DOD Jumps Into Mystery of Vanished WWII Sailors

More than 130 deemed 'missing' after ship explosion could be in Long Island cemetery
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 13, 2017 11:21 AM CST
DOD Jumps Into Mystery of Vanished WWII Sailors
This undated file photo provided by the US Navy shows the USS Turner on the East River in New York City near the Williamsburg Bridge.   (US Navy via AP, File)

Could we be one step closer to finding more than 130 US sailors who went missing after a World War II catastrophe? More than 70 years after the USS Turner exploded and sank near New York Harbor—leaving about half of the 300 or so men aboard alive, the other half killed or labeled missing—the Pentagon says it's picking up a probe started by a researcher who says they may be interred at a Long Island cemetery, the AP reports. Ted Darcy has already found records showing four of the missing were buried as "unknowns" at the Farmingdale site, and the DOD is trying to track down records showing how many other Turner sailors, if any, are also buried there, per an official in charge of identifying service members who've died in war. The ship went down near Sandy Hook, NJ, on Jan. 3, 1944, after an explosion; although not definitive, the cause may be tied to munitions on the ship's lower level.

The investigation has been hampered by the MIA records—a Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency rep says they've searched for this paperwork, including dental records, for years—and identifying any remains after so much time has passed will be difficult, though not out of the realm of possibility. Robert Mowry, one of the tragedy's survivors who's now 91 and living in Wilmerding, Pa., says he doesn't know for sure what happened to the missing sailors—he tells Trib Total Media he leaped into the water after the blast "shoes, dungarees, and all" and was rescued by the Coast Guard—though he doesn't think the bodies were ever found. But Darcy is pushing everyone involved to stay on the case. "[The sailors] deserve to be buried properly and the families deserve the closure," he tells the AP. (A Korean war vet's remains were returned to his family 65 years after he disappeared.)

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