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First Name: Roy

Last Name: Boehm

Birthplace: Brooklyn, NY, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Middle Name: H.

Date of Birth: 09 April 1924

Date of Death: 30 December 2008

Rank or Rate: Lieutenant Commander

Years Served:
Roy H. Boehm

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)
•  Korean War (1950 - 1953)
•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


Roy H. Boehm
Lieutenant Commander, U.S. Navy

Roy H. Boehm was born on 9 April 1924 in Brooklyn, NY.

At the age of 17, Boehm enlisted in the U.S. Navy in April 1941 to become a diver and saw action in the Pacific Theater of Operation during World War II from February 1942 until the conclusion of the war in 1945.

His first billet, as a hardhat diver, was aboard the USS Duncan (DD-485), a newly commissioned Gleaves-class destroyer. The ship entered the wreckage of Pearl Harbor for last-minute repairs and refitting before proceeding to the ocean war in the South Pacific. Qualified divers on all vessels entering Pearl Harbor were temporarily assigned to the base to assist in salvage of sunken ships. Boehm was tasked with salvaging the sunken USS Arizona and diving to recover corpses and ammunition.

Boehm was a veteran of one of the largest "all surface" sea engagements of World War II, the Battle of Cape Esperance at Guadalcanal. During the battle, Boehm was serving on the destroyer USS Duncan when the ship received fifty-eight 6" and 8" shell hits at point blank range before going down. With shrapnel embedded in his head and body, he saved one of his shipmates from burning to death by plunging into the ocean. Subsequently, he had to literally fight off sharks, who killed the sailor he tried to save.

Boehm participated in the following campaigns and engagements: Battle of the Coral Sea, Bougainville, Truk, Green Island, Emerau, Saipan, Tinian, and Guam. He was engaged in supplying arms and ammunition to the guerrillas in the Philippines and fought the Japanese in Kerama Reto and Okinawa.

After World War II, Boehm briefly left the Navy, but reenlisted after a few months of civilian life. He served as Chief Boatswain's Mate aboard the USS Worcester (CL-144) during the Korean War providing fire support for the Marine Corps landing at Inchon and covering the retreat at the Chosin Reservoir. In 1955 Boehm went through UDT (Underwater Demolition Team) training at the age of 31. Because of his prior experience as a deep-sea diver he had the opportunity to test prototype submersibles and swimmer-delivery vehicles. Eventually he was commissioned as an officer and even became friends with Marine Lieutenant General Lewis "Chesty" Puller, often driving the General home from the Officer's Club after the General had too much to drink.

In early 1960, Boehm developed, designed, implemented, and led the U.S. Navy's commando organization known as the SEALs (Sea, Air, Land). He was the first Officer in Charge (OIC) of SEAL Team Two. Boehm personally selected the men for this unit, the first two being Rudy Boesch as Master-at-Arms and Hoot Andrews as Storekeeper.

While forming the SEALs, Boehm was subjected to a Board of Inquiry but never court-martialed five times for offenses such as modifying issued gear (high-altitude parachutes and diving rigs) to make them suitable for the SEALs' purposes and for purchasing weapons such as AR-15s on the open market as opposed to going through official channels or the Navy's Bureau of Weapons. The investigations were dropped after he received a Presidential One Priority from the White House.

Boehm's idea for a Naval Commando Unit went back to his time in the Pacific in World War II. He envisioned highly motivated and highly trained warriors like the Frogmen and UDTs operating beyond the beachhead. He felt that his men should have a variety of training to give them an edge in unconventional warfare beyond diving, shooting, demolitions, martial arts, and parachuting and expanded the curriculum to include photography, intelligence gathering, and sailing. He even sent SEALs to train in prisons to learn skills such as lockpicking, safecracking, and hotwiring cars from professional criminals.

Boehm assisted in the design and implementation of the Navy's first counterinsurgency course, for which he received the Navy Achievement Medal. Following this, he was named head of the Navy's River Patrol Craft Division where he developed tactical procedures, organized, and trained River Patrol Boat sailors for Operation Game Warden in Vietnam. As an advisor in Vietnam, Boehm befriended and grew to respect one of his enemies, the commander of a local Vietcong Battalion named Minh.

Lieutenant Commander Boehm retired from the Navy in 1971.

Medals and Awards

Bronze Star Medal with Combat "Valor" Device
Purple Heart
Meritorious Service Medal
Air Medal
Navy Achievement Medal
Presidential Unit Citation (1942)
Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation (1967)
Navy Good Conduct Medal with 3 Bronze Stars
China Service Medal
American Defense Medal
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with 1 Silver Star, 1 Bronze Star and Arrowhead Device
World War II Victory Medal
Navy Occupation Service Medal
National Defense Service Medal with 1 Bronze Star
Korean Service Medal with 2 Bronze Stars
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Vietnam Campaign Medal
Presidential Unit Citation (Philippines)
Korean Presidential Unit Citation
Philippine Liberation Medal
United Nations Korean Medal
United Nations Medal
Vietnam Campaign Medal
USN Expert Rifle Medal
USN Expert Pistol Medal


SEAL Insignia
Parachutist Badge


On 19 August 2009, President Obama signed Public Law No. 111-59 (H.R. 2470), sponsored by Congressman Tom Rooney, which officially named the Murdock Post Office in Port Charlotte, FL, located in Charlotte County in which Boehm lived, as the "Lieutenant Commander Roy H. Boehm Post Office Building."

In Retirement

After retiring, Boehm became a pilot and powered paraglider enthusiast and was active in veteran's organizations.


Lieutenant Commander Roy H. Boehm died on 30 December 2008 at his home in Punta Gorda, FL. He was 84. According to his wife Susan, he wanted his death to go unpublicized. "He wanted no obituary, no funeral service and no fanfare," she said, "He just wanted to go in peace."

Boehm was cremated. Press reports indicate his ashes are in an urn at the home he shared with Susan that contains a miniature ship's cabin with bunk and sea bag.

Honoree ID: 2267   Created by: MHOH




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