John P. Cooper

UDT 3 & UDT 1 photo album

John P. Cooper

John P. Cooper

John P. Cooper, UDT 3, 1952

John P. Cooper, reunion, 1999


Chinese UDT patch

Chinese shoulder patch

Dragon patch

UDT 3 patch

UDT Cloned Itself Forty-Five Years Ago

by Ralph W. Kausch, LT, USNR (ret.) in collaboration with

Martin C. H. Huang, CAPT. ROC Navy (ret.)

In March of 1954, UDT 12, stationed in Japan on a WestPac tour, received orders to send a detachment of two officers and three enlisted men for temporary duty with the Military Advisory Assistance Group in Tsoying, Taiwan. The detachment's orders were to train and organize a Chinese Nationalist Underwater Demolition Team! There was hope at that time, especially by the Nationalist Chinese in Taiwan, that the people on mainland China would rise up against the Communist government and support an amphibious landing by the Nationalist Chinese. For over a year the Nationalists had been sending officers to the U. S. for instruction in amphibious warfare.The five frogmen assigned this task were LTJG Ralph W. Kausch (as OinC), ENS. Robert Falstad, Chief Gunners Mate Arthur Stanfield, Mineman First Class John Cooper, and Quartermaster Second Class Quenton D. Dennison.

When they reached Tsoying they were joined by LTJG Martin C. H. Huang, a Nationalist Chinese officer who was to act as liaison and translator for the American instructors. Mr. Huang's personal experience was somewhat unique. He had volunteered to go to the U. S. with a group of Chinese officers to attend courses in amphibious warfare. When they reached Coronado they learned that UDT was an important element of amphibious warfare, and the Americans wanted to know why no one had orders for this training. In order to relieve Admiral Liang, the senior Chinese officer, of personal embarrassment for this oversight, Mr. Huang volunteered for this training, although he did not even know what the letters UDT stood for. Once he found out he realized he could not quit without great loss of face, an important aspect of Chinese culture. In addition he realized that, even though the Nationalist Chinese Navy would never have aircraft carriers or battleships, there was no reason why they couldn't create an Underwater Demolition Team with the same high standards as an American UDT. His attitude and understanding of U. S. UDT training techniques was to prove invaluable.In Taiwan a group of 128 trainees had been carefully selected from a larger group of volunteers, based on their physical ability, swimming ability and perceived motivation. The trainees lived in crude huts with thatched roofs which often leaked when it rained (an unintentional built-in harassment). However, their food ration was increased in recognition of their intense training. A sixteen week training schedule was drafted, mirroring U. S. UDT basic training. The early weeks were devoted to calisthenics, running and other forms of physical conditioning, rubber boat training, night problems, and swimming instruction, leading up to a punishing five and a half day Hell Week.

However, if the five Americans thought they were in Taiwan to teach, they soon found out they had a few things to learn as well. On the first Monday of training there were no trainees - all Chinese military personnel underwent political indoctrination on Monday mornings (an exception was made for Hell Week). So much for UDT training on Monday mornings. All instructions, commands, etc. had to be translated. A few of the smarter instructors learned to count to five and say a few other words in Chinese. Personal harassment, especially from respected American instructors, was alien to the culture and not well understood. Alternate methods were needed to determine motivation. Also, no trainee could bring himself to quit an evolution (or the program) in front of an American instructor. Those who terminated voluntarily did so quietly through Mr. Huang.

By the end of Hell Week the number of trainees had been reduced by over 50%. However, morale was high for those who remained and a closeness was developing; they were beginning to jell. Training then shifted to open water swimming, hydrographic reconnaissance, cartography, cast and recovery, more rubber boat training, more night problems, setting up a beach perimeter, stealth tactics, and demolition training. The trainees also got a little experience in simulated limpet attacks against American ships at anchor in Kaoshiung.

The trainees (and the instructors) moved aboard a Chinese LST for the last three weeks of training. The ship anchored offshore from an isolated beach in the far South of Taiwan which had been made available for UDT training. Combat recons, night problems, and demolition operations were all conducted from the ship.

Upon the completion of training a UDT billet was added to the Military Advisory Assistance Group. Gunners Mate Chief Stanfield was selected to fill this billet and he remained in Tsoying until 1957 as the UDT advisor of the Naval Section. M.A.A.G. Mineman First Class Cooper also later filled this billet, from 1961 to 1964. He was promoted to Chief Mineman in Taiwan before his retirement.LTJG Kausch returned to Japan at the completion of training, just prior to the official graduation ceremonies and organization of the team. He left the following message with LTJG Huang on behalf of the American instructors, to be delivered to the new Chinese Underwater Demolition Team on the day of its commencement exercises:

"At long last you have happily reached a point in your training where you are no longer unskilled trainees, and you now are justified in proudly organizing yourselves into an operating Underwater Demolition Team. Let us remember that, even though you are an organized UDT, your training should not cease or even slacken, but should continue in the same eager and intelligent manner until the day you prepare for your first combat operation. It is only through this intense training program that you can hope to be successful in a coordinated UDT combat situation.

Your Chinese Underwater Demolition Team will be a proud organization, for as you continue in your technical training you will grow into an elite corps. Through development of close teamwork and a high degree of training efficiency, you will have every reason to take pride in your unique organization. Your eagerness to learn, your determination to finish this difficult training program, and your well disciplined training group has made it a great pleasure for us to be your UDT instructors."

The Nationalist Chinese Underwater Demolition Team was officially established in early September of 1954. The initial Team comprised the 61 officers and enlisted men who completed the training program, and was augmented by an additional 27 officers and enlisted men who had completed a shorter training program given earlier by a U. S. Troop Training Team. The senior trainee, Commander Wu, was the Team's first commanding officer. LTJG Huang assumed other duties as a career naval officer, but he returned later to take command of the Team from 1962 to 1965.

The Team began operating immediately on the islands of Quemoy and Matsu, which at that time were under daily bombardment and the threat of invasion. They went on to participate in many other operations, most of which are still classified. Sadly, there were some good frogmen from this first training group who were lost on these missions.

The old leaky thatched roof huts are long since gone now, replaced by a handsome three story building which serves as both barracks and operations center. Just as our SEALs are known in this country, so are the Nationalist Chinese UDT recognized in Taiwan, an elite and proud organization in a Navy without aircraft carriers or battleships.

Shouse, Cooper, Bishop

Hazelwood, Bishop

Bob Shouse, J. P. Cooper, Jim Bishop

Jim Hazelwood, Jim Bishop


Donovan, Dyal, ?

Taylor, McCarthy, Cooper

Donovan (Bill or Jim?), Mel Dyal, ?

Taylor, J. McCarthy, J. P. Cooper

4th Platoon, UDT 3

Late 1953 - Camp McGillJapan - UDT 3, 4th Platoon


Ord. Disposal School pic


Class 1-53 (UDT) Sec. 3, 3 October 1952

Standing, l-to-r, Graham, Francis M., SN, USN; Campbell, George A., BM3, USN, Cooper, John P., BM3, USN: Van Valin, Robert D., LT, USNR; Weller, Robert M., LT, USNR, Henson, DeLaven L., QMSN, USN; Campton, Ronald M., SN, USN; Clancy, John E., BMG3, USN; Massey, Robert D., ME1, USN;

Seated, l-to-r, CAPT. A. G. Kregas, USAF; LT. G. P. Hoenninger, USN; LCDR F. M. Romanick, USN; CAPT M. W. Schreiber, USMC

Go to J.P. Cooper’s UDT 1 photos – page 1

Go to J.P. Cooper's UDT 1 photos - page 2

Go to J.P. Cooper's UDT 3 photos - page 1

Go to J.P. Cooper's UDT 3 photos - page 2


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