[Untitled]

Description

In this interview, Arthur Kaplan describes his experiences in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He recalls how he was recruited for the Navy's Underwater Demolition Team and talks about his training. He describes what a close-knit group they were, as well as how informal their organization was. He recites close-call experiences and details equipment and procedures. Because his unit cleared beaches ahead of invasion forces, he describes placing a sign that read "Welcome Marines courtesy of UDT7" on an island they had cleared. He recalls how his Boy Scout first aid training helped him in the Navy. He discusses Japanese submarine nests and the sight of the battle flotilla at Okinawa. He recalls his post-war education and career path. He tells of being featured on the television show "This is Your Life."
Arthur Kaplan was in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific during World War II.
JUDGE ARTHUR KAPLAN VETERANS HISTORY CENTER Atlanta History Center March 17, 2004 Interviewer: Newell Tozzer Transcriber: Stephanie McKinnell Newell Tozzer: Today is the 17th of March, 2004, and we’re at the Atlanta History Center on the Veteran’s Oral History project for World War II veterans. We have a distinguished veteran to interview today, Judge Arthur Kaplan, and my name is Newell Tozzer, we will be talking to Judge Kaplan about his remarkable experiences in World War II. Judge Kaplan, you were born right here in Georgia, Covington, Georgia, January 5, 1925. And where did you go into the navy, where did you enlist? Arthur Kaplan: In the navy here in Atlanta, in 1943. NT: Well, I know that you have had an exciting career in the demolition corps as a frogman; can you tell us how you got into that? AK: Well, I got into that during the war. I was on an island in the Pacific in the Guadalcanal area. And we were swimming one day and a bunch of the guys that was in the war with me, I don’t know who they were, at the time. And one of them said, where did you learn to swim. I said, well, I did some swimming in Atlanta, joined the navy. Said would you like to come with us? I said, well, I didn’t know who you were. So he _ and the next thing I knew I was being transferred to a naval combat demolition unit, that is what they were called at the time. It was a very close organization, you were not permitted to talk about it, and you were given specific instructions. Even if I could _ I didn’t know what they were doing. But I knew we were getting off that island. They took me to a training facility and we spent several weeks training in the Hawaiian Islands. Then we were transferred to a team called UDT8, and we were going to the invasion of the Peleliu islands, and we were sunk at Peleliu and picked up by American ships. And as soon as they were able to transport us back to Pearl Harbor, _ clothing, and temporary ID’s. They reassigned me to a team called UDT7. And I stayed with team 7 the remainder of the war. We were a very close-knit bunch of people, officers and all. I mean there was virtually no discipline, we were all good friends and we took care of each other. We swam into the beaches to clear the beaches out days before the invasions, and the officers were right with us. And we learned to respect each other, I respected the officers, they respected us. And I think that’s what . . . we never knew an officer to have any problems with any man or any man with any officer. And I guess I ought to tell you this. I was walking down the street in Pearl Harbor, in Honolulu, and I put on somebody else’s uniform because I didn’t have one. Then they gave us a little piece of paper.... NT: Was this when you had been sunk? AK: Yes ma’am, right after we were, it was about two weeks after we were sunk. Come in here OK. And I was walking down the street talking to my mother and daddy on my phone from the USO. After talking to them, I was extremely upset because I was homesick and I wanted to see my parents. And I was crying, no need for me to tell you otherwise. NT: Well, you were just a young boy, what, 17 or 18, just a young boy. AK: And I walked past this ensign and I didn’t salute him, and the shore patrol stopped me because I didn’t salute. They set that up as a disciplinary thing for people. NT: It was sort of a test, disciplinary test? AK: Yes ma’am. In other words, they wanted to make sure that everybody was following procedures and stuff like that, I didn’t salute the man. And they stopped me. Well, they wanted to see my ID, and I showed them that little piece of paper that a commander wrote down, and wanted to know where we came from. I just could not tell them, we were told absolutely not to divulge any information about who we were or anything. And ahead of us in uniform, make a long story short ma’am; they locked me up, put me in the brig. And in the brig, there’s a great big fat chief petty officer. He was real world-wise, the man was very sharp, he asked me same questions, where I was, so forth. I told him the same answers, I could not give him any information at all. And he looked at me, he said I think I understand your situation, son; you go on back to your place. And I told my commander, who was at this particular hotel in Honolulu, and I went back there. NT: He let you go. AK: Yes, ma’am, he let me go. I did not understand him to say you go on back to your base because I did not know where my base was to be honest with you. The base was at Honolulu but I had never been there, Honolulu was just a stopping point for us to rest and relaxation you might say. There was some recreation let me tell you. But in the event, when we got to the base about two weeks later, all the officers and everything were all together and I got to my tent where I was staying at, I had no idea where the tent was. I mean I’d never been on that island in my life. And two shore patrolmen, well, three actually, came up and wanted to see me. They had shotguns and I looked at them, “what’s the matter.” “Why didn’t you come to your base when you were told to?” Said I wasn’t told to come to my base. Said this chief petty officer filled out a report, he showed it to me. I said, no sir, he just told me I could go where my officers were, and that’s where I went. Well, they walked me down to the commander, and this is real interesting. And if I’m boring you with this, please tell me. NT: Not a bit. AK: Well, OK. Well, we got down there to where the commander was. He looked at me, and it doesn’t take a smart man to figure out I’m a southerner with a southern drawl. He looked at me and we talked, and I told him what happened. He said, where are you from? I says Atlanta, Georgia. He says Atlanta, Georgia? I says yes sir. He said, how long you lived there? I said all my life. And Atlanta, at that time had a very small Jewish population. And he says, do you know Sam Fisher. I said, I know Sam Fisher, he’s my brother. He said, wait a minute, your name is Kaplan. I said, yes sir, he’s a half brother. He’s my mother’s son, her husband died, and my father’s wife died, and my mother’s real sister actually had seven half brothers, and Sam was one of them. He said, well, do you know where he worked. He was questioning me to see if I was lying to him. I said sir, all I can tell you about where he worked was a shoe store. He says where was that store. I said, on Whitehall street. He says how do you get to the store. I said, sir, you had go down some steps into a basement, and that’s where the store was. He said, son, you sit down. He said, it was my daddy’s store, and he said, your brother worked for my father. He said, we’ll check this story out. And three months later, he let me go, three months later that chief petty officer that was at the brig, and he confirmed what I had told him, and they cleared my record of it entirely. I certainly wouldn’t lie to them. And from there we went back, took some additional training on this base. NT: Your whole group? AK: The whole team, yes ma’am. NT: And how many people? AK: There is a picture of them right here ma’am. I think there might have _. NT: Oh, good. That must be about fifty people on your team, your group. Let’s see, if you will hold that up right here. AK: We have a copy of it, I’ll leave it out where you can make a copy. And we went back overseas, back into the combat area. And the first invasion in team 7 we went in Okinawa. And we were later accomplished our duties then, I can tell you now, but before the invasion, three or four days before troops ever got there, we would come in on a small ship. NT: Your team? AK: Yes ma’am. And a small ship, well, I don’t have a picture of it, it was called an APD, a World War II vessel, and I’m sorry, I thought I had a picture of it, but obviously I don’t. We would swim in to the beach… NT: So that’s why your swimming ability…? AK: Oh yes ma’am because you had to put in a long distance. And see what’s underneath the water and what they called reconnoiter the beach. You see how deep the water was in certain areas and whether it was safe for a boat, the landing craft to go in there, and also the Japanese put these steel railroad ties into cement and it would sink a landing craft boat. They had a terrible experience at the island of Tarawa, we were not at Tarawa. The marines when they invaded Tarawa, they could not get in because of these obstacles on the beach. NT: I remember how bloody Gibraltar was. AK: It was bloody, it was the bloodiest invasion the marines I think ever had. I think they had four thousand marines killed in that invasion. It was a horrible thing. It was a horrible thing. That’s when the powers to be in the navy, somebody knew about what the naval combat demolition units were doing, and they came after the Seabees, and they were the construction battalions. They were older people and but they put us all together, and the Seabees were experts in the explosives. And we all started working together; they taught us how to do the explosives and how to go into the beach and blow those obstacles up so the landing craft could get in there. And that was a formation actually of the navy underwater demolition teams, nobody knew what they were. Nobody had heard of us before. Many of the officers in the navy had no idea what we were. And, at Okinawa we got hit by shore batteries, they were concealed on an island called Sukishima, which is right across the bay from Okinawa. And during that period of time, Ernie Pyle… NT: The famous war correspondent? AK: The famous war correspondent, yes ma’am, was on this island, _ to Sukishima, and so one of my boys, a seaman, had a picture here of him, took him to see Sukishima. Let’s see if I can find that for you. I thought I gave her a copy of that, showed it to Frances, she made a, right here. NT: And this was one of your group? AK: Name was Clifford Cronkie, and he took Ernie Pyle to this island. Unfortunately Ernie Pyle never left the island alive, he was killed, it was on that island by Japanese; they shot him. And Cliff, we were discharged, I never saw him again after that, but he was a great guy, just a tremendous person, very funny. He had tattoos all over him; he was a character. We were all characters, don’t misunderstand me, back then… NT: Even as young as you were? AK: Oh yeah, oh yeah. I don’t think, when you’re so young like that, you’re not really afraid of doing things. I mean really afraid. And unfortunately for him, he got married and had a wife and a child. But after the war was over, some years later, they were in a car wreck with him. And the car was underneath the water, and his wife and child drowned. He went in and tried to save them, but unfortunately he could not get into that car. And his wife and child died. NT: How tragic. AK: Yes ma’am, tragic it was. But he did everything he could to try to save their lives, but he just couldn’t do it, because you just couldn’t ask for any better swimmers than we were. NT: And here he was a fine swimmer and couldn’t get in the car. AK: Yes ma’am. NT: When did you get the name, the nickname frogmen? AK: I don’t know. I don’t know how that came up to be honest with you. We didn’t have a name. NT: You were just called the… AK: Underwater demolition, we went by the initials UDT. When you wrote home, I wrote a letter to my parents, you had to put down UDT-7 POB such and such, San Francisco, California. Nobody knew who we were, you couldn’t mention the word underwater demolition team or anything like that. At Okinawa, I showed you a picture earlier that I said was divine intervention. And it was. I used to write a newspaper for my team, on the ship, and we had ship’s crew. We didn’t deal with them, the ship, and they didn’t deal with us. All they did was transfer us someplace and we would go in and blow up the place like we were supposed to. Going some distance by rubber rafts and swimming the rest of the way. We finished our reconnaissance, finished blowing up certain obstacles on the beach, got back aboard ship after lunch. I had a bunk that I had, they assigned me. And they assigned me that bunk because I could work at night and not disturb anybody writing this little newspaper. I enjoyed doing that. NT: Now your father was a… AK: Great journalist, I mean I was no great journalist, but I used to get the news tape from the ship and type everything up. This doctor and I became friends, we’d sit down every night and talk as I prepared this thing for some yeoman to type up and print out the next day. I got to my bunk, I was going to lay down in it, and this fellow named, fellow stopped me and said hey, let me ask you a question. I said what. He said let me lie in your bunk a little while, my bunk is hot as hell. I said all right, go ahead. And he got in my bunk and laid down. He hadn’t been in that bunk five minutes, he hadn’t been in that bunk three minutes, and all of the sudden there’s a heck of a bang on the side of the ship. I said what the hell was that. And I looked up and all of the sudden he rolled out of his bunk, out of my bunk, and a Japanese shell from Ie Shema came through our ship. The first shell hit the bunk that he was in; that was my bunk. As I say that was divine intervention. And it blew him out of the bunk. And he was laying on the deck, and his whole back was just blown open. And they hit us eight more times just in that few seconds, few moments. But some people was badly injured. This young man was killed. NT: The one that was in your bunk? AK: In my bunk, he died right there at my feet, yes ma’am. And I drug him into the sick bay into the officer’s mess, into the cafeteria where they ate. They’d set up a hospital in there. And I started working with people that were injured, using first aid that I learned in the boy scouts. And to this very day, I can thank the boy scouts for what they taught me because you use the same thing then as we do now. And I later became an emergency medical technician instructor after the war was over. And that’s how I got it started with the emergency medical services here in Atlanta and state of Georgia, actually United States, and I still do it. NT: You still do that? AK: Still do it, yes ma’am. NT: You never retired from that? AK: No ma’am. I put new tires on my car a few months ago, I’m not about to retire. NT: I see this commendation here, one of your commendations, you have several, many, but one of them is for assistance in the evacuation of the wounded to battle dressing stations. That must be one of these times. [reading] “And thereafter assisted the medical officer in caring for the wounded to the extent of materially relieving suffering and increasing the chances of survival.” So this was a commendation for meritorious service during the attack on the USS Hopi. AK: That’s correct. NT: On 9 April 1945. AK: That is correct ma’am. NT: Well, it is a miracle that you are alive. AK: Well, the young man that was in my bunk took that shell for me. That’s what you call it, I would have been in that bunk ma’am. NT: It’s just a miracle. AK: And the ironic part about it, and I didn’t realize this until several years later when I got the commendation, I think it was written in 1949 if I’m not mistaken. The commendation, I’m not sure what date they had on the letter. NT: You’re right, 1949. AK: The incident occurred in 1945. NT: The other one, this one is written in 1945 right after the instance. AK: Well, my wife and I lived on Briarcliff Road. Somehow or other ma’am, I got confused at the time as to who, the name of the fellow that was in my bunk. Now you may not understand, these shells were dropping everywhere; we were in the middle of an invasion. The boy’s name was Leonard Bach. Well I grew up with Leonard Bach, I see in Atlanta very quite frequently, but I didn’t realize that Leonard Bach was the one that was in that bunk of mine. It was just a thing in a moment of panic that that happened, but Leonard Bach was a young man that had come to our team just once before this, not even months, just replacement. And truthfully I didn’t remember his name. Didn’t realize it until I got that, several months after I got that letter. NT: Another amazing coincidence. And here is another commendation. This is the Secretary of the Navy, awarded the underwater demolition team 7 the navy unit commendation for meritorious service in acting against all types of Japanese forces during the following operations: Marianas which was June 14 to July 23, ’44; the western Caroline islands operation September 13 and 14, ’44, 1944; and Okinawa operation March 29 to April 1, ’45. So that was to your team. AK: Yes ma’am. NT: Well, it was just an impressive career. When you were sworn to secrecy, sworn to not tell anybody anything, even when you got home. AK: When I got home, parents and people asked me what I did, and I couldn’t tell them. NT: What did you say? AK: I said we were just in the Pacific. And they knew that I got sunk, because a friend of mine, I bumped into him in the Ulithi islands right after we were sunk. We were brought there by the ship that picked us up. And I bumped into this friend of mine, I was walking down the street and I heard somebody call me by my nickname. He said, hey, Doc, and I looked around and atop a garbage pile was my friend Sam from Atlanta; we grew up together. NT: Where was this? AK: _ garbage pile, there was nothing but garbage. NT: I mean where were you? AK: Ulithi. Ulithi islands, yes ma’am. And he wrote home that we had been sunk; and it got through. I could not say anything, and our letters were heavily censored, my mail was heavily censored. But he told my parents that we had gotten sunk, so they knew that. And after Okinawa, they gave us some leave here in the States, went back overseas, and that’s when the war ended, when they dropped the bomb in 1945. NT: The atomic bomb. AK: Yes ma’am. We had to go back overseas and blow up submarine nests, midget submarines in Japan. And we went back to Japan, we blue up those things and we left there and came home for good. NT: And you were then just about 20 years old in ’45. AK: Yes’m about 20. NT: A mere lad through all this. AK: And I will say this, the United States Navy did so much for me. And it took a wild guy, and I was wild back in those days, I want to tell you. But it made a man out of me, and all these different people here that you’ve seen, this boy here, he came through Atlanta after the war and I had a bad tooth. He was giving me a filling, and the dentist couldn’t figure out which tooth it was. And while he was here in Atlanta, the Piedmont Hotel, there was a women that had got up on the top and was going to jump off, and this fellow right here went up there and talked her down. He later became a minister, he was Mormon, and he was one of the finest people that I have ever known in my life. He went up and talked her off, he jumped into the ocean, went into to swim, he’s setting there around his head and a mask we would wear so you could see underneath the water. Today the navy SEALS now they have all this fabulous equipment, I mean they have everything they could possibly need. All we had were a pair of swimming trunks, a knife, fins, and a mask. NT: That’s all you had? AK: Yes ma’am. NT: Very little protection. And what would you do when you were…? AK: We’d have to go out, swim about maybe a mile, mile and half, two miles to get to the beach because they didn’t want the boats to be hit by the Japanese. And we would jump out of the raft, this rubber raft, and jump into the water. We’d swim in a line, maybe fifteen, twenty guys swimming in towards the beach. And we’d have a little plate on our legs, it was a plastic plate, and a pencil on it, and you would mark down certain things that you saw when you got in there. Navy intelligence would take that and put it into a broad spectrum for the admiral and then to figure out how they wanted the troops to go into that island. Then we would swim back out after navy reconnaissance and go back in shortly after that and blow up the beaches. At that time there were no troops there. No American troops were there. On April 1st, the day of that invasion, the day before that, now we went to sleep that night, there were no ships there except the ship that we were on and maybe two or three other ships carrying demolition troop teams on it. You couldn’t see anything. When we got up the next morning and walked outside on the deck, ma’am, as far as the human eye could see, it was a battlefield like anything you’ve never seen before, just hundreds and hundreds of ships, battleships, cruisers, destroyers, all kinds of ships. It was just actually unbelievable how they all got in there and we didn’t even know they were behind us until that morning. American planes were flying overhead dropping bombs and strafing the island and so forth. There was nothing there when we went that first day, first time we went into that beach. It was an experience. You realize that, it’s like I remember the commanding officer of the Japanese was in the picture Tora, Tora, Tora, I don’t know whether you saw it or not. NT: Years ago. AK: Ma’am? NT: A long time ago. AK: Yes ma’am. But he stated after he was told that the Japanese had successfully bombed Pearl Harbor, he stated we have just unleashed a sleeping giant, we have just, when they said they’d bombed America, the United States, he said we’ve just unleashed a sleeping giant, and how right he was. Because we blew the hell out of them, the United States did. We’re the greatest country in the world ma’am. No one can come anywhere close to us, and our people of all walks of life, rich, poor, smart, dumb, brilliant, some cannot write their names, but they all banded together to make up the military of this country. NT: In World War II? AK: Yes ma’am. And we are proud of World War I, war that’s going on right now overseas, but we’ve got all sorts of people, but we’ve got one thing that no other country’s got, we’re Americans. And they can have any country over there, they’re not going to find another America. We’re the finest in the world. NT: That’s true. And Judge Kaplan, when you left the navy after World War II after 1945, you left the navy. What did you do then? AK: Well, I got a job, and I worked on that job several months, a little bit longer than maybe a year, but I was just unhappy. I was married, had a lovely wife, we did not yet have a child. And I was walking down Peachtree Street, I was going to get something to eat, and I passed by this cigar store on Forsyth Street, there was an Indian in the window. NT: I knew that cigar store, my father and grandfather bought cigars there. AK: Is that right? Well, I looked in that window, there was a mirror you could see yourself in. I said what do you want to do the rest of your life, because I was unhappy working in the job that I had. And I said I want to join the FBI. So on the corner of Forsyth Street, there’s a building called the Healey building, right across the old post office. NT: I know it too. AK: OK, that’s where the FBI office was. I went up there, this agent was interviewing me. He said do you have a degree in law, I said no sir. He said how about accounting. I said no. You have to have a degree in law or accounting, special abilities to get into the FBI. So that day I left that office and went to law school and enrolled in law school that same day. I graduated law school. NT: Where did you go to law school? AK: John Marshall. NT: John Marshall, right here in Atlanta. AK: Right here in Atlanta. I took the bar and passed it before I graduated. NT: That’s fabulous. AK: Well, it wasn’t all that hard then, it is hard now. NT: I bet it was hard. Well, you passed the bar exam. AK: It wasn’t like it was now, but it was hard, don’t misunderstand me, and you study, you know work in the daytime, I was studying at night, going to school at night, it’s a little difficult on you. And I had a little boy by that time. He’s now a surgeon, but at the time he was a small child. And another daughter, she’s a superior court judge in Gwinnett county and another daughter that’s a teacher at a Catholic school in Roswell, Georgia, and a wife of 57 years. Been married a long time. Great gal, she really is. NT: I’m sure. AK: She has snow white hair, like you are, beautiful smile, beautiful women. NT: But you passed the bar exam. AK: Yes ma’am, I wanted to go into the FBI, and she wouldn’t let me. She’s always hated machine guns and everything. NT: She was scared for you. AK: Yes ma’am. So I started teaching water safety. There’s a lady named Dorothy Fogle, I don’t know if you ever knew here or not, she was at the YWCA, and she had swimming classes at the YWCA and I started helping her late at night, trying to build practice up and working hard. I enjoyed the water. She became a very good friend. While I was there, I met a fellow from the Red Cross who was very nice. I began to get excited about working with the water, teaching water safety. And he left the Red Cross and a young man who I’ll just be honest with you, was the greatest man I’ve ever known in my life. He was a little bitty guy, I used to call him midget he was so small. But he was the biggest man that I’ve ever met. He and I became inseparable friends, and he worked for Red Cross and he got me involved in teaching water safety on a higher level. And then he came by the class one afternoon and said, Arthur, I’m going to do a first aid class, why don’t you come do it with me. So I did. And I got real interested in it, having a little experience that I had with boy scouts. Well I found that everything he was teaching, I had known something about it. Well, I finished that course that he was teaching, I had no idea that it would stay with me, and I’ve been at it ever since ma’am. And been married since 19, oh my gosh… NT: Right after the war? AK: Yes, a few years after the war, but to this day I still teach at emergency medical care at different hospitals, and ambulance attendants. I trained the first ambulance attendants at Grady Hospital 50 some odd years ago, the first ones. NT: That’s amazing. AK: And I helped, I joined emergency medical services. It’s been a great part of my life. To really be honest with you ma’am, it cost me a little bit in my marriage, nobody to raise the children and working full time because I was out teaching, riding the streets in the emergency medical services on the streets. I still do that. I’ve got a little age on me, I can’t do it like I used to do. Wait a minute. I brought this. I give this to you. This is the Georgia Amvets, state of Georgia, and they gave me the Silver Helmet Award for Americanism. Colin Powell got it for the military. NT: Wow. AK: This was back, oh, it’s been 15 years ago. I give that to you. NT: Thank you very much, we’ll put it with this _. When did you get to be a judge? AK: I became a judge about 30 years ago. I was working in municipal [court of] Atlanta and stayed there for 28 years. Left there, I went to the state court Fulton County for a short while, then I went to Magistrate Court, Recorders Court of DeKalb County, because I lived in Dekalb County. And that’s where I’m at now; I work part time there as a I did [at] the courts. And that’s what I do. NT: So you still work part time in the courts? AK: Yes ma’am. NT: You’re not a bit retired. AK: Not a bit retired. Of course, I put new tires on my cars about a month ago, that’s as close to retiring as I’m going to get. NT: So first you were a judge in Atlanta, municipal court in Atlanta, and then when you moved to Dekalb County…? AK: No, I was in municipal court of Atlanta, I went to state court, magistrate court of Fulton County and worked there for about a year and a half. Then they realized I had to be a resident of DeKalb county, which I was not, so I lived in DeKalb county for all this time, and I just help out now and help out in Recorders Court, just gives me something to do. But I still teach now; I teach, I’ve trained every Atlanta police officer on the police department for about thirty years. NT: What do you teach? AK: Teach trauma, how to keep a person alive in critical situations, they go through a regular first aid course in CPR, so forth, and I come in and teach a four hour course on how to keep a person alive with critical wounds like gunshot wounds to the throat or chest and massive hemorrhage and airway loss and things like that, how to keep them alive. NT: You have had a remarkable career, you really have. I want to go back to the frogmen and the war. Here is an article from the Atlanta paper, I think it’s the Journal; I can tell from the type that it’s the Journal, and it’s about a movie called “The Frogmen: A Thriller” and it came out, I wish there were a date on this because there’s not a date on here. It came out, and this is when, it’s at the Fox Theater I believe. I think I read in this article it was the Fox Theater. AK: It was at the Fox. NT: I think that’s what I read, Fox Theater. Here it is. “Twenty eight out of sixty seven men in this group made the grade. The thin warriors now featured in the Fox Theater’s exciting story of underwater warfare.” The frogmen. It says [reading]: Another Atlantan, a frogman who went into the beaches of Okinawa and other Jap infested islands in the Pacific three and four days ahead of the marines, was at the opening of the Frogmen movie, too. He is Arthur Kaplan, former Atlanta lifeguard and the only Atlantan to make the team of the underwater demolition service in World War II. When Kaplan was mustered out of the Navy in December 1945, he was told to keep his mouth shut. “Don’t talk to your friends, even relatives,” his commander told him. “The things you have done in the service are still top secret.” It was not until he had seen these top secrets revealed in the Hollywood movie “The Frogmen” that Kaplan was permitted to talk about his exploits. It was not until then that Kaplan could tell about how the underwater demolition team number 7 went into the beaches of Okinawa, Ie Shema, Angora, Peleliu, and other islands to clear the beaches of underwater obstacles. As he set restlessly watching the frogmen plant explosives on the shallow waters on Okinawa, Kaplan recalled how his team had planted hell boxes along the coast of Japanese infested islands. He recalled how several of his buddies were blown to bits when short fuses ignited charges… AK: That was partly right in the newspaper there, that was not correct. I don’t know where they got that from. We did lose some people, but not the way they described it. NT: “He recalled how his team planted a sign on the beach of a tiny island which proclaimed welcome Marines, courtesy underwater demolition team number 7. After seeing the movie, Kaplan said it’s every bit authentic. The underwater teams were organized after the navy found they were losing too many men because of underwater booby traps and coral reefs… TAPE 1 SIDE B NT:…at first we were sent,” this is quoting you, “at first we were sent onto the beaches on rubber life rafts. We made reconnaissance swims and returned the next day with explosives to clear the beaches, but after rifle fire from the beaches soon mounted our losses, and the navy designed the fins to give us more speed in the water. We were trained to swim three miles at sea, that’s a long way, and to stay under water for more than a minute. Several of Kaplan’s buddies went up into the harbors of Japan to destroy submarine nests, just as the picture shows.” So here was a movie about what you did, “The Frogmen,” and it was only after that movie that you could talk to your family. AK: Ma’am, when I saw that article in the paper, I didn’t know a thing about it. I got a call from somebody on the Atlanta Journ

Comments