As I was reading the local paper this morning, this national story caught my eye. My father was on destroyers all through World War II. He is long gone now, but I recall him telling me how they had put a ship into commission and only six of them on board had ever been to sea before, three Chief Petty Officers, all of whom had been promoted fairly quickly, and three officers, the captain, the executive officer and my father who was a lieutenant, junior grade, at the time. The ship’s complement was probably 250-300 men. And they had eight weeks to train and be ready. I was awed by this story. It just seemed incredible. I remember asking my father how they did this without killing or maiming people. He sipped his drink and rather laconically replied: We didn’t.
The men of the Turner did not die in combat. It appears that they died because of an accident, a big and tragic one, but an accident nonetheless. However, let’s be very clear: They died in the service and defense of our nation.
Over 70 years later, we are still sorting out the location and handling of these sailors’ remains. Maybe other countries do this too. I don’t know, but we have a long history of trying hard to account for everyone. That says something about us, something very good and noble. May the men of the USS Turner rest in piece. They are surely heroes.