Frogmen Wednesday, August 2, 2017 12:20 PM By Emily Martin
My dad wanted to be a Frogman when he grew up. Seeing how I thought his ambition growing up was to be Superman, I was puzzled. Then my dad explained.
During the late 1950s and early ’60s, when I was 5 to 9 years old, there was a TV show called Sea Hunt, starring Lloyd Bridges. The main character was a scuba diver (and I think a former Navy frogman/member of an underwater demolition team (UDT)). Most of the action took place underwater.
It was one of my favorite shows. I liked it so much, I “played” Sea Hunt in the tub, when I was supposed to be taking a bath–wearing goggles and filling up the tub as much as possible so I could feel like I was really underwater. At one point, I told my parents that I wanted to be a frogman when I grew up.
During that time, cereals offered free things in the cereal box or you sent away for them. As the show went along, Kellogg’s began offering a free frogman in the box, where you would use baking power to make it go up and down in a bowl of water (submarines were also in some cereal boxes–I got a couple of those too). There were three types of frogmen. One carried a knife, one a mine, and the other one something else (can’t remember). All of them were about 1.5 inches in length. But later Kellogg’s offered larger frogmen if you submitted three or four box tops and $2 or $3. These frogmen looked the same as the ones that came in the cereal but they were bigger – about three inches in length. So, besides getting some in the box of cereal, I had to send off to get all three big frogmen.
My dad’s collection of cereal box Frogmen
According to my uncle, having his frogmen in the bath was the only way my dad would voluntarily take a bath. So, I guess it was between letting my dad sit in the tub with his frogmen and snorkel or go dirty. I think my grandma made the right choice.
Over the years, the frogmen eventually were either lost or thrown out during the many moves my dad’s family made between Army bases. And while he did not become a frogman he did become an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard. He also earned his scuba certification as a senior in high school, though he never had a chance to use it. Maybe now that he’s retired he’ll find the time to relive his childhood dreams.
Emily was born into a Coast Guard family, originally from Virginia. She went to college at Christopher Newport University and received a B.A. in history. Following undergrad she continued her education and received M.A. in American history from George Mason University. Before becoming the photo researcher for USNI, she was an intern with the Marine Corps History Division. While with the History Division she became the first recipient of the Shaw Fellowship in Marine Corps history. She is the author of an article which was published Leatherneck, titled Crusading for Right, in March 2012. Emily presented the paper at the Society for Military History Conference in April 2013 with fellow historians from USMC History Division after she began work at USNI in October 2012.