TYR Tactical

“America’s First Frogman,” John Spence, Dead at 95

Everyday America loses more and more of its greatest generation. These are the men and women I grew up listening to and learning from. My grandparents and their friends and relatives endured the the Great Depression and served our nation in World War II and Korea before passing the torch to my parents’ generation. Yesterday, I found out that another man I had never heard of had passed away. While I can’t begin to memorialize each and every one of them, I’d like to tell you a little about John Spence, because he had profound influence on our Nation’s earliest amphibious commando capabilities.

Born in 1918, Spence enlisted in the US Navy in 1936 as a Gunner and Diver. After the attack on Pearl Harbor he was recruited into the Office of Strategic Services where he helped developed an amphibious raid capability. While training near Quantico, VA he worked with a new green rubber suit. According to an obituary in Spence’s local paper, the Bend Bulletin, he told biographers, “Someone saw me surfacing one day and yelled out, ‘Hey, Frogman!’ The name stuck for all of us … but once again, I was the first.” Apparently, that’s where the term “Frogman” originated. Later in the war, Spence went on to return to the Fleet and retired in 1961. The man lived a full life, and served his country during some its most dire moments. He will be missed.

Be sure to read the entire story here.

3 Responses to ““America’s First Frogman,” John Spence, Dead at 95”

  1. MRC says:

    Respect! The pioneers ventured into the land (water) of the unknown!

  2. Bman says:

    Brave soul… We aren’t often reminded of the SEAL’s roots in the OSS. UDT’s and NCDU’s are normally the first get mention but the Scouts and Raiders were very similar to the modern SEALs. The OSS also had a lot of involvement in maritime and diving capabilities though I suppose most of their members were pulled from the Army.

  3. Invictus says:

    The OSS has an incredible history of heroes just like John Spence. Herringbone Cloak – GI Dagger is a must read for anyone who enjoys the history of war, and especially asymmetrical warfare.

    If you don’t mind reading online:


    Rest easy, frogman, enjoy your final duty station.