The Battleship USS West Virginia was struck with seven torpedoes and two bombs on 7 December, and sank into the mud. After the Japanese departed, survivors reported hearing a strange rhythmic bang from the ship. At first they thought it was just a bulkhead breaking, and with the harbor in chaos, no one paid any attention to it. That night however, the banging traveled far in the water. Men were still trapped in the West Virginia.
The next morning, an attempt was made to reach the survivors. But fuel oil covered everything and the cutting torches would cause an explosion. In any case, cutting through the pressurized hull would cause a blow out, flood the inside, and kill them. There was nothing left to do: they had to be left to die.
During the day it wasn’t noticeable, but at night, Pearl Harbor rang with the faint rhythmic banging from the forward hull of the sunken wreck. On those nights sailors refused to stand watch on the ships close to the West Virginia, knowing there was nothing they could do for the doomed souls trapped inside the hull. The banging continued until Christmas Eve. Then stopped.
In May 1942, the West Virginia was raised and the bodies of the sailors recovered. In Pump Room A-109, they discovered the bodies of Ronald Endicott, 18; Clifford Olds, 20; and Louis “Buddy” Costin, 21. They had flashlights, and batteries, food and water for weeks, but no fresh air. They had a clock that was still working and on the wall was a calendar. On the calendar were red X’s and the last one was over the twenty third – nineteen days after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
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