Last remaining member of first-ever Navy SEAL team celebrates 94th birthday
BY CAITLIN O'KANE
APRIL 24, 2019
From the beginning, Dawson was a bit rebellious. When he missed the deadline to apply for the unit, he snuck through a window to add his application was in the pile. He was eventually chosen to be a part of the team of 10, specializing in explosives.
Bill Dawson, the last living member of the first-ever U.S. Navy SEAL team, celebrated his 94th birthday earlier this month, and CBS News visited him to hear stories that only he can tell.
Dawson was just 17 when he enlisted. To get on the elite team, he snuck through a window to hand in his application past the deadline.Dawson is now in a wheelchair and he uses oxygen, but he was once part of an elite special operations team. The veteran from Washington, D.C. was just 17 years old when he enlisted in the Navy and he and his teammates were deployed on top-secret and often life-threatening missions.
Before they were known as Navy SEALs, they were Frogmen. "There was no such thing as SEALs, so Frogmen seemed like an appropriate name," Dawson told CBS News.
Dawson served in the Pacific arena from 1943 to 1945, when the Japanese surrendered. As the last living Frogman, he doesn't have anyone to relate to. But he does have "the book" — a three-ring binder that is so stuffed with information, it's about six inches thick.
Dawson admits it wasn't always easy to stay brave. "Of course I was scared," he said. "Anybody tells you they wasn't scared, I'll call them a liar." He said it isn't about not being scared — it's about what you do when you are scared.
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