Harry W. Lockhead was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1925. He grew up in Chatham where his step-father had a butcher stop. Lockhead had an older sister. His biological father left the family when Lockhead was two. His mother was from Scotland and was a good cook. Lockhead was in high school at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack. He was a Sea Scout and visiting another troop. The police stopped them because they looked like sailors. The officers took the scouts to a local base. The officers were told an error had been made and the youngsters were released. By March or April 1943, Lockhead had convinced his mother to sign his enlistment papers for the US Navy. His Sea Scout experience was one of the factors in his decision to join the Navy.
Harry Lockhead was sent to Great Lakes for his Navy boot camp training. The discipline was no different than he had at home. He was a sportsman and in good shape so he was put in charge of boot physical exercise. He was given a rating as a "square knot admiral" because he was just a seaman telling other seamen what to do. Lockhead's Sea Scout training was beneficial when he became a sailor. He received good training and gave it to others. After boot camp, he had a week's training. Afterward, he attended cooks and bakers school at Purdue University. He was sent there because of his previous experience in his father's butcher shop. After graduation, he was sent to his first ship at Pleasanton, California. The ship was the USS Giansar (AKA-111). It was a cargo ship. His Sea Scout know-how made him comfortable going aboard the new ship. His bunk folded up during the day. He was ship's cook. His general quarters position was as an ammunition bearer for one of the guns. There was nothing to do during down time except playing cards. Lockhead was not a gambler. He kept track of who owed who and got ten percent as a result. The ship left California and went to Pearl Harbor.
Harry Lockhead was aboard USS Giansar (AKA-111) when it arrived at Pearl Harbor and picked up supplies bound for American Samoa. For the next series of months, the ship would shuttle supplies from Pearl to Samoa. A concussion would eventually damage the ship's hull. It was run aground because repair facilities were not available for it at Pearl Harbor. The crew was sent back stateside to take on another ship, the USS Lenawee (APA-195), a personnel carrier. First mission was to pick up a company of Marines and bring them to Tarawa. During that time, Lockhead observed the landings. When a call was made for volunteers for underwater swimmers to reconnoiter beaches before landings, Lockhead knew what happened without that intelligence. He volunteered to become part of the team.
Harry Lockhead received his Naval Combat Demolition training at its base in Maui. The men learned and developed UDT [Annotator's Note: underwater demolition team] techniques of reconnoitering beachheads and blowing up obstacles. There was trial and error involved in blowing lava seams offshore. They had to learn the ways to maximize damage with minimal work and explosives. Deployment and retrieval of swimmers had to be developed. The swimmer's standard equipment was swim trunks, mask and knife with two explosive packs. Each pack was 24 pounds. If they needed more, they would raft in more explosives at night and sink them. Charges would be installed the next morning. Everything they did was experimental. Lockhead was on Maui for six or eight months. There were 120 men who volunteered out of the fleet. They were divided into six teams of 20 men each. Eventually, this changed to four teams with 100 men in each. Lockhead received the most satisfaction when his six man team developed the best way to deploy and retrieve swimmers out of the water. The use of a rubber raft adjacent to the mother ship allowed swimmers to roll into the raft and then into the water and keep moving. Conversely, swimmers would be pulled into the raft one at a time while underway and then move into the larger boat. The twin loop rope used for retrieval has never changed. Lockhead's team's methods have never been improved. There was no liberty for the trainees except when they went fishing. They would trade fish for steaks with the locals.
Harry Lockhead knew he would leave Maui bound for the invasion of Japan. Fort Pierce, Florida was set up for UDT [Annotator's Note: underwater demolition team] training and routed new men through Maui. As UDT men were lost, replacements came from the original 120 men trained on Maui. They were battle hardened and were used as fill in for losses. With only 75 men left, 25 more were added from Fort Pierce so that UDT-20 was formed with a 100 man complement. Lockhead was anxious to go to Japan and get things over with. That was the objective. Cold water training for UDT-20 was performed while other teams went to Okinawa. Lockhead and his team were on the way to Japan when Truman [Annotator's Note: President Harry S. Truman] dropped the first bomb. With the second bomb, it was anticipated that Japan would surrender but it was not certain. Lockhead and his team continued to Japan and become the first Americans to enter Yokosuka Naval Base. Two other teams stayed in Tokyo harbor where munitions had to be destroyed. UDT-20 was sent to a shipbuilding and naval training facility at Hokkaido. It turned out that there was little of value there. The senior officer surrendered to UDT-20. When Lockhead entered a Japanese school, he found that all the students and teachers could speak English. They were preparing to invade America. The natives had not been bombed so their feelings toward the Americans were not particularly negative. Lockhead attended a Japanese propaganda movie while he was there. [Annotator's Note: Lockhead laughs.] Lockhead never hated the Japanese because he looked at each one as an individual. He experienced no problems with the inhabitants of Hokkaido. The USS Cook (APD-130) brought UDT-20 to the Philippines en route to the United States. Some of the team had previously been flown directly home from Tokyo. Lockhead missed that opportunity despite having spent two and a half years in the Pacific. Little communication by mail was used because of the censorship. Lockhead brought a souvenir Japanese flag home with him. He returned home by way of Pearl Harbor to Coronado, California where the team was disbanded. He was discharged in early 1946.
Harry Lockhead never considered staying in the Navy after the war ended. He was discharged as a Ship's Cook 1st Class. He never used the G.I. Bill. Being a carpenter, his salary was more than most college graduates. Lockhead's transition back to civilian life was no problem. He had no posttraumatic stress after discharge. His most memorable experience during the war was when he was spear fishing off Maui. It got dark while he was submerged. He discovered that he was under a giant manta ray. He had to escape and get some air without being caught by the giant fish. His participation in UDT-20 means much to him. He is proud of his service. He has friends who are SEALs. Many Marines have thanked him. Many of his innovations developed during the Second World War are still used. Lockhead was motivated to fight because he wanted to be free. He was a loner who enjoyed individual sports rather than team sports. Going into the service was not a big change for him as a result. After service, he decided to be a carpenter because he was good with his hands and the money was lucrative. The postwar building boom seemed like an opportunity for him. His military service helped earn freedom for him and everyone else. Lockhead wanted to point out that UDT-20 had a father and son in it. Lockhead became a godfather for one of the new men who joined the team so there was a father and son combination in the team. [Annotator's Note: Lockhead laughs.] The National WWII Museum provides a great learning experience for all Americans to discovered what keeps us free.
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