Erick Simmel presents the

70th Anniversary O.S.S. (Office of Strategic Services)
MU (Maritime Unit) & OSG (Operational Swimmer’s Group)
Southern California Heritage, Gathering of secret
Agents and watermen "Swimmandos",who started it all!

Erick Simmel presents the

70th Anniversary O.S.S. (Office of Strategic Services)
MU (Maritime Unit) & OSG (Operational Swimmer’s Group)
Southern California Heritage, Gathering of secret
Agents and watermen "Swimmandos",who started it all!

As 2012 marks the 70th Anniversary of the founding of O.S.S., the United States first covert espionage organization for secret, unorthodox overseas wartime operations, many have no idea that Southern California is highly responsible for all this to have taken place. (The modern O.S.S. direct successor is today’s CIA...) This 70th Anniversary includes the Amphibious classified O.S.S. Maritime Unit-Special Operations Diving Unit and its Operational Swimmers Groups, who were the forerunners of Navy SEALs, who they themselves this year celebrate their 50th Anniversary.

This event is to celebrate, recognize and honor how the O.S.S. "Swimmandos" (swimmer/commando, combat swimmer/frogmen…) which came to be, via a very storied legend and lore that is steeped in Southern California’s geographic, societal, Hollywood and waterman-ship history. The event will bring together the remaining O.S.S MU and MU Operational Swimmer-veteran personnel and their families, to honor them at the places where the key men of the Swimmers developed their diving and waterman techniques to make this type of special maritime warfare possible.

This event will be conducted by O.S.S. Swimmer expert Erick Simmel who will Q & A the honored guests on this historic topic. This event at the Adventurers Club is the first evening leading three other days of insights to secret and pioneering sites on the Santa Monica and Los Angeles coastline, Catalina Island, Newport beach and Camp Pendelton.


The first night’s Guest of Honors are:

Mr. Walter Mess:
Some Operatives never live a life like 007. Occasinally one comes around.

At 99 years old and 8 months (He turns 100 on December 20th 2012...)...The legendary Walter Mess was one of General Donovan’s “Best and Brightest” of O.S.S. and particularly O.S.S. Maritime Unit.

A true American treasure and enigma, by 1937 when Mr. Mess played professional football, he already spoke several languages and held law and business degrees and a Coast Guard Ships’ “Master” rating which would soon help him on several of his future secret operations. In 1937--4 years prior to the U.S.A. involvement in WW II -- Mess was recruited by Donovan, who at the time was in private law practice, into Donovan’s private OI (= Office of Intelligence – the “Blackwater” of its Day) while completing his PhD in Law, at Catholic University at night. There, he became one of the United States most private secret agents:

By 1938 – Mess was trained by the British and then dropped into Czechoslovakia where he walked out to the Adriatic with four 13-15 yr olds for training in the USA and reinsertion as USA agents. Mess also set up interaction with the British Station Chief and Tito. (One of those boys became USA Ambassador to Slovakia in recent years).

In 1939 - Again flown by the RAF into Poland on similar mission - Brought out three more young men.

In Nov`41 into US Army for COI (pre O.S.S. training) Pulled from OCS to repeat `37-`38 missions.

In 1942 things really started to heat up. Working at COI, Mess ventured to the Philippines on a mission by submarine. Later that year, he was in Morocco with the then new (O.S.S.) team to resupply a team to bring more gold to buy off the Vichy French to insure the French would not shoot at U.S. troops upon landing in operation Torch!

Late 1942/ early 1943 - Mess attended Boat training in the Gulf Mexico the Florida Keys and Cuba on his Army Air crash Sea rescue boat P-564 which would later become the O.S.S. Maritime units’ Flotilla operating in the China Burma India Theater. Mess repaired the cracked hull of a “Liberty ship” in Anchorage, Alaska. O.S.S. boats P-564 & 563 loaded in San Diego liberty ship. Mess was the ship's Captain across the South Pacific to Ceylon via Sydney & Calcutta.

In late 1943 he commenced ultra classified OSS MU ops in the Bay of Bengal against Japanese forces. Mess became an official O.S.S. operative and MU’s senior “flotilla officer commander” of O.S.S. Maritime Unit Operations in Burma, India and Thailand. As senior flotilla officer for O.S.S. SEAC MU operations, Mess’s O.S.S. air crash sea rescue (PT) Boat P-564 numbered over 36 missions with P-564 across the Bay of Bengal for official O.S.S. MU operations ferrying OG and Operational Swimmer teams; Also returned over 220 downed pilots & crewmen from 3 E&E pickup points on Burma coast.

In April 1944 he became primary boat for Dr Lambertsen and swimmers for combat evaluation of system and then swimmers became integral part of O.S.S. OG (operational groups) and SI (secret intelligence) missions. These missions included many of the first to be contucted underwater.

This did not include the occasional interruptions for special individual missions for the Viceroy of India, Lord Louis Mountbatten head of the British SOE and is the O.S.S. Swimmer counterpart, the SRU.

In 1945 when the Japanese were eliminated from the Burma Coast, P-564 ["Jeanie"] no longer needed. Walter transferred to O.S.S. Det. 404 and assisted with air support missions to O.S.S. teams in the interior of Burma and Thailand. He made 10-15+ parachute jumps, including leading 30-50 Kachins (Burmese Highlanders) on 7 jumps to clear 7 landing strips for Air Ops...

Mr. Mess had over 100 secret operations under his leadership—many unbelievable—all very classified missions. Mr. Mess is a tireless, vigorous and stalwart example of the MU leadership General Donovan envisioned and is a lasting pioneer for all modern day U.S. Navy, Coastguard, Marine Corps and law enforcement, maritime , Special Boat unit operations and Air Force Special Tactics Squadron missions which American Treasure O.S.S. pioneer Walter Mess squarely left his foot print on.

Other Scheduled O.S.S Swimmer guests are Weldon, Abbott, Soltau, and Backus.

Mr. Henry “Hank” Weldon: Mr. Weldon was a Navy Specialist recruited into OSS OSG Group A training. His group were the first O.S.S combat swimmers to train at Catalina Island’s secret O.S.S. base known as “Area WA, Toyon Cove”. During this phase of the training Hank was part of a “training mission “which was the first operation to pit combat swimmers against America’s maritime harbor defenses and successfully prove that a combat swimmer unit could defeat a standing port security element.

Mr. Gordon “Gordie” Soltau: Mr. Soltau who would later gain fame as a San Francisco 49er football player in the post WW II era, was during the war, a very young and highly athletic USN O.S.S. Operational Swimmer who landed agents and saw action in England with the L- Unit, and in Burma and Malaysia.

Mr. Norman Abbott: OSS OSG Group II in Burma. Trained at Camp Pendleton, Catalina Island and the Bahamas Islands, before engaging in Operations in Burma Thailand and Malaysia. Norman was the nephew of comedian Lou Abbot of Abbott and Costello comedy fame. He had a long time post war dramatic motion picture and television industry career as a director.

Mr. Sam Backus: As a Operational Swimmer with OSG II in Burma, Backus would later be part of the first official Navy sponsored simulated attack on a U.S. Navy facility by combat swimmers, attacking and sinking several U.S. Ships in Guantanamo Bay Cuba… and the first unofficial Lobster Dive using a SCUBA rebreather on the California Coast off Laguna Beach. Backus would later deploy to Burma for operations along the Burmese Arakan Coast.

Commander Tom Hawkins USN (Ret.): (invited) SEAL and authority on O.S.S. Navy Officer Jack Taylor considered by many to be the first and O.S.S. Missions and their post war legacy into the U.S. Navy SEALs.

Master Chief Harold Dunnigan USN (Ret.): Former Santa Monica Lifeguard who as a pre Korean War era young Santa Monica Lifeguard knew and trained with many of the prewar SM and LA County Lifeguards who became OSS Operational swimmers. Chief Dunnigan would later become highly entrenched within the Navy UDT and SEAL programs as well as becoming one of the longest serving Los Angeles County Lifeguards He was all so the basis for a influential character on the successful dramatic TV Series Baywatch.

Martin Sugarman, PhD: (invited) Sugarman's life reads like a Graham Greene spy novel, the title of which could be 'Surfer Dude, Man of Mystery.' In between Sugarman’s sojourns as a artist and combat photographer in both Kashmir and Bosnia in the 1990’s His great contribution to the preservation to the O.S.S. swimmers was knowing many of them without knowing who they really were. His Chronology of their stories intertwined with his expertise on the rich history of Santa Monica Canyon, where many of the pioneering O.S.S. waterman and lifeguards, Bob Butts, Pete Petersen, Fred Wadley Gard Chapin Art Garrett and Frank Donahue and Fred Zendar lived and worked Sugarman knew them in their later lives and learned their stories as part of his great scholarship of ‘California Cool and Watermanship, H2O Magazine. H2O set the standard for highlighting the (Will Rogers) state's beach culture and spotlighting the surfer waterman lifestyle.

Craig Lockwood: Laguna beach based Lifeguard Author historian and expert on watermanship will discuss the Southern California Waterman ship era before 1941 and after 1945 until the middle 1950’s.

Arthur C. Verge, PhD: LA County Lifeguard, author & historian of the Los Angeles area watermen.

As 2012 marks the 70th Anniversary of the founding of O.S.S., the United States first covert espionage organization for secret, unorthodox overseas wartime operations, many have no idea that Southern California is highly responsible for all this to have taken place. (The modern O.S.S. direct successor is today’s CIA...) This 70th Anniversary includes the Amphibious classified O.S.S. Maritime Unit-Special Operations Diving Unit and its Operational Swimmers Groups, who were the forerunners of Navy SEALs, who they themselves this year celebrate their 50th Anniversary.

This event is to celebrate, recognize and honor how the O.S.S. "Swimmandos" (swimmer/commando, combat swimmer/frogmen…) which came to be, via a very storied legend and lore that is steeped in Southern California’s geographic, societal, Hollywood and waterman-ship history. The event will bring together the remaining O.S.S MU and MU Operational Swimmer-veteran personnel and their families, to honor them at the places where the key men of the Swimmers developed their diving and waterman techniques to make this type of special maritime warfare possible.

This event will be conducted by O.S.S. Swimmer expert Erick Simmel who will Q & A the honored guests on this historic topic. This event at the Adventurers Club is the first evening leading three other days of insights to secret and pioneering sites on the Santa Monica and Los Angeles coastline, Catalina Island, Newport beach and Camp Pendelton.


The first night’s Guest of Honors are:

Mr. Walter Mess:
Some Operatives never live a life like 007. Occasinally one comes around.

At 99 years old and 8 months (He turns 100 on December 20th 2012...)...The legendary Walter Mess was one of General Donovan’s “Best and Brightest” of O.S.S. and particularly O.S.S. Maritime Unit.

A true American treasure and enigma, by 1937 when Mr. Mess played professional football, he already spoke several languages and held law and business degrees and a Coast Guard Ships’ “Master” rating which would soon help him on several of his future secret operations. In 1937--4 years prior to the U.S.A. involvement in WW II -- Mess was recruited by Donovan, who at the time was in private law practice, into Donovan’s private OI (= Office of Intelligence – the “Blackwater” of its Day) while completing his PhD in Law, at Catholic University at night. There, he became one of the United States most private secret agents:

By 1938 – Mess was trained by the British and then dropped into Czechoslovakia where he walked out to the Adriatic with four 13-15 yr olds for training in the USA and reinsertion as USA agents. Mess also set up interaction with the British Station Chief and Tito. (One of those boys became USA Ambassador to Slovakia in recent years).

In 1939 - Again flown by the RAF into Poland on similar mission - Brought out three more young men.

In Nov`41 into US Army for COI (pre O.S.S. training) Pulled from OCS to repeat `37-`38 missions.

In 1942 things really started to heat up. Working at COI, Mess ventured to the Philippines on a mission by submarine. Later that year, he was in Morocco with the then new (O.S.S.) team to resupply a team to bring more gold to buy off the Vichy French to insure the French would not shoot at U.S. troops upon landing in operation Torch!

Late 1942/ early 1943 - Mess attended Boat training in the Gulf Mexico the Florida Keys and Cuba on his Army Air crash Sea rescue boat P-564 which would later become the O.S.S. Maritime units’ Flotilla operating in the China Burma India Theater. Mess repaired the cracked hull of a “Liberty ship” in Anchorage, Alaska. O.S.S. boats P-564 & 563 loaded in San Diego liberty ship. Mess was the ship's Captain across the South Pacific to Ceylon via Sydney & Calcutta.

In late 1943 he commenced ultra classified OSS MU ops in the Bay of Bengal against Japanese forces. Mess became an official O.S.S. operative and MU’s senior “flotilla officer commander” of O.S.S. Maritime Unit Operations in Burma, India and Thailand. As senior flotilla officer for O.S.S. SEAC MU operations, Mess’s O.S.S. air crash sea rescue (PT) Boat P-564 numbered over 36 missions with P-564 across the Bay of Bengal for official O.S.S. MU operations ferrying OG and Operational Swimmer teams; Also returned over 220 downed pilots & crewmen from 3 E&E pickup points on Burma coast.

In April 1944 he became primary boat for Dr Lambertsen and swimmers for combat evaluation of system and then swimmers became integral part of O.S.S. OG (operational groups) and SI (secret intelligence) missions. These missions included many of the first to be contucted underwater.

This did not include the occasional interruptions for special individual missions for the Viceroy of India, Lord Louis Mountbatten head of the British SOE and is the O.S.S. Swimmer counterpart, the SRU.

In 1945 when the Japanese were eliminated from the Burma Coast, P-564 ["Jeanie"] no longer needed. Walter transferred to O.S.S. Det. 404 and assisted with air support missions to O.S.S. teams in the interior of Burma and Thailand. He made 10-15+ parachute jumps, including leading 30-50 Kachins (Burmese Highlanders) on 7 jumps to clear 7 landing strips for Air Ops...

Mr. Mess had over 100 secret operations under his leadership—many unbelievable—all very classified missions. Mr. Mess is a tireless, vigorous and stalwart example of the MU leadership General Donovan envisioned and is a lasting pioneer for all modern day U.S. Navy, Coastguard, Marine Corps and law enforcement, maritime , Special Boat unit operations and Air Force Special Tactics Squadron missions which American Treasure O.S.S. pioneer Walter Mess squarely left his foot print on.

Other Scheduled O.S.S Swimmer guests are Weldon, Abbott, Soltau, and Backus.

Mr. Henry “Hank” Weldon: Mr. Weldon was a Navy Specialist recruited into OSS OSG Group A training. His group were the first O.S.S combat swimmers to train at Catalina Island’s secret O.S.S. base known as “Area WA, Toyon Cove”. During this phase of the training Hank was part of a “training mission “which was the first operation to pit combat swimmers against America’s maritime harbor defenses and successfully prove that a combat swimmer unit could defeat a standing port security element.

Mr. Gordon “Gordie” Soltau: Mr. Soltau who would later gain fame as a San Francisco 49er football player in the post WW II era, was during the war, a very young and highly athletic USN O.S.S. Operational Swimmer who landed agents and saw action in England with the L- Unit, and in Burma and Malaysia.

Mr. Norman Abbott: OSS OSG Group II in Burma. Trained at Camp Pendleton, Catalina Island and the Bahamas Islands, before engaging in Operations in Burma Thailand and Malaysia. Norman was the nephew of comedian Lou Abbot of Abbott and Costello comedy fame. He had a long time post war dramatic motion picture and television industry career as a director.

Mr. Sam Backus: As a Operational Swimmer with OSG II in Burma, Backus would later be part of the first official Navy sponsored simulated attack on a U.S. Navy facility by combat swimmers, attacking and sinking several U.S. Ships in Guantanamo Bay Cuba… and the first unofficial Lobster Dive using a SCUBA rebreather on the California Coast off Laguna Beach. Backus would later deploy to Burma for operations along the Burmese Arakan Coast.

Commander Tom Hawkins USN (Ret.): (invited) SEAL and authority on O.S.S. Navy Officer Jack Taylor considered by many to be the first and O.S.S. Missions and their post war legacy into the U.S. Navy SEALs.

Master Chief Harold Dunnigan USN (Ret.): Former Santa Monica Lifeguard who as a pre Korean War era young Santa Monica Lifeguard knew and trained with many of the prewar SM and LA County Lifeguards who became OSS Operational swimmers. Chief Dunnigan would later become highly entrenched within the Navy UDT and SEAL programs as well as becoming one of the longest serving Los Angeles County Lifeguards He was all so the basis for a influential character on the successful dramatic TV Series Baywatch.

Martin Sugarman, PhD: (invited) Sugarman's life reads like a Graham Greene spy novel, the title of which could be 'Surfer Dude, Man of Mystery.' In between Sugarman’s sojourns as a artist and combat photographer in both Kashmir and Bosnia in the 1990’s His great contribution to the preservation to the O.S.S. swimmers was knowing many of them without knowing who they really were. His Chronology of their stories intertwined with his expertise on the rich history of Santa Monica Canyon, where many of the pioneering O.S.S. waterman and lifeguards, Bob Butts, Pete Petersen, Fred Wadley Gard Chapin Art Garrett and Frank Donahue and Fred Zendar lived and worked Sugarman knew them in their later lives and learned their stories as part of his great scholarship of ‘California Cool and Watermanship, H2O Magazine. H2O set the standard for highlighting the ( Will Rogers) state's beach culture and spotlighting the surfer waterman lifestyle.

Craig Lockwood: Laguna beach based Lifeguard Author historian and expert on watermanship will discuss the Southern California Waterman ship era before 1941 and after 1945 until the middle 1950’s.

Arthur C. Verge, PhD: LA County Lifeguard, author & historian of the Los Angeles area watermen.

The exciting Event will continue for the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday with the O.S.S. MU Swimmer (veterans) to Pre war historic locales on the LA and Santa Monica coastline, a voyage on the only operational O.S.S. era Crash boat the P-520, to where the men who would become O.S S. Wartime secret training areas on Catalina Island and Camp Pendleton. This will be followed by a BarBQ at the residence of late O.S.S. Swimmer Operative Jim Eubankand his wife Vera (tentative). Club members and guests will invited to additional events, subject to space availability.

FOR FURTHER EVENT DETAILS and Updates, Please Contact the Event Director:

Erick Simmel, SFGEAR-OSSLTD
Telephone: 213-307-6682
Or Email: Erick@MaritimeUnit.org


For more information about this site contact:
Star Enterprises Group -
Business Information & Marketing Services
info@starenterprisesgroup.com


Download Full Event Information & History [ Here ]
And if you need to, you can install
Adobe Reader
[Free Here]