One of our SOFREP readers passed this on to me via Facebook.

Note: I haven’t personally verified John Spence’s biography with but he seems pretty legit, and it’s a great read. 



OSS to First Frogman: John Spence 

I was born in 1918 in Centerville, Tennessee.  My dad was the local sheriff so I tell everyone that I was in jail for my first six years.  I lost my dad when I was 9.  He was ambushed by a bunch of moonshiners.

I joined the Navy in 1936.  After boot camp in Norfolk, Virginia, I was sent to Diver school where I was taught as a Hard Hat Deep sea diver.  I was assigned to the USS Idaho.  All of the large ships in those days had a deep sea diver group.  Along with my duties as a gunner when the need arose, I would be called upon to deep sea dive.  It made my monthly paycheck $10 fatter.  I mustered out of the Navy after 4 years and went to work for Lockheed Aircraft till the Japs attacked Pearl Harbor.

I then went to the Navy Department in Washington and volunteer for the Armed Guard.  They were the gunners who were protecting the merchant ships.  I was told ‘You must be crazy.  The Armed Guard are losing 85% of their gun crews.   But, I can see by your record that you have been a deep sea diver and we have a request for one.  Are you interested?’.  I told them, yes, and they sent me to the Navy Yard in Washington where I stayed for 3 weeks and could not find out anything from anyone.