Alta Live: The Santa Monica Lifeguards Who Became World War II Heroes

Get to know the ragtag gang of brave, sometimes wild, ocean habitués who helped create a new way of surveilling and sabotaging America’s World War II enemies.

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For Alta’s Weekend Read, Andrew Dubbins wrote about the group of scrappy swimmers and surfers who joined Underwater Demolition Teams on World War II’s Pacific front. Dubbins grew up junior lifeguarding on Santa Monica Beach, where crews of lifeguards turned war heroes were once recruited. “L.A. isn’t always thought of as a beach town, but there are people who just love diving for lobsters,” Dubbins told Alta Live. “You can call them beach rats, watermen, surfers.”

Dubbins’s upcoming book, Into Enemy Waters: A World War II Story of the Demolition Divers Who Became the Navy SEALs, details the role of these so-called frogmen in U.S. history—many of the tactics used by Navy SEALs today originated with the frogmen, who would swim up to enemy beaches armed with only a knife. “I love the stories of the guys on the periphery of history,” Dubbins said. “They weren’t celebrated, it wasn’t glamorous, and it was integral to the war effort.”

Check out these links to some of the topics Dubbins and Haber brought up this week.

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