Draper Kauffman

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Draper Laurence Kauffman
Rear Admiral Draper L. Kauffman.jpg
Born(1911-08-04)4 August 1911
San Diego, California
Died18 August 1979(1979-08-18) (aged 68)
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
United States
Service/branch Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (1940–41)
United States Navy (1941–73)
Years of service1941–1973
Rank Rear Admiral
Commands heldNaval Combat Demolition Unit
Underwater Demolition Team 5
USS Gearing (DD-710)
Destroyer Division 122
USS Bexar (APA-237)
USS Helena (CA-75)
Destroyer Flotilla Three
United States Naval Academy
U.S. Naval Forces in the Philippines
9th Naval District
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Navy Cross (2)
Navy Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Legion of Merit [1]
Relations James L. Kauffman (father)

Rear Admiral Draper Laurence Kauffman (4 August 1911 – 18 August 1979) [2] was an American underwater demolition expert, who served during the 1960s as 44th Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy. During World War II, he organized the first U.S. Navy Demolition Teams, which later gave rise to the SEALs. His wartime service also included participation in the invasions of Saipan, Tinian, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. [3]

Rear admiral in the United States refers to two different ranks of commissioned officers — one-star flag officers and two-star flag officers. By contrast, in most nations, the term "rear admiral" refers to an officer of two-star rank.

Underwater demolition refers to the deliberate destruction or neutralization of man-made or natural underwater obstacles, both for military and civilian purposes.

United States Naval Academy The U.S. Navys federal service academy

The United States Naval Academy is a four-year coeducational federal service academy adjacent to Annapolis, Maryland. Established on 10 October 1845, under Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft, it is the second oldest of the United States' five service academies, and educates officers for commissioning primarily into the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps. The 338-acre (137 ha) campus is located on the former grounds of Fort Severn at the confluence of the Severn River and Chesapeake Bay in Anne Arundel County, 33 miles (53 km) east of Washington, D.C. and 26 miles (42 km) southeast of Baltimore. The entire campus is a National Historic Landmark and home to many historic sites, buildings, and monuments. It replaced Philadelphia Naval Asylum, in Philadelphia, that served as the first United States Naval Academy from 1838 to 1845 when the Naval Academy formed in Annapolis.


Childhood and education

Draper L. Kauffman, the son of Vice Admiral James L. Kauffman, was born in San Diego, California, on 4 August 1911. He attended St. Albans School in Washington, D.C., and Kent School in Kent, Connecticut and was appointed to the United States Naval Academy from Ohio in 1929. [4]

James Laurence Kauffman was a United States Navy Vice Admiral and recipient of the Navy Cross. He and his son Rear Admiral Draper Laurence Kauffman were the namesakes of USS Kauffman (FFG-59).

San Diego City in California, United States

San Diego is a city in the U.S. state of California. It is in San Diego County, on the coast of the Pacific Ocean in Southern California, approximately 120 miles (190 km) south of Los Angeles and immediately adjacent to the border with Mexico.

California State of the United States of America

California is a state in the Pacific Region of the United States. With 39.6 million residents, California is the most populous U.S. state and the third-largest by area. The state capital is Sacramento. The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second and fifth most populous urban regions, with 18.7 million and 9.7 million residents respectively. Los Angeles is California's most populous city, and the country's second most populous, after New York City. California also has the nation's most populous county, Los Angeles County, and its largest county by area, San Bernardino County. The City and County of San Francisco is both the country's second-most densely populated major city after New York City and the fifth-most densely populated county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs.

Kauffman graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1933, but poor eyesight denied him a commission in the regular Navy.

World War II

Volunteer service in Europe, 1940–1941

Employed by the United States Lines Steamship Company, his travels in Europe alerted him to the danger of Nazi Germany. In February 1940, he joined the American Volunteer Ambulance Corps in France. On 16 June, he was captured by the Germans and held prisoner for two months.

United States Lines transport company

United States Lines was an American transatlantic shipping company that operated cargo services from 1921 to 1989, and ocean liners until 1969—most famously, SS United States.

France Republic with mainland in Europe and numerous oversea territories

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

Released in August, he made his way to England and was commissioned a sub-lieutenant in the British Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, later rising to lieutenant. At the height of the Blitz on London (1940–1941), he served as a bomb and mine disposal officer, and achieved a high degree of proficiency in bomb disposal techniques. [4]

Sub-lieutenant is a junior military officer rank.

The Blitz bombing of London during WWII

The Blitz was a German bombing campaign against Britain in 1940 and 1941, during the Second World War. The term was first used by the British press and is the German word for 'lightning'.

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital and largest city of both England and the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

U.S. Navy service, 1941–1945

Securing a U.S. Naval Reserve commission a month before Pearl Harbor, Kauffman was rushed to Hawaii after the Japanese attack, and there disarmed an enemy bomb, the first to be recovered intact for study. For this action, the Navy awarded him a Navy Cross.

Pearl Harbor harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii

Pearl Harbor is a lagoon harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, west of Honolulu. It has been long visited by the Naval fleet of the United States, before it was acquired from the Hawaiian Kingdom by the U.S. with the signing of the Reciprocity Treaty of 1875. Much of the harbor and surrounding lands is now a United States Navy deep-water naval base. It is also the headquarters of the United States Pacific Fleet. The U.S. government first obtained exclusive use of the inlet and the right to maintain a repair and coaling station for ships here in 1887. The attack on Pearl Harbor by the Empire of Japan on December 7, 1941, was the immediate cause of the United States' entry into World War II.

In January 1942, he was assigned the task of organizing a U.S. Naval Bomb Disposal School at the Washington Navy Yard. This school is one of the forefathers to the Explosive Ordnance Disposal School (NAVSCOLEOD) at the Kauffman Training Facility at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, which is managed by the Navy and staffed by all services to train the Department of Defense EOD technicians. As an additional duty he assisted the U.S. Army in setting up a comparable school at Aberdeen, Maryland.

Washington Navy Yard former shipyard and ordnance plant of the United States Navy

The Washington Navy Yard (WNY) is the former shipyard and ordnance plant of the United States Navy in Southeast Washington, D.C. It is the oldest shore establishment of the U.S. Navy.

Eglin Air Force Base census designated place

Eglin Air Force Base (AFB) is a United States Air Force base in western Florida, located about three miles (5 km) southwest of Valparaiso in Okaloosa County.

Aberdeen, Maryland City in Maryland

Aberdeen is a city located in Harford County, Maryland, 26 miles (42 km) northeast of Baltimore. The population was 14,959 at the 2010 United States Census. Aberdeen is the largest municipality in Harford County.

In June 1943, he organized the first U.S. Navy Demolition Teams, which later became the well-known Underwater Demolition Teams (the forerunner of the SEALs) and received orders as the first commanding officer of the Naval Combat Demolition Unit, Naval Amphibious Training Base, Fort Pierce, Florida. While there, he also organized and was the first chairman of the Joint Army-Navy Experimental and Testing Board (JANET).

In April 1944, he was ordered to the Pacific Fleet and served at the Naval Combat Demolition Training and Experimental Base, Maui, Hawaii as the commanding officer of Underwater Demolition Team 5 (UDT 5); as senior staff officer, Underwater Demolition Teams, Amphibious Forces, Pacific Fleet; and as Underwater Demolition Training Officer, Amphibious Training Command, Pacific Fleet.

As commander of UDT 5, he participated in the invasion of Saipan, and received a second Navy Cross for leading his team in a daylight reconnaissance of fortified enemy beaches under heavy fire, and on 10 July 1944, leading a night reconnaissance of heavily defended beaches at Tinian island.

During World War II, Kauffman also participated in the assaults on Iwo Jima and Okinawa as Commander Underwater Demolition Teams. On two occasions, he had to transfer from a damaged ship to another to carry on operations. In one such occasion at Iwo Jima in 1945, after an enemy aircraft bombed his ship and started a raging fire, he directed fire control efforts in the face of exploding ammunition. [4]

Cold War naval career

His first postwar assignment came in February 1946 when he was assigned to Joint Task Force One, the organization which conducted "Operation Crossroads", the atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll. Later under the CNO, as head of the Defense and Protection Section, he established the U.S. Navy Radiological Safety School, and aided in setting up a comparable school for the Army.

From October to December 1947, he was assigned to the carrier Valley Forge (CV-45) and was aboard her during her round-the-world cruise in 1948. Following a month's instruction at the Fleet Sonar School in Key West, Florida, he commanded the destroyer Gearing (DD-710) from December 1948 until July 1950, when he entered the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. Upon completion of the logistics course in June 1951, he remained for two years as a member of the Strategy and Tactics Staff. [4]

In June 1953, he assumed command of Destroyer Division 122. In 1954, Kauffman served in the Strategic Plans Division under the CNO, and in 1955 was appointed Aide to the Under Secretary of the Navy and later Secretary of the Navy, Thomas S. Gates, Jr..

In August 1957, he assumed command of the attack transport Bexar (APA-237) which he commanded until August 1958 when he was ordered to duty as Assistant Chief of Staff for Plans on the staff of the Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet. In January 1960, he commanded the heavy cruiser Helena (CA-75).

In July 1960, Kauffman was selected as Rear Admiral, and he became Commander Destroyer Flotilla Three (later redesignated Cruiser Destroyer Flotilla Three). In 1962, he became Chief of the Strategic Plans and Policy Division.

In 1965, he became the 44th Superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy, where he served for three years. His next assignment was as the Commander of the U.S. Naval Forces in the Philippines, and Representative of the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific, a billet once filled 25 years earlier by his father.

In June 1970, he became commandant of the 9th Naval District, headquartered at Great Lakes Naval Station, Illinois, with an additional duty as Commander of the Station.

Rear Admiral Kauffman retired from the Navy on 1 June 1973 and became the 9th president of Marion Military Institute from 1974 to 1976. [5] He died in 1979.


The Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate Kauffman (FFG-59), launched in 1987, was named in honor of Draper Kauffman and his father, Vice Admiral James L. Kauffman (1887–1963). [6] His roles as the founder of U.S. Naval Bomb Disposal and as the founder of the UDT/SEALs were also commemorated in the creation of the Kauffman EOD Training Complex at Eglin AFB, Florida, and the Draper L. Kauffman Naval Special Warfare Operations Facility in Norfolk, Virginia. [7] His great-niece named her first-born child after her great uncle. Professor Kelsey Kauffman, of DePauw University, is his daughter and is an author. Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, founder of SumOfUs, is a granddaughter.

See also

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  1. "Military Times Hall of Valor : Awards for Draper Laurence Kauffman". militarytimes.com. Retrieved 30 August 2010.
  2. "Draper Kauffman : USNA Cemetery" (PDF). usna.edu. Retrieved 30 August 2010.
  3. Kauffman, Elizabeth (2004). America's First Frogman: The Draper Kauffman Story. U.S. Naval Institute Press.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Rear Admiral Draper L. Kauffman, Bio File, Operational Archives, Naval Historical Center.
  5. Marion Military Institute Fact Book 2010-2011 p.3
  6. "USS Kauffman – History". kauffman.navy.mil. Archived from the original on 14 August 2010. Retrieved 30 August 2010.
  7. "NAVEODTECHDIV – History". navsea.navy.mil. Archived from the original on 26 January 2011. Retrieved 30 August 2010.
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Preceded by
C.S. Minter Jr.
Superintendent of United States Naval Academy
Succeeded by
Lawrence Heyworth Jr.