Remembering the 'Port Chicago Disaster'

Seventy-three years ago, a chain-reaction explosion at Port Chicago in California killed 320 people. It happened when a spark ignited munitions being loaded onto a ship bound for the front lines of World War I. Now, there's a push led by a Virginia man to

A Virginia man is doing all that he can to make sure hundreds of servicemen killed during an accident 73 years ago are never forgotten.

The Port Chicago disaster occurred July 17, 2017 in the San Francisco Bay Area. The munitions explosion claimed the lives of 320 people, most of whom were black sailors. The remains of only 51 people were identified.

Veteran Ted Darcy, of the WFI Research Group, lives in Orange County, Virginia. According to his research, 24 people killed were from Virginia, D.C. and Maryland.

He has made it his goal to identify unidentified, buried World War II service members across the globe. Darcy wants to bring families closure and make sure those who served their country receive the respect they deserve.

"It's very hard to remember someone who doesn't have a name and these guys were put into the ground as unknowns," he said.

According to Darcy, the remains of the unidentified victims of Port Chicago are placed in graves at Golden Gate Cemetery as "unknowns". He said he would like to change that.

"There are a lot of residents from this area that are missing and could be accounted for if the government decides to bury them as a group rather than individual unknowns," Darcy said.

Specifically, Darcy plans to petition the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) to gather the remains into a single site that would then include a single monument with the names of all the unknowns.

"Like they did at Arlington National Cemetery with the USS Serpens," he added.

A memorial does exist near the Port Chicago site, but Darcy said he would like to see a monument that brings more attention to the tragedy's unknowns.

WUSA9 reached out to the DPAA Monday evening to see if it would consider such an act. Once we get a response, we will make sure to update you.

In the meantime, Darcy said he plans to keeps searching through records and data to help identify as many unknown World War II service members as possible.

"There's 9,000 unknowns buried out there from World War II," he said. "When we figure them out, I'll stop."

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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