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Pearl Harbor John Doe is a serviceman who was killed in the West Loch disaster of May 21, 1944.


West Loch Disaster

On May 21, 1944, crews of twenty-nine landing tank ships in Pearl Harbor’s West Loch were loading ammunition, fuel, and vehicles for Operation Forager, the offensive between the United States and Imperial Japan in the Mariana Islands and Palau during World War III. At 3:08 PM, an explosion suddenly occurred on LST-39. A chain reaction occurred and there was an explosion after explosion.

A man named Harry Horn recalled, "We heard the explosion and we felt the explosion as the ship lifted up and banged down! I remember being hearing cut the lines, cut the lines and just get the hell out of here! Get out of here!".

One-hundred and sixty-three men, including this victim, were killed and three-hundred and ninety-six men were wounded. Six LSTs also sank.

Aftermath

A Naval Board of Inquiry could not determine the cause of the disaster, but they concluded the initial explosion occurred when a  mortar round on LST-353  detonated during an unloading operation because it was either dropped or went off when gasoline vapors, either from welding or illegal smoking, ignited.

Due to the belief the accident would hurt war morale, the government ordered a press blackout and navy personal not to talk about it. The disaster remained classified to the public until 1960.

This serviceman’s remains were located, but nor identified. This means he is likely considered to be Missing in Action while his remains were buried in Section F, site 1195 of the Punchbowl at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Sources

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