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First Name: Draper

Last Name: Kauffman

Birthplace: San Diego, CA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Home of Record: San Diego, CA
Middle Name: Laurence

Date of Birth: 04 August 1911

Date of Death: 18 August 1979

Rank or Rate: Rear Admiral

Years Served: 1941-1973
Draper Laurence Kauffman

Graduate, U.S. Naval Academy, Class of 1933

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


Draper Laurence Kauffman
Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy

Draper Laurence Kauffman was born on 4 August 1911 in San Diego, CA.

Kauffman graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1933. Due to poor eyesight, Kauffman was denied a commission in the Regular Navy. He went to work at the U.S. Steamship Lines, and his travels in Europe alerted him to the danger of Nazi, Germany. In February 1940, he joined the American Volunteer Ambulance Corps in France. On 16 June 1940, he was captured by the Germans and held prisoner for two months. He escaped in August 1940 and made his way to England via Spain and Portugal. He then volunteered for the Royal Navy and was commissioned a sub-Lieutenant in the British Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve.

At the height of the blitz on London, he served as a bomb and mine disposal officer, and achieved a high degree of proficiency in bomb disposal techniques. Kauffman then reapplied for a U.S. Naval Reserve commission in November of 1941 and due to his new found proficiency in bomb disarmament, he was accepted. He was commissioned and was immediately sent to Pearl Harbor after the attack to disarm a 500 lb. enemy bomb.

After establishing bomb disposal schools for the Navy and Army, now Lt. Commander Kauffman in 1943 organized the Navy's first demolition units, later to be known as Underwater Demolition Teams. This team would be the precursor of the current teams, "The Seals." After commanding all Underwater Demolition Teams (UDTs), then referred to as "frogmen" in the invasion of Saipan, Tinian and Guam, Commander Kauffman planned and directed demolition operations at Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

His first postwar assignment came in February of 1946 when he was assigned to Joint Task Force One, the organization which conducted Operations CROSSROADS, the atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll. Later under the Chief of Naval Operations as head of the Defense and Protection Section, he established the U.S. Navy Radiological Safety School. In 1954 now Captain Kauffman, served in the Strategic Plans Division under the Chief of Naval Operations and in 1955 was appointed Aide to Secretary of the Navy.

In 1960 Kauffman was selected as Rear Admiral and in 1962 he became Chief of the Strategic Plans and Policy Division. In 1965 he became the 44th Superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy, where he served for three years. His next assignment was as the Commander of the U.S. Naval Forces in the Philippines, and Representative of the Commander in Chief, Pacific. In June of 1970, he became Commandant of the 9th Naval District headquartered at Great Lakes Naval Station, Lake County, IL.

For Kauffman's meritorious and extraordinary service, he was awarded two Navy Cross Medals and two Distinguished Service Medals. On 1 June 1973, Kauffman retired from the Navy.

Death and Burial

Rear Admiral Draper Laurence Kauffman died on 18 August 1979 in Budapest, Hungary, while on a tour with members of a Naval Academy Alumni Group. He is buried at the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis, MD.

Honoree ID: 2692   Created by: MHOH




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