One of the most remembered attacks in World War II, was our first real home land breach of security. Up until 9-11, the Pearl Harbor attack of 1941 by the Japanese, on US shores was the most horrifying and surreal occurrences in our US history. But there was a second attack, at Pearl Harbor, in 1944, with a blackout press order. It’s death count is not included in the Pearl Harbor death count, and it’s very existence you will not find on the timelines in history books or anywhere, for the events of Pearl Harbor or WWII in general.
For that reason alone, the events in May of 1944 at West Loch, Hawaii, now known as the West Loch Disaster, are not highly publicized, and therefore relatively untouched for paranormal investigations. This entire ‘attack’ was simply swept under the carpet until later in 2009 when researchers uncovered information. 2009 and 2012 were the first official memorials of the 163 men that died, and the nearly 400 injured, that were forced to stay quiet, as this entire event was classified Top Secret. Conveniently in this decade, when all of the witnesses and bystanders are deceased, facts are allowed to surface… right from the ocean floor.
Everyone is very aware of the surprise attack by the Japanese in Pearl Harbor. Most memorialized are the aerial attacks on Battleship Row, meant to disable our Naval force. By the time it was all said and done, more than 2,400 Americans were dead, 21 ships* had either been sunk or damaged, and more than 188 U.S. aircraft destroyed. But it wasn’t just an aerial attack. Before the attack, 5 Japanese midget subs, only 2 man crews on each, armed with 80 lb torpedos, had breached Hawaii and were lying in wait. Here’s the clincher. Only four were accounted for, after the attack.
Fast forward to May, 1944… things have calmed down in Hawaii, for sure. The rest of the world in complete chaos, it was quite a distraction. But of course, this is a Naval base, and this is wartime. Officially and publicly, in May of 1941, our Navy was preparing to invade the Marianas. West Loch was quite congested and “unusually crowded with various vessels as it was being used as a staging area for the upcoming Operation Forager. Twenty-nine Landing Ships, Tank (LSTs) were tied up, beam to beam, at six Tare piers. Many of the LSTs, in addition to carrying their own complement of munitions and fuel, were also fully loaded with the munitions, fuel, vehicles, equipment, and other general stores required by the 2nd and 4th Marine Divisions for the invasion of the Marianas, that was to begin in mid-June. To aid quick deployment once ashore, high-octane gasoline was stored in barrels on deck…Within minutes, 200 men had been blown into the water. Eleven wooden buildings on the shore were destroyed and vehicles blown on their side. In all, 20 buildings were damaged. (citing Wikipedia, please be aware the Wikipedia does have some discrepancies, but overall, factual).
After a hasty investigation, it was ruled that an accident occurred while unloading mortar rounds, when a wayward spark from welding, or possibly a cigarette ignited gas fumes, therefore causing the explosion. The original theory by the military was a possible submarine attack…BUT WAS RULED UNLIKELY BECAUSE OF THE DEPTHS OF WEST LOCH, AND THE ANTI SUBMARINE NETS IN PLACE. Interesting.
Points of interest:
- Within 24 hours, a press black out was issued. No personnel were allowed to even write home about it. No talking to the press or anyone for that matter.
- It was immediately classified as Top Secret.
- They found the 5th midget sub in the wreckage of West Loch, without torpedos.
- The Japanese midget subs are equipped with submarine net cutters on the bow.
- Researchers found evidence that one of the ships in West Loch suffered extensive underwater damage.
- In the confusion, the army personnel on board weren’t even counted in the dead count.
- Oh yeah, the motive for sweeping it all under the rug? We didn’t want the Japanese to know…….. but why? We called it a maritime accident. We didn’t want the rest of America to know. But why? Possible breach of homeland security that would breed panic? OH WAIT! It was weeks before an invasion of Manila! That was Top Secret too, and was something that was argued about for months before by FDR and his cabinet.
- A large number of the deceased were not recovered, not recorded, buried in “unknown” graves (LATER commemorated as Unknown in memory of West Loch), and died without honor or recognition.
Keep in mind, of course, that these men were not deployed, and many were on shore leave because of extensive exercises leading up to Operation Forager, in the Marianas. Their lives were cut short drastically and in a very violent and unexpected way. And the lack of recognition means unfinished business. From a paranormal standpoint, all of this sets up the perfect storm for paranormal. From a psychic standpoint, would love to read the situation and see what the location can tell me about what really happened. From an empathic point of view, we need to find a way to close the book with dignity and honor for deceased and their families. They deserve to be recognized by the military and recognized in our history books. Bringing some closure to this will allow many of the spirits that are ‘still on duty, even now’, to move on and cross over.