The first volunteers for what was to become Underwater Demolition Team THIRTEEN originated from the Sea Bee Unit at Camp Peary, Virginia, where they had already received basic training in demolition work. The remainder of the complement were received from various types of duty.

Assembling at Fort Pierce, Florida in early July 1944, the outfit was organized into units composed of one officer and five men. Upon conclusion of the rugged training program the small units were amalgamated to form Team THIRTEEN of which Lieutenant Commander J. MORANZ was the Commanding Officer and Lieutenant (jg) D.M. WALKER was the Executive Officer.

On 3 October in compliance with orders, the team proceeded to Camp Shoemaker, California where it arrived on the 10th. Embarking on the U.S.S. GENERAL PATRICK (AP-151) for Maui, T.H., the team arrived at Pearl Harbor, Oahu, T.H. on 19 October. Two days later, transported on an LCI, it was landed at the Demolition Base, Maui, T.H.

Here, an intensive training program, which stressed reconnaissance, was undertaken. Then, on January 1945 orders were received to embark upon the U.S.S. BARR (APD-47) for the island of Ulithi. From there, the ship went to Saipan which was the staging area for the operation against Iwo Jima.

Reaching its destination on 14 February, the BARR was ordered to the eastern side of the island where Team THIRTEEN was to erect a navigational light on Higashi lwa, an islet about 4000 yards offshore. In spite of heavy enemy fire, which the BARR soon succeeded in silencing the three officers and fifteen men assigned to the task were successful in carrying out their mission without a casualty.

D minus 2, 17 February, found the team conducting reconnaissance of Green Beach #1 on the east side of Iwo, and of Purple Beach #1 on the west side of the island. Both were about five hundred yards in length and under the northern shadow of Mount Suribachi. The information accumulated disclosed there were no mines nor obstacles, either man made or natural, present thus rendering any demolition work unnecessary. It may be added here that enemy fire throughout was intense; so intense that if it had not been for the gallant and continuous fire support of the Destroyers and LCI(G)'s assigned, Team THIRTEEN would probably not have been able to survive. Although many of the LCI(G)'s suffered badly, the swimmers and LCPR's escaped without casualty. On Green Beach #1, Captain HANLON, aboard the Underwater Demolition Teams' flagship U.S.S. GILMER (APD-11), ordered the firing of white phosphorous shells in order to give the returning swimmers a protective smoke screen.

The next day, the navigational light had to be reestablished on Higashi lwa by members of the team. This was accomplished successfully.

From D-Day until D plus 9 Day, one or more of the platoons aided the Beachmasters in directing landing waves and particularly in salvage work on the eastern beaches of the island. Meanwhile on D plus 5 Day, a few members assisted the Hydrographic Department in placing a navigational light on the slope of Mount Suribachi. Throughout the entire operation, despite grave risks and concentrated enemy fire, the team received no casualties.

Receiving orders to proceed to Guam, the BARR left Iwo Jima on 28 February, arriving at their destination on 7 March. Here the team replenished its equipment and enjoyed a well earned liberty. 11 March saw the BARR heading for Ulithi once again. During their week on this island, the members of the team engaged in more training; repaired damaged equipment and enjoyed liberty.

In the company of a huge fire support task force, the BARR left Ulithi on 20 March to transport Team THIRTEEN to Okinawa Gunto for that operation. The plan was for the team to reconnoiter Kerama Rhetto, a group of small islands lying fifteen miles to the West of the main island of Okinawa, so the Army wished to secure these before the main invasion for use as refueling and repair bases.

Consequently, on the morning of 25 March Team THIRTEEN conducted a reconnaissance of Orange Zebra Beach, on the southern tip of Tokashika Shimma, following this with a similar operation off Purple Zebra Beach on the western side of the same island in the afternoon. Using axle grease for protection against the 70 degree Fahrenheit temperature of the water, the swimmers encountered only sporadic rifle fire, sustaining no casualties. No demolition work was considered necessary; natural channels being properly buoyed and charts prepared. Team THIRTEEN's next task, the blasting of a channel on Keise Shima so that LSM's could land heavy artillery for pre-invasion bombardment, was completed after three days work on 30 March. Fortunately, once again no casualties were suffered.

On 3 April, transferred from the BARR to the U.S.S. WAYNE (APA), Team THIRTEEN was happy to be on its way back to Maui via Guam and Pearl Harbor as the Kamikaze attacks were becoming increasingly severe off Okinawa. At Maui, the team helped in training the newly formed Team TWENTY-NINE, until on 2 August, it was ordered to Oceanside, California.

The advent of the atomic bomb, causing the Japanese surrender proposals, also terminated any program for cold water training. Instead, in conjunction with the majority of the teams there, Team THIRTEEN prepared to go to sea. Before departing however, it was reorganized. Both Lieutenant Commander MORANZ and Lieutenant WALKER left as a consequence of which Lieutenant Commander F.D. FANE entered as Commanding Officer and Lieutenant (jg) R.E. GLEASON became Executive Officer. There were also changes among the other officers and men. As a unit of Demolition Squadron ONE, the team embarked upon the U.S.S. BURDO (APD-133), sailing for Pearl Harbor, Oahu, T.H. on 16 August.

There the team remained ten days taking on supplies. On 1 September, the BURDO departed for Saipan which she reached twelve days later. The next stop was Sasebo, Kyushu, Japan which she reached on 21 September. After reporting to the 5th Amphibious Force, the team conducted a reconnaissance of the harbor's dock areas. Further scouting and reconnoitering were continued for three days with liberty ashore on the last.

On 26 September the BURDO left Sasebo with final destination as San Diego, California. Intermediate stops were made at Guam and Pearl Harbor, after which she reached San Diego on 19 October. From that time forward, Team THIRTEEN was stationed at the Amphibious Training Base, Coronado, California while it went through the throes of decommissioning, a process which was completed on 3 November 1945.

(compiled by Robert Allan King for the UDT-SEAL Museum from public records at the Operational Archives of the Naval Historical Center)

TEAM ROSTERS - To protect the integrity of the Teams and the privacy of individual frogmen, Team rosters are not made public. If you or your relative was a member of UDT Team Thirteen and you would like further information, we suggest you contact the UDT-SEAL Museum.

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