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  Mercury - Gemini - Apollo
  Mercury 1959 underwater demolition training

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Author Topic:   Mercury 1959 underwater demolition training
KC Stoever
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Posts: 1009
From: Denver, CO USA
Registered: Oct 2002

posted 09-24-2008 04:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In doing a little photo research this afternoon I came across a cute "Honorary Frogman" certificate issued to "Malcon [sic] S. Carpenter" by the Underwater Demolition Unit Two. This is the UDT unit then stationed at Hampton Roads.

The date entered in calligraphic hand is 2 July 1959 — just about about 10 weeks after the seven guys arrived at Langley AFB.

I was surprised by the mid-1959 date, but on reflection it is perfectly in keeping with all the accounts of the speed with which the Project Mercury astronauts moved--on training and everything else. Here is the language:

_____ has been satisfactorily inspected by whales, barracuda, sharks, sting rays, porpoises, sea urchins, and other denizens of the deep. He has descended into the fish world and returned unscathed, thus qualifying him as an Honorary U.S. Navy frogman in good standing. In wittness [sic] thereof I affix my seal this day...
The commanding officer is signed D. Gaither.

Lou Chinal
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Posts: 946
From: Staten Island, NY
Registered: Jun 2007

posted 09-24-2008 08:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It would be interesting to make a time line of all training activities. From April '59 to May '63. Survival training in Nevada,(July '60) the famous suit-up photo, (March '60) all capcom assignments, just to name a few.

KC Stoever
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Posts: 1009
From: Denver, CO USA
Registered: Oct 2002

posted 09-24-2008 09:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A training timeline would be great. I was astounded by the timing of the UDT training.

John Charles
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Posts: 316
From: Houston, Texas, USA
Registered: Jun 2004

posted 09-24-2008 09:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for John Charles     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by KC Stoever:
I was surprised by the mid-1959 date
KC, cool discovery!

But the date may even be earlier than the citation suggests. An article in Time magazine dated Monday, Jun. 01, 1959 indicates that some sort of scuba training was concluded before June 1.

KC Stoever
Member

Posts: 1009
From: Denver, CO USA
Registered: Oct 2002

posted 09-24-2008 10:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks, John. Your date makes the Project Mercury timeline for UDT training even more impressive. I continue to be astonished by history.

Obviousman
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Posts: 427
From: NSW, Australia
Registered: May 2005

posted 09-25-2008 05:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Obviousman   Click Here to Email Obviousman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wasn't there footage of that on Spacecraft Film's most excellent Mercury DVDs?

ejectr
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Posts: 1488
From: Brimfield, MA
Registered: Mar 2002

posted 09-25-2008 12:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by KC Stoever:
A training timeline would be great. I was astounded by the timing of the UDT training.

UDT people know what's most important.

KC Stoever
Member

Posts: 1009
From: Denver, CO USA
Registered: Oct 2002

posted 10-03-2008 05:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's interesting to reflect that the original UDT training (originally Carpenter's idea for Project Mercury) morphed into his full-fledged underwater work later that decade with Sealabs 1, 2, and 3.

KC Stoever
Member

Posts: 1009
From: Denver, CO USA
Registered: Oct 2002

posted 10-07-2008 11:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From the spring of 1959 on the Virginia Eastern Shore. I can't identify the USN UDT divers in this classic men-standing-together photograph, but the Mercury astronauts are (l-r, front row) Wally Schirra, second from left, Gordo Cooper, Al Shepard (hands held Prince of Wales fashion), John Glenn, Scott Carpenter; see (l-r) Gus Grissom in the second row between Shepard and Glenn, Dr. Bill Douglas, and Deke Slayton, holding a face mask.


Photograph credit: U.S. Navy, Rene Carpenter, private collection

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 03-24-2012 06:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by KC Stoever:
I can't identify the USN UDT divers...
Reviving this 2008 discussion, as I have heard from a member of the UDT team with the identities of two of the men in the above photo.

LTJG Norm Ott (facing picture on far left with knife) and center in the back row, LTJG Fred Cook. Both men have since passed away.

divemaster
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Posts: 1341
From: ridgefield, ct
Registered: May 2002

posted 03-26-2012 11:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for divemaster   Click Here to Email divemaster     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Scott Carpenter had a nice six pack going there! We could get him a job on Jersey Shore. We'd have to call it Colorado Mountains, though.

All times are CT (US)

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