MANITOWOC, Wis. (NNS) -- Families of crew members who served aboard the World War II submarine USS Lagarto (SS 371) gathered here May 6 to honor the men whose submarine went missing six decades ago and was only recently located by divers.
Lagarto was last seen May 3, 1945, in the southern Gulf of Thailand while preparing to strike an enemy convoy. Japanese records later indicated that the minelayer Hatsutaka reported sinking a U.S. submarine on that date.
Last May, nearly 60 years to the day after Lagarto was lost, British diver Jamie MacLeod reported finding Lagarto sitting upright in about 225 feet of water in the southern part the Gulf of Thailand. MacLeod traveled to Wisconsin this weekend to attend the ceremony and to share his remarkable story with family members.
For Floyd Harrington of Lehi, Utah, the experience brought a much-needed sense of closure. Harrington was 10 years old when his brother, Motor Machinist's Mate 3rd Class George Clark Harrington, was killed aboard Lagarto. He carried a lot of uncertainty with him until he gathered in Manitowoc this weekend.
"It settled a lot of things," said Harrington. "We never knew what happened."
That was a sentiment echoed by many of the family members who attended the ceremony, hosted by the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc.
"For every single family here, this has been one of the most important events of their entire lives," said Nancy Kenney of Lake Leelanau, Mich., whose father, Signalman 1st Class William T. Mabin was lost on Lagarto.
Kenny, working with museum director Norma Bishop and her staff, have been successful in finding family members of 51 of the 86 men lost. More than 150 of the family members traveled to Manitowoc to attend the ceremony.
"It is moving to know that even six decades after their death, the men who served in Lagarto are still loved and still missed," said Pacific Fleet Submarine Force Commander Rear Adm. Jeffrey Cassias, who delivered the keynote address at the ceremony.
During the ceremony, there was a "tolling of the bell" for each of the 86 crew members, a gun salute, and a flag presentation to the family members.
The Navy plans to send the diving and salvage ship USS Salvor (ARS 50) to the site during exercise CARAT Thailand in June to attempt to confirm the discovery.
Lagarto was one of 28 submarines built in Manitowoc, Wis., and one of 52 submarines lost on patrol during World War II.
For related news, visit the Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/subpac/.