The Pentagon is launching an investigation to solve a World War II mystery. Over 130 U.S. sailors were listed as missing after the USS Turner disaster, when the ship sank after suffering internal explosion. It is now believed that the bodies of the sailors were recovered and buried as unknowns in a New York cemetery. WWII researcher Ted Darcy found papers indicating that at least four of these missing sailors were buried in a Long Island military cemetery, and he believes other missing sailors could be buried alongside these four men.
The USS Turner sank off the coast of Sandy Hook, New Jersey, after a series of internal explosions on Jan. 3, 1944; killing dozens of sailors. The cause of the initial blast is still unknown to this day. Only half of the 300 men on board survived, and the remaining sailors were listed as either deceased or missing.
The Associated Press reported on Darcy’s findings in November, bringing national attention to the issue. The Pentagon office responsible for recovering and identifying the nation’s fallen service members withheld comment on the allegations, saying that the records that could confirm or deny Darcy’s claims were missing.
The Pentagon’s Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency said that they are now “taking the steps to send out inquiries and conduct archival research” in an attempt to locate the files associated with the Turner unknowns buried in a cemetery in Farmingdale, Long Island.
Margaret Duffy Sickles was only five years old when her brother perished in the disaster. She was a driving force in the motion to have the Pentagon test the remains of those buried as unknowns on Long Island to determine if they were the men that perished in the USS Turner disaster. She received support from New York Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
“I will work with the families to cut through red tape and ensure that the Department of Defense’s POW/MIA Accounting Agency does everything it can to try to properly identify these brave Americans,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.
Todd S. Livick Sr., a the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency spokesman, said that the agency’s researchers have spent years searching for files pertaining to the cemetery’s burials of unknowns, but so far they’ve not been located. The pentagon is unwilling to test the remains for DNA evidence, despite advances in identifying individuals based on DNA and other technology.