LITTLE CREEK, Va. (NNS) -- The Naval Special Warfare (NSW) community held its 41st annual East Coast Underwater Demolition Team (UDT)/ Sea, Air and Land (SEAL) reunion at Joint Expeditionary Base, Little Creek, July 16-18.
The event reunites active and retired Navy SEALs for a weekend focused on NSW history, heritage, and family support.
"It keeps the team spirit going," said retired Senior Chief Machinist's Mate (River Division 533 and 572) Bill Ferguson. "I consider these guys to be my brothers."
The annual reunion started in 1969 and has expanded into a weekend of events, contests, and a SEAL capabilities exercise.
"The original ones were smaller," said Bobby Cox, executive director of the UDT/SEAL Association and reunion chairman for the past five years. "They were done at the Chiefs' Club picnic area and other spots on base. This reunion continues to evolve as membership grows."
And as membership grows, so do the volunteers.
"We had about 100 volunteers this year," said Cox. "These guys are here year-in-year-out. We couldn't do it without them."
This year's reunion began with a golf tournament and a skeet shoot competition, followed by a tennis tournament. Competitive sports are a mainstay at the reunions because they reinforce the mentality of working together toward a common goal - utilizing the teamwork of many generations of Navy frogmen.
The key event of the weekend was the capabilities demonstration, which showcased UDT/SEAL tactics and equipment, while providing a brief history of the origins of the Naval Special Warfare community.
Nearly 6,000 active duty and retired SEALs, along with their friends and families, gathered at "E" beach where the Navy "Leap Frogs" christened the event by landing with a wreath and an American flag as the national anthem played.
"It's amazing to see what this community has become since I was around," said William Dawson, 85-year-old Naval Combat Demolition Unit (NCDU) 2 veteran and member of NCDU class one. "I'm very proud to be part of this outfit," he said. "I sometimes wonder; if I were still young, could I do what these guys do? I bet I could."
For more news from Naval Special Warfare Group 2, visit www.navy.mil/local/nswgtwo/.