Monday, April 22, 2013

OSS Veteran and Combat Diver Pioneer's Last Dive

Ashes of combat dive pioneer, OSS veteran Christian Lambertsen committed to the sea.

Someone once described the ideal OSS candidate as a Ph. D. who could win a bar fight....well that was Dr. Lambertsen. Lambertsen, a World War II combat diver from the Office of Strategic Services and life-long medical scholar, conducted his "final combat dive mission" during a ceremony March 10 when his ashes were committed to the Atlantic Ocean.

Lambersten passed away Feb. 11, 2011 at the age of 93.

Lambertsen's 70-year career is layered with scientific achievement, beginning in 1941 with the invention of the Lambertsen Amphibious Respiritory Unit -- which he later renamed the Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus, or SCUBA.

"When World War II broke out, everyone realized they needed people to be able to sneak in and blow up ships," said Maj. Trevor Hill, an Army Special Forces officer and the commander of the Special Forces Underwater Operations School in Key West. "Lambertsen brought [the LARU] to a meeting with the Office of Strategic Services … he got in a pool and demonstrated that he could breath underwater, without creating bubbles, which was mind-blowing at the time."

Lambertsen trained the operational swimmers for a newly created OSS maritime unit, and joined them as a direct-commission U.S. Army major following his medical school graduation -- where he was first in his class.

Lambertsen spent most of World War II as a member of the Pacific Fleet Underwater Demolition Team, leading numerous underwater missions in Burma to attach explosives to Japanese ships. He also served as his unit's medical officer.

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