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Historic photo of African American sailors marching on the pier at Port Chicago.
Port Chicago Sailors

POCH 2.080

 

320 Americans Killed in WWII Naval Magazine Accident

On the evening of July 17, 1944, residents in the San Francisco east bay area were jolted awake by a massive explosion that cracked windows and lit up the night sky. At Port Chicago Naval Magazine, 320 men were instantly killed when two ships being loaded with ammunition for the Pacific theater troops blew up. It was WWII's worst home front disaster.

Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial preserves the site of the deadliest home front disaster of World War II,honoring those who lost their lives or were affected by the munitions explosion on July 17, 1944. The disaster and its aftermath illuminated the issues of segregation and racial inequality in the military, and today the memorial serves as a spring board for exploring social justice in our society.
 
The munitions explosion at Port Chicago Naval Magazine on July 17, 1944, was the largest stateside disaster of World War II. The blast registered 3.4 on the Richter scale,was felt more than 450 miles away and resulted in 320 fatalities and approximately 400 injured. The memorial is located at the site of the explosion, the final resting place for the un-recovered casualties.

Following the explosion, as before, surviving sailors received unequal treatment based on their race. Many African American sailors refused to return to work soon after the explosion and 50 were convicted of mutiny in the largest naval trial of its kind in US history. These convictions still stand today despite efforts to overturn them.

The Port Chicago explosion, the mutiny trial, and the response of African-American communities to these events exposed the shameful injustices of racism in the military.These events were a catalyst for the Navy, the armed services, and ultimately, the nation to weigh the costs of racial segregation. The memorial serves as a reminder of the ongoing struggles for equality and social justice today.

Port Chicago Naval Magazine was the largest ammunition transshipment facility on the West Coast and was essential to the success of the war effort in the Pacific Theater;much of the ammunition and bombs used by US forces in the Pacific passed through the hands of sailors at Port Chicago. This transshipment facility continues to operate today under the US Army.

 

Remembering the Fallen

Below, is a list of those who were killed in the Port Chicago explosion.

 
S2c James C. Akins
CM3c Clarence Allen, Jr.
Lt. (jg) Maxie L. Anderson *
S2c Leslie K. Asahe
S2c Isaiah Ash, Jr.
S1c David Bacon, Sr.
S2c Henry W. Bailey *
CM3c Leonard Baker
S2c David Barnes, Jr.
S2c Joseph Battle
S2c Raphel O. Beasom
S2c Silas Bell
Lt. Thomas L. Blackman
S2c David E. Blackwell
S2c Thimon Blaylock
S1c Johnnie C. Borders
CM1c James H. Born *
S2c L.T. Bowden *
S2c Charles L. Boyce
S2c Alvin Brewer, Jr.
S2c James Bridges
S1c Walter L. Brooks, Jr.
F1c Johnnie L. Broome
S1c Ernest L. Burnett
S1c Wilbert Calvin
S2c Lawrence L. Carlin
S2c Robert A. Carter
Lt.(jg) John B. Christenbury*
S2c Eddie L. Clark
S1c Eugene Coffee, Jr. *
F1c Bill Coleman
S2c Enos Coley *
S2c Arthur A. Connor
S2c Frank Cooley
S2c Norman H. Craig
S2c Eddie L. Cross
S2c Jessie V. Crimp
S1c Herman L. Curtis
S2c Horace Daniel, Sr.
S2c Huby Dansby
S2c Floyd M. Davis
S2c Henry J. Davis
S2c Willie Davis
S2c James L. Devaughn
S2c Nathaniel Dixson
S2c Rayfield D. Doyle
S2c Herman Dunbar
S2c Arthur L. Ebenezer
F2c Dunton I. Edwards
S1c Herbert L. Edwards
S2c Junice C. Ervin
S2c Luther Eusery
S2c Ananias Evans, Sr.
S2c Horace Evans
S2c John H. Evans
S2c William L. Evans
S2c John B. Felisbret
S2c Robert L. Ferguson
CM3c Clarence S. Fields
S2C Jessie Finney
S2c Matthew Forkner, Jr.
S1c Joseph R. Francis
S2c Ford S. Franklin, Jr.
S2c Artie J. Frazier
CM1c Elmer B. Froid
S1c Gerard Gabriel *
S2c Bennie L. Gaines
S2c Elgar Gant
S1c(CH) John S. Gibson
S2c Jethero Gilbert
S1c Samuel Glenn, Jr.
S1c Lewis D. Goudblock
S2c Harry L. Graham
S1c William H. Green
S2c Ross B. Grinage
S2c A.D. Hamilton
S2c Ernest E. Hamilton
S2c Emaral Hamm
S2c George R. Hammond
S2c John W. Hannan, Jr.
S2c Joe H. Hardaway
S2c John L. Harding
S2c B.C. Harris
S2c Roscoe A. Harris
S2c Phillip H. Harrison *
S2c Clifford Harvey, Jr.
S1c George W. Hayes
S2c D.C. Haywood
S1c Douglas L. Hector
S1c David L. Higginbotham
S1c Bobie R. Higgs
S1c Cluster Hill *
S2c Joseph Hills
S2c Charles W. Hite
S2c(SO) Rudolph V. Holden
S2c Stanford Holley
MoMM3c(T) Edred L. Holmes
S2c Ernest M. Howard
S2c Frank J. Howard
S2c Earl H. Hudson *
S2c Glen Hughes *
S2c Leroy Hughes *
S2c Theodore L. Hughes

S2c William Humphrey, Jr.
S2c Ross D. Hunt *
S2c Wave Hunt
S2c Rudolph W. Hunter
CM3c(T) Leroy Ingram
S1c D.C. Jackson
S2c James Jackson
CM2c James E.M. Jackson
S1c Levi R. Jackson *
S2c Paul E. Jackson
S2c Robert A. Jackson, Jr.
CM3c Samuel Jackson, Jr.
S1c Daniel L. Jamison
S1c Willie Jennings *
S2c Clarence Johnson *
S2c Earl T. Johnson
S1c Gabe Johnson *
S1c Harold Johnson
S2c Henry L. Johnson
Lt. (jg) James B. Johnson *
S1c Milton F. Johnson *
S1c Daniel L. Jones
S1c Ivery L. Jones
S1c Henry Joseph, Jr.
S1c Samuel Kearney
S1c(SC)(B) Calvin King
S2c Clifton King
S2c Verne Land
S1c Sidney J. LaPorte, Jr.
S1c Willie Law, Jr. *
S2c Cleo Lawson
S2c Caludius W. Leslie
S2c(SO) Aaron A. Lewis
S2c T.C. Lewis
S2c Lemuel M. Long *
S2c Robert Lyons
S2c Beattie J. Makins
S1c(CM) Rossell E. Martin
S2c(CM) Alonmo Martin
S1c Daniel Massie
S1c Lawrence Mathews, Jr.*
S2c Charles A. Mayfield *
S1c Mitchell McClam
CCM(T) Clarence K. McFarland *
S1c Calvin Milton
S2c Willis Mettles *
S1c Ernest C. Miller
MoMM3c Ira Miller, Jr.
S2c Otis K. Miller *
S2c Marshall Moore, Sr.
CM2c Thomas Moore
S2c William P. Moore
Ens. Gilbert Mordoh
S2c Eddie L. Neal
S1c James H. Nixon
S2c William H. Otky, Sr.
S2c Auguster Packer
S1c(SC) William F. Paschal
S2c Robert F. Peete
S2c Lester L. Perry
S2c Joe H. Person *
S2c Alfred Phillips
CM3c Charles Pickett
S2c Houston Porter
S2c McCoy Porter
S2c David W. Potts
SM3c(T) Samuel H. Powell
CM2c Joe C. Preuitt
S2c Arthur Reid, Jr.
CM3c James E. Rhodes
S2c Clyde F. Richardson
S2c James A. Roberts
S1c Mango Roberts
MoMM3c Alphonse Robinson
S2c Fred Robinson, Jr.
S1c Eugene J. Rogers
S2c Robert Sanders *
S2c Wesley Saunders
Lt. Roland Schindler *
CM3c Carl C. Scott
Lt. Vernon C. Shaner
S1c Joseph J. Sheckles
S2c Willie Sims *
S1c Isaac E. Smith *
S1c James P. Smith
S1c Ellis Taylor
S2c Joseph M. Tolson
MA2c Maxie D. Towles
S1c(CM) Mervin L. Van Dunk
S1c Issiah Wade
S2c Charles Walker, Jr.
S2c Walter L. Walker, Jr. *
S2c Woodrow L. Walker
CM2c(T) William C. Warren*
S2c James L. Washington *
S2c Woodrow Washington, Jr.
CM3c Daniel West
Lt. (jg) Raymond R. White *
S1c Joseph B. White
S2c Arthur Whitmore
S2c Mitchell A. Williams *

S2c Maryland E. Wilson
GM3c Oliver Wilson
S2c Samuel D. Wilson

Lt. Harold A. Wood *
S2c James E. Woods *
S2c Walter E. Wright

S2c Charles E. Wyatt
 
S1c Wayland E. Causey
S1c Rudy J. Cebella
S1c Robert E. Chase
S2c Claude L. Chastain
SM3c John J. Gee
Lt. (jg) Ralph B. Hartmann
S1c Clarence R. Hollandsworth
S1c Kenneth H. Muirhead
S1c Jesse W. Mulligan
S1c Lloyd J. Quick
S1c Martin J. Setzer
S1c George H. Singer
S1c Listern L. Small
 
Elmer A. Andraschko, Cook
Albert A. Arsenian, Seaman
William C. Benhart, Oiler
Martin M. Cacic, Seaman
Ray E. Davis, Wiper
Donald L. Dennon, Wiper
Thomas E. Dorsey, Seaman
George H. Falk, Bos’n
Marcus J. Franklin, Engr.
Alfred D. Gilbert, Engr.
James R. Gilstrap, Seaman
Joseph D. Grange, Jr, Engr.
Fred Hayes, Seaman

Delbert R. Hutchinson, Fireman
Peter C. Jepsen, Ch. Engr.
Charles A. Johnson, Utilityman
Clifford R. Johnson, Utilityman
Ralph A. Lantz, Seaman
John A. Louis, Engr.
Frank C. Malizia, Carpenter
Edward Maniago, Messman
Harry E. Nathan, Seaman
Jesse Porter, Sr., Ch. Cook
Richard D. Roberson, Seaman
Aaron C. Sangster, Jr., Seaman
Ellsworth M. Shaw, Oiler
Howard A. Smith, 1st Mate
Andrew Suchan, Fireman
Robert F. Townsend, 2nd Mate
Harding E. White, Messman
George H. Witt, Utilityman
 
GM3c Jack L. Albin
GM2c Delbert P. Bergstrom
S1c(RM) Jack P. Bowman
GM3c John G. Hall
S1c George D. Hovland
S1c Andy Morrow
GM2c William H. Mulryan
S1c Henry J. Myers
S1c Woodrow A. Riiff
S1c Jacob D. Risenhoover
S1c William R. Robinson
S1c Charles H. Rondell
S1c Jay Rose, Jr.
S1c Otis K. Ross
S1c Woodrow W. Saint
S1c Arnold T. Sanders
S1c Harold S. Sano
 
Robert D. Bailey, Utilityman
Robert E. Bartlett, Messman
John D. Bell, Asst. Purser
Frederick E. Bentley, Seaman
Donald H. Cheney, Elect.
Hugh E. Crawford, Maint. Man
Floyd F. Crist, Seaman
Albert C. Dinde, Messman
Wallace M. Durland, Seaman
Kenneth J. Eulrick, Seaman
Burke E. Falor, Utilityman
Eugene W. Garrett, FiremanRobert K. Henricksen, Seaman
Elis Henriksen, Engr. *
Johannes H. Justesen, Steward
Walter F. Kannberg, Engr.
Robert E. Keim, 2nd Mate
Joseph B. Koeninger, Seaman
Karl L. Mallery, Engr.
Lloyd K. McDaniel, Seaman
Kenneth M. Moen, 3rd Mate
Robert S. Morill, Oiler
Isadore E. Narinsky, Seaman
Roy L. Nelson, Carpenter
David R. Parsons, 3rd Mate
Mike Pearson, Oiler
Ellis B. Pinson, Engr.
Richard V. Potter, Fireman
Virgil R. Sandberg, Engr.
Albert R. Scott, Ch. Mate
Lester S. Skance, Seaman
Howard W. Sullivan, Seaman
Robert J. Sullivan, Master
Glen E. Thompson, Engr. *
Louis J. Widner, Messman *
John A. Williams, Ch. Engr.
 
Lawrence C. Bustrack, Macco Co. Office Manager *
Gundar Halverson, Macco Co. Timekeeper *
Raymond V. Hunnicutt, Brakeman Navy Employee
Thomas D. Hunt, Macco Co. Project Engr. *
Harry A. Middleton, Engineman Navy Employee
Fred Zanarini, Chauffeur Navy Employee *
 
Pvt. Elwin A. Blanke, Marine Corps *
BM1c Peter G. Broda, Coast Guard
MM1c William G. Degryce, Coast Guard
McMM3c Edward J. Portz, Coast Guard *
S1c Charles H. Riley, Coast Guard
S2c James C. Sullivan, Coast Guard *

Last updated: February 19, 2019

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