U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Graduates who died during World War II
As with other military organizations, deaths during war are not all directly caused by military actions engaging the enemy. Among the 44 graduates from Kings Point who died in WW II, there were 27 men who were killed in direct enemy action from aerial and submarine torpedo attacks, bombing and kamikaze raids; ten other graduates died supporting military operations in convoy or in port collisions, storms, cargo operations, travel to assignments and lack of adequate medical treatment. Seven graduates died in non-combat events.
The enemy was not the only peril faced by merchant ships at war. The supply line had to be maintained at all costs, and ships put to sea in all weather and sailed perilously close to each other in tight packed convoys day and night. Ships were prohibited from showing navigation lights and compelled to zigzag, changing course as a group in the dark of night, often in heavy seas. Frequent collisions were the inevitable result. Two graduates, Charles Dengler and James Maloney died in collisions. Ensign Anido died in the North Pacific his ship sunk in the violent storm called ‘Halsey’s Typhoon’.
Ships are dangerous places for the uninitiated in the best of times, and in the rush to man the burgeoning fleet, training was accelerated to a breakneck pace. Four graduates died of shipboard accidents while serving the war effort. Harry Grant, 3rd Mate was crushed in cargo operations in New Guinea. Walter Kannberg, 3rd Assistant Engineer, was one of over 300 people who died in Port Chicago, CA when explosions destroyed his ship and the Port and Kenneth Waters, 3rd Mate was crushed in cargo operations in Iran. Ensign Lloyd Strom died with 350 other crew in New Guinea when the ammunition ship on which he served exploded. Each of these men served and died in the line of duty.
Two graduates, Ensign A. Dell’Aquila and 2nd Mate N. K. Stevens died in aircraft accidents, Dell’Aquila died in the crash of an Army Air Corps C-54 Transport which crashed on takeoff from New Guinea in route to the USA. Niles Stevens died in a crash rejoining his ship in North Africa.
Life goes on, even in war, and death is an inevitable part of life. Graduate Ralph Nemitz, a member of the Tin Fish Club, was serving as a deck instructor when he died in a sailing accident in Louisiana. Graduates Arthur Forsyth and Edward Sherman apparently commandeered a taxi in Norfolk, VA, accidently drove the taxi into a body of water and drowned. They had served honorably on previous ships in war operations and were facing another voyage on an ammunition ship at the time of their deaths. Graduate Richard Victorino who served in the war zone died in California in November 1945 of an accidental gunshot wound. Drew Allen, a presumed graduate, died in the USA of illnesses contracted while on duty on board ship. Their names are inscribed on the Monument at Kings Point.
Three graduates serving as Naval Officers died of self-inflicted wounds: Lt. (jg) J. R. Lawrence, Ensign A. V. Graziano, and Ensign E. Lemerise. Lawrence and Graziano were awarded medals and honors for their military service. It is not clear as to what medals Lemerise would have earned as a Cadet-Midshipman. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) led to many suicides during WW II, even among high ranking Naval Officers. In recent times in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, suicides among combat troops exceeded deaths during combat. The names of all three men are included on the Monument at Kings Point.
While the names of two graduates, Semon Teague ’43 and James McCarthy ’44, are on the Monument, we do not include them in this book as Teague died in 1997 and McCarthy died in 1946. Their stories are contained in the blog.
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