Bill Dawson, the only living member of the original Navy SEAL team, celebrates 94th birthday
Veteran Bill Dawson, the last living member of the original Navy SEAL team, celebrated his 94th birthday on Thursday. Dawson, in 1943, was part of the first elite team of the Naval Combat Demolition Units, popularly known as "frogmen." The team eventually evolved into the military force that we now know as Navy SEALs.
Reports state that the 94-year-old was just 17 when he joined the Pacific Theater of Operations during World War II, and remained there until 1945 when the Japanese surrendered.
The veteran has also penned a book about his unique experiences in the force titled "Before They Were SEALs They Were Frogs."
"Bill provides a rare first-person look into the training, personalities, and non-classified activities of his unit in the Pacific Theater of Operations from 1943 until the end of his service after the Japanese surrender. The book reproduces photographs Bill took during his service, vintage clippings and rare examples of Japanese propaganda. Retired Navy SEAL Commander and noted Naval Special Warfare historian Tom Hawkins adds historic perspective and detail," the book's description says.
"Knowing today what I helped start developed into what it is today. It’s one of the greatest outfits in the world,” Dawson said, according to NBC Washington reports.
Dawson reportedly joined the Washington DC Fire Department after returning home from the war and continued to work there for over 20 years.
The veteran's 94th birthday was celebrated by his friends and family, which included his granddaughter and his great-granddaughter. Dawson's colleague from the fire department also joined Dawson on Thursday to celebrate the occasion.
Dawson’s granddaughter Sherrie Soos said: "He would talk to you for hours about all of the travels he did, all of the experience he gained and it just made him really proud of his service."
“He’s part of that brotherhood in the fire department for one,” said Greg Turnell, who assists Dawson in getting around. “He’s done a lot for our country and our community.”
Turnwell then joked that Dawson's inspiring work is not the only thing people should look up to.
"The fact that he’s collected a pension for 45 years — that's even more inspiring," he added.