Service to honor anniversary Tues.
The first American merchant ship to be attacked by the Japanese during World War II broke apart on the sea stacks of Crescent City 70 years ago.
Many Del Norters already know the story of the S.S. Emidio, which was attacked 200 miles north of San Francisco by a Japanese submarine.
A ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of this attack will be held at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday in Beachfront Park, next to a section of the S.S. Emidio's hull, which marks where the ship's bow landed in the harbor.
"It's not really too well known that the Japanese had submarines
working on the coast in the weeks immediately following Pearl Harbor,"
said Guy Towers, president of the St. George Reef Lighthouse
Preservation Society, which is hosting the event.
The history of the ship will be shared with presentations by
representatives of the Merchant Marine Association, the city, veterans
groups and members of the lighthouse society.
The S.S. Emidio was a general petroleum tanker. It was tracked by a
Japanese submarine on Dec. 20, 1941. After the ship spotted the
submarine, it tried to maneuver out of harm's way, but the sub was too
swift. Five of the sub's six 5 1/2-inch shells hit the target, damaging
several lifeboats, taking out the tanker's radio and knocking three
The radioman was able to send a distresss call before the radio was
damaged, and a U.S. Navy patrol bomber arrived, sending the sub below
The captain and most of the crew abandoned ship and started searching
for the overboard men.
When the bomber disappeared, the sub resurfaced and shot a torpedo at
the tanker, drowning two of the 11 men still on board. The two
lifeboats recovered the nine others.
In all, five men died in the attack.
The Emidio did not sink, but drifted north to Crescent City, where it
garnered much attention from locals.
Since 2007, the lighthouse society has been working on the memorial
site, refurbishing the Emidio's hull remains and installing a new flag
pole and Merchant Marine banner.
The event will also mark the release of a series of stamps honoring
the Merchant Marines. Commemorative envelopes will be postmarked and
released as a "First Day of Issue" and sold for $7.
If there is bad weather, the event will be rescheduled for after the
The public is invited. For more information, contact Guy Towers at
Reach Adam Spencer at firstname.lastname@example.org .