by Gene Salecker
Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2014. Pp. xviii, 278.
Illus., maps., diagr., chron., notes, index. $34.95. ISBN: 0806144769
A Forgotten Tragedy of World War II
This is a
frequently gripping account of one of the most devastating yet least reported accidents to American forces in the Second World War, the explosion of several ammunition-laden LSTs in Pearl Harbor that killed over 150 servicemen and wounded nearly 400 more.
author of several books on the Pacific War
and other events,
opens with several short chapters to set the stage for the West Loch disaster, covering preparations of the invasion of the Marianas and a look at the LST.
focuses tightly on May 20-22, 1944,
notably so for the
21st: 15 of his 24 chapters deal with that
date, often literally on a minute-by-minute basis.
back and forth among several ships or land installations, to recount the experiences of quite a number of sailors, marines, and coastguardsmen as the disaster unfolded.
He follows these with a discussion of the
the heroic death of Navy diver Owen Hammerberg, the last man awarded a Medal of Honor for non-combat heroism,
court of inquiry, which led to some important changes in ammunition handling procedures.
. Salecker concludes with a discussion of the
imposition of censorship,
a wartime necessity, which, although lifted many years ago, remains the principal reason the
incident is still barely known, despite the passage of 70 years.
A gripping tale, The Second Pearl Harbor will prove rewarding for anyone interested in the Pacific War or military history in general.
The Second Pearl Harbor is also available in several e-book editions