Index of News Items

Flag Salute: Veterans Not In Uniform May Now Render Military Salute


The controversy about rendering the hand salute has been solved by the President signing the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008 (Public Law 1410-181) and included a section (Section 594) addressing this issue.According to the law, “All persons present in uniform should render the military salute. Members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute.”All other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, or if applicable, remove their headdress with the right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart.”Citizens of other countries present should stand at attention. All such conduct toward the flag in a moving column should be rendered at the moment the flag passes.”

One of the Best Kept Secrets of World War II

Pearl Harbor’s Second Disaster Remembered: West Loch

Story Number: NNS030527-07 Release Date: 5/27/2003 2:54:00 PM

By Journalist 2nd Class John Watts, Naval Media Center Pearl Harbor Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (NNS) — May 21, 1944, for the second time in less than three years, Pearl Harbor’s skies were choked with black smoke and her waters littered with death. Fifty-nine years to the day, Sailors from Naval Magazine Pearl Harbor gathered to commemorate the anniversary and honor those Sailors and Marines who lost their lives in the West Loch Disaster.

“Most people are completely unaware of the event that we are remembering today,” said Capt. John McMahon, commanding officer Naval Magazine Pearl Harbor. “But we remember.” Their memories begin at an isolated and sleepy tree lined portion of Pearl Harbor, where 29 tank landing ships (LSTs) prepared for a major battle during World War II. The United States was planning a massive attack on Saipan. Sailors and Marines hustled to load each LST and prepare for war. It was to be the D-Day of the Pacific. But something went wrong. Amidst the loading of ordnance, hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel, trucks and small arms, one of the LSTs exploded for a reason never definitively determined.

Quickly, a chain reaction of explosions dealt flaming shards of steel into the air. Thick black smoke billowed into the air, while oil slicks crept across the water. The Sailors and Marines scattered. Some attempted in vain to put out the growing number of fires. Others tried to save themselves and their shipmates. Their mission was complicated by debris in the water that fowled rescue boat’sengines. Once again, Pearl Harbor was in a panic.

“In all, six LSTs were sunk, and several severely damaged. Dead were 163 men, and 396 were wounded,” said Naval Region Hawaii Public Affairs Officer Lt. Cmdr. Jane Campbell. Campbell went on to say that the West Loch disaster was veiled in secrecy so as not to compromise the U.S. operations in the ongoing war. The attack, however, was delayed only by one day and was a major catalyst leading to the surrender of the Japanese. Unfortunately, many Pearl Harbor shipmates could not be a part of the attack.

Today, According to McMahon, the West Loch disaster serves as a reminder to the Sailors working at Naval Magazine of just how important and how dangerous their job can be. While the ships are different, the mission is very much the same. Arm the fleet. Just across from Naval Magazine is the bow of LST 480. Rusted and wrecked, she is the only remaining visible evidence of the heroic actions and mournful loss of life during Pearl Harbor’s second disaster.

Snapshot photo by Robert L. Dennebaum, U. S. Navy, taken from LST-272

West Loch (Pearl Harbor) – LST explosions May 21, 1944 ravage Saipan Invasion Forces.

Catastrophe in West Loch (Pearl Harbor), May 21, 1944 when fire and explosions killed or injured 559 men and destroyed six LSTs (Landing Ship, Tank) and three LCTs (Landing Craft, Tank), plus critically needed supplies of the Saipan Invasion Forces.

Note: the LST 480 is still there today , across the lochfrom the naval magazine at West Loch ( Pearl Harbor) with its bow sticking out of the water rusting away.
Picture courtesy of the Star Bulletin Honolulu Hawaii

War in the Pacific

Guadalcanal Chronicles


Courtesy of Howard C. BENDER, YNC, USN.

Mission Viejo, CA August 7.1942 to July 13, 1943

Guadalcanal Island is an Island in the Solomon Group, 100 miles long, and 50 miles wide. The ships comprising Task Force 62 and 67 were attack transports, cargo ships, heavy and light cruisers, destroyers and aircraft carriers whose purpose was to land assault troops, reinforcements, and supplies to advanced bases. Basic armament of the transports and cargo ships were 3″.50 AA, 20 mm. AA, 50 cal. water cooled AA weapons and one 5”51 surfaced gun located on the stern. This was the most bitterly contested action of war in American history since the campaign of Northern Virginia during the Civil War. It was composed of:

  • Seven major naval engagements
  • Ten pitched land battles
  • Innumerable forays bombardments and skirmishes

Major Naval Air Engagements:

  1. Guadalcanal August 7,8,9, 1942 Tulagi, Gavutu, Florida Islands.
  2. Battle of Savo Island August 9, 1942
  3. Battle of Easter Solomons August 24, 1942
  4. Battle of Cape Esperance October 11, 12, 1942
  5. Battle of Santa Cruz Island October 26, 27, 1942
  6. Naval Battle of Guadalcanal November 12-15, 1942
  7. Battle of Tassaforonga and November 30, 1942 and Renell Island January 30. 1943


  1. Battle of Vela Lavela February 17, 1942
  2. Battle of Kolomabangara July 13, 1943

Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor

Brief Description of Events at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941

  1. At 0712 local time, Sunday, December 7, 1941, the destroyer USS WARD advised that she had been attacked by an enemy submarine and that she had counter-attacked with depth charges. She was subsequently credited with sinking the attacking submarine and her Commanding Officer, Lt. W.W. Outerbridge, was decorated. This was the first action of that memorable morning.
  2. At 0755 enemy aircraft were seen approaching from the northward and attacks on Ford Island and ships in the harbor were begun immediately thereafter.
  3. At 0842 a Japanese midget submarine was sunk in Middle Loch by ramming by the USS MONAGHAN and by gunfire from the USS CURTISS after resurfacing.
  4. At 0910 dive bomber attacked the battleship PENNSYLVANIA, and the destroyers CASSIN and DOWNES, all in number one Drydock. the PENNSYLVANIA was struck by one five-hundred pound fragmentation bomb at frame 83 starboard, about eight feet, about eight feet in from the side of the ship. This bomb exploded on the upper deck and caused heavy personnel casualties. The CASSIN was struck by a 100-pound incendiary bomb which passed through the ship and exploded next to the DOWNES. This opened the DOWNES’ oil tanks and ignited oil. Another incendiary bomb exploded between the two destroyers and a third bomb struck the director platform of the DOWNES and exploded in the chart house.
  5. Heat of the oil fires caused detonation of five-inch ammunition and warheads on the DOWNES, doing great damage. The PENNSYLVANIA was easily repaired, but the CASSIN and DOWNES were abandoned after being re-floated and removed from the Drydock. About fifty percent of their machinery was recovered and used in new hulls. Another bomb hit the west wall of the dock and cut the crane rail. Also, flames from the CASSIN and DOWNES damaged the forty-ton Drydock crane.
  6. In the same attack (0910), planes heavily bombed the YFD-2(located just Ewa of number three Drydock) containing the destroyer SHAW and the tug (YT-9) SOTOYOMO. The SHAW was hit by three bombs (200-300 pounds) which exploded below decks, rupturing the forward fuel tanks and scattering burning oil. Heat from the oil fire was the probable cause of the ensuing explosion of the forward magazine, which wrecked the hull as far back as Frame 56. One of the most famous pictures of the war was of this explosion, taken from Ford Island. The tug SOTOYOMO was wrecked by the fire and explosion. The YFD sank from holes in her bottom caused by approximately five bombs, four of which affected her watertight integrity. Her watertight compartments were pierced by 155 fragments.
  7. At 0758 the USS HELENA and the USS OGALALA were attacked at Baker 2, 1010 Dock. At the attack, the HELENA was moored inboard of the OGALALA and was struck on the starboard side by an aerial torpedo which passed under the OGALALA. The pressure wave from this explosion pushed in the OGALALA’S port bilge and caused flooding. The OGALALA got underway and moved astern of the HELENA alongside of 1010 Pier, where she capsized and sank. The HELENA was not heavily damaged and was quickly repaired, after Drydock. During the above described attack, an enemy bomb struck 1010 Pier at Baker 3 doing damage to the concrete. This was probably a 500-pound armor piercing type bomb.
  8. At 0758, the USS MARYLAND was attacked at Berth F-5, where she was moored inboard of the OKLAHOMA. She was struck by two bombs forward. The first bomb exploded on impact; the second entered the port side below the water line and exploded, causing considerable flooding and putting the bow down about five feet.
  9. In the same attack (0758), the USS WEST VIRGINIA was heavily damaged and sunk at F-6 by probably six torpedoes and two large bomb hits. The torpedo hits wrecked the port side. There was also great damage from the bomb hits and from the oil fires. The WEST VIRGINIA was moored outboard of the TENNESSEE and took the brunt of this attack. Evidence was subsequently found to indicate that three men survived below decks until 23 December 1941.
  10. When the WEST VIRGINIA settled to the bottom of the harbor she squeezed hard against the USS TENNESSEE, which was moored inboard, and pushed her hard up against the forward quay, causing hull damage. In order to release the TENNESSEE it was necessary to remove about half of the reinforced concrete of the quay. TENNESSEE was also struck by two 15-inch armor piercing projectile type bombs and burned severely by oil fire on water from ARIZONA.
  11. Greatest damage of all was sustained by the USS ARIZONA, moored at B-7 which was struck by one torpedo and probably seven bombs, one of which was probably 1,000 – 2,000 pounds and went down the stack. Another is believed to have penetrated to the black powder magazines, destroying the whole ship’s forward structure in the resulting explosion. The ARIZONA is still on the bottom with 1100 bodies in her. She sunk in 0758 attack.
  12. The USS OKLAHOMA was berthed at F-5, outboard of the USS MARYLAND, and was struck by four aerial torpedoes. She capsized and sank at approximately 0810.
  13. The USS NEVADA was moored astern of the ARIZONA at Berth f-8 and was struck by one torpedo in the initial (0758) attack. She was able to get underway at approximately 0855 and proceeded down South Channel. She was heavily attacked by dive bombers at approximately 0910, opposite YFD-2 and sustained five or six bomb hits. Two of these bombs passed through the ship and exploded, causing heavy flooding. She was beached on Waipio Peninsula, southeast of Beckoning Point and opposite of Hospital Point.
  14. The USS CALIFORNIA was berthed at F-3 and was heavily damaged in the initial (0758) attack. She was struck by two torpedoes on the port side while one large bomb near miss opened a hole on the port side. Another near miss caused minor damage on the starboard side. A third bomb passed through the upper deck and exploded on the second deck, causing extensive damage. She settled slowly and sank three days after the attack.
  15. The USS VESTAL was moored alongside the ARIZONA at Berth f-7, but got underway after explosion of ARIZONA’S forward magazines. She was beached on Aiea Shoal at Berth C-3 after having been struck by two 15-inch armor piercing projectile type bombs.
  16. The USS CURTIS was moored at X-Ray 22, and was struck by one heavy armor piercing bomb, which exploded amidships, causing extensive damage.  Also a Japanese plane crashed on her starboard crane. This could well have been the first of the Kamikazes.
  17. On the opposite side of Ford Island from the most extensive damage along Battleship Row, the USS UTAH and the USS RALEIGH were attacked. The UTAH at F-11 was probably struck by three aerial torpedoes on the port side and was sunk. She was subsequently rolled over to clear the channel, but was left on the bottom. There are still 58 of her crew entombed aboard her.
  18. The USS RALEIGH was moored at berth F-12 and was struck by aerial torpedo at about Frame 56 on the port side below the armor belt. She was also hit by one 15-inch projectile type bomb which passed through several decks and went ou the port side, exploding in the water causing hull damage. She did not sink.

Courtesy of WO1 Jack Hammett, USN (Ret) who was Stationed at US Naval Hospital, Pearl Harbor, T. H.

The Baby Blitz

Air raid casualties in Britain during the first five months of 1944 totaled 1,556 killed, with 2,916 seriously injured. During the five months of Operation Steinbock, the Luftwaffe lost about 330 bombers and crews. Thus, for every five people killed on the ground, the raiders lost one bomber and four trained crewmen killed or captured. On 12 June 1944, the first V-1 Flying Bomb attack was carried out on London. Approximately 10,000 V-1s were fired at London; 2,515 reached the city, killing about 6,184 people and injuring 17,981.

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