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Shipwrecked destroyer found in deep sea has city connection

There is a Dunkirk connection to the deepest sunken shipwreck ever discovered in the Philippine Sea.

The wreck of the U.S. World War II destroyer was found in late October resting at a depth of 20,406 feet by experts on the Research Vessel Petrel. Reports indicated explorers used an undersea drone to locate the ship, which is believed to be the USS Johnston, a Fletcher-class destroyer sunk during the Battle of Samar, a key action in the Battle of Leyte Gulf in 1944.

According to the Naval History and Heritage Command web site, of the 327 who served on the vessel, only 141 were saved. Of 186 lost, about 50 were killed by enemy action, 45 died on rafts from battle injuries; and 92, including Comdr. Ernest E. Evans, were alive in the water after Johnston sank, but were never heard from again.

One of those men was Richard P. Benjamin, torpedoman’s mate, third class. Benjamin, like others who perished on the crew, was lost on Oct. 26, 1944. According to the book, “No One Forgets: Our Fallen Heroes,” compiled by George H. Burns III and Richard Titus, the Dunkirk man’s name is listed on the Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery in the Philippines.

Before serving, he was a resident on Lake Shore Drive West.

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