Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

WWII Mystery: Are 'Missing' Sailors Actually in NY Cemetery?

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

WWII Mystery: Are 'Missing' Sailors Actually in NY Cemetery?

Article excerpt

It's a confounding mystery of World War II: What happened to the 136 missing sailors from the explosion and sinking of the destroyer Turner?

After all, the ship did not go down in battle or even in the open sea, but while anchored near New York Harbor in 1944, so close to the city that shockwaves from the onboard munitions blasts shattered windows in some buildings.

Now, newly discovered documents show that the remains of four of the missing sailors were indeed found and buried not long after the disaster in separate graves for unknowns in a Long Island veterans cemetery.

And the researcher who found the documents suspects many more remains could have been found and buried along with them in those same simple gravesites, marked only with the words "Unknown U.S. Sailor" and "January 3, 1944," the day the destroyer sank.

"Just don't throw them in the ground and forget about them," said military historian Ted Darcy, who is turning over his findings to the Pentagon. "These guys have been neglected by our government. It's not fair, especially to their families."

Darcy's hope is that the military will exhume the four gravesites, identify the remains and rebury them with a proper memorial.

The Pentagon still officially lists 136 Turner sailors as missing. The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, the federal office responsible for recovering and identifying the nation's missing war dead, didn't respond to repeated requests from The Associated Press about Darcy's findings.

The Turner, a 10-month-old destroyer returning from convoy duty in the Atlantic, was anchored a few miles off Sandy Hook, N.J., when an explosion erupted below deck, setting much of the ship ablaze. More explosions followed, the last breaking the ship in two.

While no cause of the initial blast was ever determined, a Navy report mentioned anti-submarine munitions were being defused around the time.

More than 150 men were rescued, but 136 others went down with the ship, according to Darcy's research. He said the Navy's National Archives file on the yearlong salvage operation contains no information, including how many sets of remains were eventually recovered from the 55 feet of water where the ship sank. …

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