West Loch Disaster – May 21, 1944

Posted on May 19, 2014

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Honoring and remembering those who sacrificed their lives for a Secret WWII maritime mission. Today’s lantern  ceremony hopes to bring more attention to the fallen heroes who gave their lives. 

On Sunday May 21, 1944 an undetermined amount of  brave soldiers, Navy and Maritime workers died in what had been classified as a top secret disaster sinking 6 LST Naval Ships and killing several hundreds of Military personnel. As a small group gathered  for a Floating Lantern memorial at the Hawaii State Rotunda, one thing became apparent.

Retired Major Michele Hauser and Captain Figuerres honor those who lost their lives in 1944 West Loch Disaster at a Floating Lantern Ceremony in Honolulu, photo by Tina Quizon

Retired Major Michele Hauser and Captain Figuerres honor those who lost their lives in 1944 West Loch Disaster at a Floating Lantern Ceremony in Honolulu, photo by Tina Quizon


This was a part of Pearl Harbor and our the U.S. Military History that has not been on the forefront of our history books or memories. Days following the tragedy in 1944, the disaster was not to be discussed by the survivor’s and the media, except for a brief statement that “some loss of life, a number of injuries and resulted in the destruction of several small vessels”. The history of the event was not made public until it was declassified in 1960. Yet, the disaster and the service members who gave there lives often goes unspoken about in history books and by the community.  Most memorable was the story of the loss of service members from the 29th Chemical Decontamination Unit. This year on the 70th anniversary a memorial is to be held on Wednesday May 21, 2014 at 3 PM. There will be a wreath laying ceremony at the Punchbowl Cemetery of the Pacific to honor the lives lost, many service members whose remains lay in unknown graves. We will be posting more about the history of the 1944 West Loch Disaster and memorial events, so please check back.

West Loch Disaster - May 21, 1944 the WW II Maritime explosion sinking of 6 LST ships was kept top secret until 1960.

West Loch Disaster – May 21, 1944 the WW II Maritime explosion sinking of 6 LST ships was kept top secret until 1960. Most memorable was the loss the service members of the 29th Chemical Decontamination Unit. On the 70th anniversary this Wednesday May 21, 2014 there will be a wreath laying ceremony at the Punchbowl Cemetery of the Pacific to honor the lives lost.

Floating Lantern made to honor the fallen heroes of the 29th Chemical Decontamination Unit - West Loch disaster  on May 21, 1944, photo by Tina Quizon

Floating Lantern made to honor the fallen heroes of the 29th Chemical Decontamination Unit – West Loch disaster on May 21, 1944, photo by Tina Quizon

see more of the Floating Lantern event photos here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.756631171025829.1073741840.112008078821478&type=1

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