USARPAC, 8th TSC remember West Loch sacrifice

| May 27, 2016 | 0 Comments
The Army's 8th Theater Sustainment Command hosted the 72nd annual West Loch memorial ceremony onboard the Logistics Support Vessel-4, the Lt. Gen. William B. Bunker, for leaders from the Air Force, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard May 20 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. (Photo by Sgt. Jon Heinrich, 8th TSC Public Affairs/RELEASED)

The Army’s 8th TSC hosted the 72nd annual West Loch Disaster memorial ceremony onboard the LSV-4 Lt. Gen. William B. Bunker 

 

Story by Staff Sgt. John C Garver
Photos by Sgt. Jon Heinrich

8th Theater Sustainment Command Public Affairs

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM — Hawaii government officials, community representatives, and retired and active service members from all branches of the military gathered on the Army’s Logistic Support Vessel 4, the Lt. Gen. William B. Bunker, for the 72nd West Loch Disaster Remembrance Ceremony, here, May 20, hosted by U.S. Army-Pacific and the 8th Theater Sustainment Command.

On May 21, 1944, Army troops were loading ammunition, weapons and fuel onto vessels in preparation for Operation Forager, a World War II campaign in the Mariana Islands. Following an explosion, fire spread through the West Loch, a staging area for landing ships at Pearl Harbor.

In the next 24 hours, six ships sank, 163 personnel died and 396 personnel were injured in what was the second largest tragedy of Pearl Harbor during the war. Nearly one-third of the casualties were from the Army’s segregated African-American 29th Chemical Decontamination Company.

The youngest service member from the Army and Coast Guard lay a wreathe in the water to honor the 72nd annual West Loch memorial ceremony from onboard the Army's 8th Theater Sustainment Command Logistics Support Vessel-4, the Lt. Gen. William B. Bunker, May 20 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. (Photo by Sgt. Jon Heinrich, 8th TSC Public Affairs/RELEASED)

The youngest service members from the Army and Coast Guard place a wreath in the water.

Despite the devastation, the critical mission was only delayed one day, demonstrating the resolve and courage of the Sailors, Marines and Soldiers involved.

During the remembrance, LSV-4 Bunker transported distinguished guests across Pearl Harbor from Bishop Point to West Loch, where they conducted the ceremony.

“Today, here, we gather to reflect on the loss of those American patriots,” said Navy Capt. Mark Manfredi, chief of staff, Navy Region Hawaii. “This commemoration and floral tribute is a testimony of our commitment to always remember the sacrifice during the war in the Pacific, and to especially honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of freedom.

“Though the incident could have caused a significant delay in the upcoming invasion of Saipan, those who served at West Loch and Pearl Harbor showed remarkable resilience,” Manfredi said.

For the ceremony, as a sign of respect and remembrance, the youngest service members from active duty units in Hawaii placed a wreath in the same sacred waters where the individuals lost their lives.

“When the ceremony started – hearing about what happened and then laying the wreath – it is a moment I will not forget,” said Pvt. Monique Engman, 545th Transportation Co., 8th TSC, and one of five service members who placed the wreath.

“Those of us in uniform understand and accept the risks associated with our profession,” Manfredi said, “risks that are compounded infinitely in time of war, when vigilance and readiness are our best friends, and chaos and confusion are always close at hand.”

The LSV remembrance was followed by another West Loch remembrance ceremony with military honors at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl Crater.

The youngest service member from the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard lay a wreathe in the water to honor the 72nd annual West Loch memorial ceremony from onboard the Army's 8th Theater Sustainment Command Logistics Support Vessel-4, the Lt. Gen. William B. Bunker, May 20 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. (Photo by Sgt. Jon Heinrich, 8th TSC Public Affairs/RELEASED)

The youngest service members salute the fallen from the ramp of LSV-4.

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Category: News, Observances

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