At zero two hundred on the morning of June 6th 1944, Ensign Lawrence Karnowski slipped into the dark frigid waters of the North Atlantic. His small band of men had no wetsuits. Each man carried simply a knife and about 50 pounds of explosives heading into battle. They were embarking on one of the most dangerous and important missions of World War II. Ensign Karnowski and his men were members of the Naval Combat Demolition Units (NCDU’s), the forefathers of the modern day Navy SEAL teams. While their role in the Normandy invasion remains relatively unknown, they were a small but critical piece of an epic battle that has been lionized in celluloid and popular culture.
This year, 30 active duty and former SEALs are honoring the first SEALs, the NCDUs, and their incredible heroism in their first assaulting the beaches of Normandy. On June 6, the 74thanniversary of their historic D-Day mission, a group of SEALs and a few gritty civilians are undertaking an epic Swim/Ruck challenge. We are recreating the spirit of the D-Day mission with a 6.2-mile swim in the English Channel finishing on the beach at the Omaha landing site.