Daryl Weathers remembers trying to pull men from the sea off Alaska's Aleutian Islands after a US Navy destroyer hit a mine left by the Japanese following the only World War II battle fought on North American soil. The explosion, which ripped the stern off the USS Abner Read, also covered many of the men in oil, which prevented some from being rescued. "They were so slippery, you couldn't get ahold of them," the 94-year-old Weathers said this week from his home in Los Angeles. The remaining 250 crew members made the ship watertight, and it limped back to the West Coast for repairs. Only one body among the 71 men killed was recovered. Now, nearly 75 years later, scientists using multi-beam sonar have discovered the 75-foot stern, 290 feet below the Bering Sea, the AP reports.
The scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the University of Delaware found it during a research mission last month. "To hit success is obviously extremely joyous for everybody. There's lots of cheering ... it's like scoring a touchdown," says Andrew Pietruszka, an underwater archaeologist with Scripps. The euphoria ended with the realization that it was the final resting place for US service members. Those aboard the research vessel held a wreath-laying ceremony to honor the dead. There are no plans to raise the stern, which lies on the seafloor near Kiska Island along with other remnants of the Battle of Attu, which ended May 30, 1943, with nearly 2,500 Japanese and 550 Americans dead.
(Read more World War II