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Loved ones in SD react to long lost WWII submarine found near coast of Japan

Local loved ones of lost sailors react to discovery
Local loved ones of lost sailors react to discovery
Posted at 4:05 PM, Feb 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-21 22:18:45-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - After nearly eight decades, several local families are getting a sense of closure after the Navy confirmed a long lost WWII submarine was found off the coast of Japan.

Judy Swink was just six months old when her uncle, Navy Lt. Walter Lang Jr, and the submarine he served on, USS Albacore, disappeared during World War II.

“I feel close to him through my mother and his son, Walter. We grew up together,” said Swink.

According to Navy records, the submarine was believed to have been struck by a mine in November 1944 off the coast of Hokkaido.

That's where Japanese researchers discovered a wreck last May. Last week, the Navy confirmed, it is the USS Albacore.

“I'm just very happy to know that his resting place has been found,” said Swink.

That feeling is dull because her mom and cousin have passed.

"I'm sad neither of them, and I’m getting emotional thinking above it … I’m sad neither of them are alive to understand that the boat has been discovered,” said Swink.

Also among the Albacore crew of nearly 90 was James Porter. A photo shows him and with his newborn son, 10 months before the submarine was lost.

“It’s always been this mystery in our family that's always been there,” said Miranda Porter DeArmond, Porter’s granddaughter.

Porter DeArmond says she and other family got emotional when told of the discovery.

“It was just shock, then a sense of awe, realizing we finally have this closure,” said Porter DeArmond.

At Liberty Station, there are individual memorials dedicated to the more than 50 submarines lost during the war, including the USS Albacore.

Swink says the nonprofit that helped put up the memorials, Hawaii-based On Eternal Patrol, plans to update the USS Albacore memorial with the discovery. The group has been contacting the loved ones of crew members.

“It mean a sense of relief. For families of others still missing, it will bring home that people care. There was many searches going on,” said Swink.

“It just nice to finally be able to say, ‘We know where he is,’” said Porter DeArmond.

Navy officials say there are no plans for the site. It is considered a war grave, a hallowed site protected by federal law.