Dawson, William Lewis
Birth: Saturday, April 18, 1925 in Washington, D.C.
Residence: Waldorf, Maryland
Death: Monday, May 13, 2019 at the age of 94
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William Lewis "Bill" Dawson, age 90, passed away
peacefully at his home in Waldorf, Maryland on May 13,
He was born on April 18, 1925 in Washington, DC. He was the son of William Albert
Dawson and Elizabeth Howard Dawson. Bill attended Chamberlin High School
(1943) in S.E. Washington, DC and worked at the Washington Navy Yard as a young
teenager. It was at the Washington Navy Yard on December 7, 1941 (at the young age
of 17) where Bill made the decision to join the war effort of World War II. He was also
a retired Firefighter of the Washington, DC Fire Department. He was also the author
of "Before They Were SEALS." Arrangements by Raymond Funeral Service.
Published in The Washington Post on May 25, 2019
WILLIAM "Bill" DAWSON (1925 - 2019)
DAWSON WILLIAM L. DAWSON "Bill" (Age 94) William L. Dawson, U.S. Navy
veteran WWII and retired Firefighter of Washington D.C. Fire Department passed
away peacefully at his home in Waldorf, Maryland on May 13, 2019. He was 94 years
William L. Dawson was born April 18, 1925 in Washington, D.C. Bill attended
Chamberlin H.S. in S.E. and worked at the Washington Navy Yard as a young
teenager. It was at the Washington Navy Yard, December 7, 1941 at the young age of
17, where Bill made the decision to join the war effort of WWII.
Bill was among 42 Navy men chosen and assigned to Ft. Pierce, Florida that made
up a small amphibious unit called The Naval Combat Demolition Unit, later referred to
as Frogmen. These men formed the first class of NCDU and underwent intense
training at Ft. Pierce, Florida. Bill Dawson and his fellow Frogmen were tasked with
clearing the beaches for General MacArthur's island-hopping campaign northward
through the western Pacific towards his return to the Philippines.
From 1943 to 1945 Bill and his small team of Frogmen made 12 invasions in the
Pacific theater, from NewGuinea, through the Philippines to Borneo. After his
discharge from the Navy, Bill longed for a job that resembled the excitement and
brotherhood of his Navy days. He found this career with the D.C. Fire Department. Bill
served with the D.C.F.D. Engine 8, from 1949 until his retirement in 1971.
In 2015, with the help of Commander Tom Hawkins, USN. Ret., and good friend Lisa
Merriam, Bill authored a book entitled, "Before They Were SEALs, They Were Frogs".
Through the course of several decades, Bill faithfully attended annual SEAL musters
and reunions at Ft. Pierce, FL and Virginia Beach, VA, along with monthly D.C.F.D.
His wife Eva who passed away in 2013 and one stepdaughter Barbra who passed in
2006 preceded Bill in death. Also preceded in death are his father William A.
Dawson, mother Elizabeth Howard Dawson, and sister Ruth.
Four remaining stepchildren, grandchildren and great grandchildren survive Bill along
with several nieces and nephews.
Bill led a life of service in both wartime and peacetime. His small team of "Naked
Warriors" paved the way for future Frogmen and they left a wake of history and legacy
at the stern. Bill enjoyed God's beauty in everything, and he enjoyed all that life had to
offer. He struggled with life issues but at the end of the day, he found his peace with
It is only fitting to close his obituary with the final words penned from his book. "I am
blessed to have had the opportunity to stand next to the greatest of men and to call
them friends and brothers. Though my time with the Navy was short, it cast a long,
bright glow over my whole life. The Navy SEAL Ethos talks about being "forged by
adversity". I know we had plenty of that. Yet, adversity is not what endures in my heart.
For me, what endures is the legacy of my teammates, the character and honor of
good men whom I came to know well and to trust to the ends of the earth. They have
steadied me in the worst moments, and our life long bond will sustain me to my final
day". William "Bill" Dawson. ...Rest in peace Frogman......Rest in peace Frogman...