp Pendelton in California, and an assortment of other programs to meet the needs of the teams. During UDT/SEAL training, the officers and enlisted personnel were treated as equals, no favoritism, no special privileges. If anything, the officers took the brunt of the abuse, for if they were to lead their men in the future, their men had to know they would lead by example, that the officer would and could do any task he assigned his men.

I will never forget that evening many years ago, when my comrades and I nervously awaited 2400 (12:00 Midnight), the designated hour for the beginning of "Hell Week". That term is too easily used by fraternities and clubs, there is only one true Hell Week, and that is in the training program for the Navy UDT/SEAL Teams. It was September 1964 and class 33 awaited the supreme ordeal that would take place at the Amphibious base in Coronado, California. "Motivation Week", the Navy's offical designation, was the fourth week of training, and was designed to test every individuals desire to continue the remaining arduous weeks of the 21 week program. It did more than that, it tested each of us in those areas where we were uncertain. It built confidence in ourselves, in our minds and in our bodies. Would we gain the respect of those who had passed before, and more importantly would we gain our own self respect?

The following accurate description of "Hell Week" was written by Fred Kaiser 24 hours after completing the military's toughest challenge!