HMS Juneau

Discovery Of USS Juneau Brings Closure

The recent discovery has provided some closure to people with connections to the ship which was blown apart during the Second World War.

HMS Juneau

The recent discovery of the USS Juneau in the depths of the South Pacific has provided some closure to people with connections to the ship which was blown apart during the Second World War.

Hundreds died, including the five Sullivan brothers from Waterloo, Iowa, whose story was chronicled in a 1944 movie.

An expedition backed by Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul Allen reported finding the wreckage over the weekend.

Wreckage of the USS Juneau - named after the city in Alaska - was found about 2.6 miles (4.2 kilometres) underwater, off the coast of the Solomon Islands, Mr Allen's organisation said.

Bob Neymeyer, a historian at the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum, called the discovery of the ship's wreckage "stunning news."

The brothers, "blue collar kids living in a factory town of Waterloo, Iowa," had convinced the Navy to assign them to the same ship, he said.

Even after so many years, and at a time when most Second World War veterans have died, Mr Neymeyer said the Sullivan family's sacrifice stands out.

He said the deaths were the largest single-family combat loss in American military history.

"We have people visit the museum and many of them want to know where the Sullivans are buried and we would tell them somewhere in the South Pacific," Mr Neymeyer said.

"Now we can tell them more specifically where the remains are after 75 years and that brings more closure than somewhere in the South Pacific."

Mr Reams said the team does not publicly disclose exactly where they have found ships to discourage wreck hunters but for US ships it does provide that information to the Naval History and Heritage Command for its own records.

Samuel Cox, director of the Naval History and Heritage Command, said he was struck at how well preserved the three most recent ships found were.

With the USS Juneau, he said the extreme violence with which the ship met its end was obvious from the images captured, including twisted metal and guns blown from their normal position.

He said discoveries like this, made by reputable organisations with no intent to disturb a site, can provide important information on the condition of a wreck site and even on what happened.

It also can help provide closure for families, and it is important that the sacrifices that have been made are not forgotten, he said.

Mary and Raymond Testa, who live in Texas, were excited when they heard the USS Juneau had been found.

Mary Testa had inherited letters from her mother that had been written by a sailor aboard the ship, William Meeker Jr.

Ms Meeker's mother also was Mary Testa's godmother, and the letters have since been donated to the Juneau-Douglas City Museum, in Alaska's capital cityMary Testa said the discovery of the ship was unbelievable. Her husband said he couldn't stop talking about it.

"I contacted everybody I could possibly think of ... who has any relationship to the ship," Raymond Testa said.

The vessel was destroyed on November 13, 1942, during intense fighting with the Japanese during the Battle of Guadalcanal.