Carroll's guest is Mr. Raymond "Ray" Emory, retired, U.S. Navy, and a survivor of Pearl Harbor. He talks about the little known "West Loch Disaster", where more than 130 African Americans lost their lives in an ammunition explosion in 1944.
On May 21, 2014, the military commemorated the incident during a ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl. Link here to pictures, and an informative speech by Commander Tim Wilke, Commanding Officer, Afloat Training Group MIDPAC. It should be noted, the disaster was not talked about, and little was known about it until just recently. Five years ago the military started telling the story and has been commemorating the event on its anniversary date ever since. If you missed it this year, you may want to put it on your calendar for May 21, next year.
Mr. Emory tells us about his quest for finding, identifying and recognizing World War II casualties, and finding a lost cemetery in Halawa where casualties of the attack on Pearl Harbor were initially buried before being moved to Punchbowl. Mr. Emory notes that, during his research, he learned many grave markers do not contain correct names and information. He is trying to sort it out, update records and computerize the information. He is also documenting the names of those lost in the West Loch Disaster, and a project is underway to build a memorial, including names of those lost.
On December 7, 1941, at the age of 21, Mr. Emory was on the U.S.S. Honolulu when Pearl Harbor was attacked. He manned a machine gun during the attack and tells us his story of battle and the many heroes of that day. He has now made it his mission to identify the many "unknown soldiers" buried here in Hawaii and elsewhere.
To make a tax-deductible donation to help build the West Loch Memorial, contact Delores Guttman at the African American Diversity Cultural Center Hawaii. Their phone number 808-597-1341.
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