JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii – Hawaii government officials, community representatives, and retired and active servicemembers from all branches of the military gathered on the U.S. Army Vessel Lt. Gen. William B. Bunker (Logistic Support Vessel 4) for the 71st West Loch Disaster Remembrance Ceremony on May 21, 2015 that was hosted by U.S. Army Pacific and the 8th Theater Sustainment Command.
Hawaii government officials, community representatives, and retired and active service members from all branches of the military gathered on the U.S. Army Vessel Lt. Gen. William B. Bunker (Logistic Support Vessel 4) for the 71st West Loch Disaster Remembrance Ceremony hosted by U.S. Army Pacific and the 8th Theater Sustainment Command at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, May, 21, 2015. This was the second largest tragedy in Pearl Harbor during WWII. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Nicole Howell)
On May 21, 1944 Army troops were loading ammunition, weapons and fuel onto vessels in preparation for Operation Forager, a World War II campaign on the Mariana Islands. Following an explosion, fire spread through the West Loch – a Landing Ships and Tank staging area of Pearl Harbor U.S. Naval Base.
Over the next 24 hours, six LSTs sank, 163 personnel died, and 396 personnel were injured in what was the second largest tragedy in Pearl Harbor during the war. Nearly one-third of the casualties were from the Army's segregated African American 29th Chemical Decontamination Company. Despite the devastation, the critical mission was only delayed one day, demonstrating the resolve and courage of the Sailors, Marines and Soldiers involved.br>
“Like so many other military disasters, the story of the events here at West Loch is a story of supreme courage in the face of death and valor shown between joint teammates in dire circumstances,” said Maj. Gen. Edward F. Dorman III, the 8th TSC Commanding General. “The courage displayed by these men pushed them to save one another, and to continue the mission.”
During the remembrance, the LSV-4 crew transported the distinguished guests across Pearl Harbor from Bishop Point to the West Loch where they conducted a ceremony, and as a sign of respect and remembrance, the youngest Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine, and Coast Guardsman laid a wreath in the same sacred waters where the individuals lost their lives.
Dorman said, “While this is a memorial, it is more importantly a day which exemplifies the American spirit, one of courage, commitment, and most importantly one of strength with character.”
The LSV remembrance was followed by another West Loch remembrance ceremony with military honors at the National Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl Crater.
Courtesy of U.S. Army 8th Theater Sustainment Command
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