One man finds closure after long-lost WWII US submarine found off Japanese coast | CNN

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William Bower II feared he would by no means know the place his father’s closing resting place was, however he held on to hope for many years.

On Thursday, the Missouri retired aerospace engineer fought again tears as he was notified {that a} submarine wreck, found off the coast of Japan final 12 months, is what stays of the USS Albacore – one among 52 Navy submarines misplaced throughout World Struggle II, according to Naval History and Heritage Command, or NHHC.

In keeping with Navy data, the submarine is believed to have been struck by a mine on November 7, 1944, and sank off the coast of Hokkaido.

Days earlier than Christmas that very same 12 months, the Navy assumed the Albacore, together with a minimum of 85 sailors onboard, had been misplaced at sea, together with Bower’s father, Lt. William Walter Bower.

“My mom obtained a telegram from the Navy on the twenty first of December 1944 that my dad’s submarine was overdue in returning to port and he was lacking in motion,” Bower, 78, advised CNN.

He was born practically two months after the Albacore sank and solely is aware of his father by way of images and tales.

“He was an excellent engineer and favored the Navy and wished to serve his nation, as all the lads who had been misplaced within the submarine wished to do,” Bower stated.

Bower says he shaped bonds with different households who misplaced sailors on the Albacore. Like him, they’ve been haunted for many years not realizing the precise location the place their family members perished practically 78 years in the past.

“I do know that he was misplaced someplace off the coast of Japan,” stated an emotional Bower. “However to truly know the spot the place the remnants of the submarine are is far more significant. That to me was a significant step in having higher closure for his life.”

NHHC says their archeologists used underwater imagery offered by Dr. Tamaki Ura from the College of Tokyo to positively determine the wreckage of the Albacore this week.

Researchers say Japanese data guided Ura to the suspected shipwreck web site in Could 2022 the place he made the preliminary discovery of a wreck. Ura used a remotely operated automobile to seize pictures of the submarine’s stays, which confirmed distinctive modifications made to the Albacore simply earlier than its closing patrol. After months of research, NHHC researchers had been lastly capable of verify their suspicions.

“As the ultimate resting place for Sailors who gave their life in protection of our nation, we sincerely thank and congratulate Dr. Ura and his staff for his or her efforts in finding the wreck of Albacore,” wrote NHHC Director Samuel J. Cox, a retired US Navy rear admiral.

The wreck is taken into account a battle grave and guarded by US legislation, in line with an NHHC spokesperson.

In keeping with the Navy, the Albacore was commissioned on June 1, 1942. Throughout its comparatively quick service it earned 9 battle stars and 4 Presidential Unit Citations, awarded for extraordinary heroism, rapidly changing into probably the most profitable World Struggle II submarines utilized in fight.

To contact the households of the Albacore’s submariners, Navy historians enlisted a community of volunteer researchers working with the Pearl Harbor-based group On Everlasting Patrol. The non-profit says it has been capable of finding a minimum of one relative for 76 of the 85 sailors.

Charles Hinman, the group’s director of schooling, says he began On Everlasting Patrol in 2005 to place a face to every of the names of the lads misplaced whereas serving within the US Submarine Power since 1900. The group says it has been capable of memorialize roughly 93%, or over 4,500 misplaced submariners, with biographies and images.

“At any time when a misplaced submarine is discovered, we use our database to help the Navy and the host of the ceremony to contact the households of the crew,” Hinman advised CNN.

As his father’s solely youngster, Bower says he lastly has the peace that his mom and grandmother by no means knew.

“I do tear up as a result of I do know that is one thing that my father’s mom by no means totally recovered from,” stated Bower as he ready to toast his father’s reminiscence. “And you understand how grateful she would have been to have discovered this. And my mom sadly didn’t study as properly. So, I’m simply very grateful that somebody in his household was capable of study his closing resting place.”

Because the youngster of a service member lacking in motion till this week, Bower shared a message to navy households who proceed to attend for a similar peace he lastly discovered after a decades-long wait.

“By no means quit,” he stated. “All the time preserve the hope that their closing resting place might be discovered, and also you’ll have some sense of full closure and never simply have that sense of not realizing, perpetually.”

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