Willie A McNeill - Killed Aboard USS Albacore - Sunk by a Mine
Willie A McNeill McKenna was born in Wagram, North Carolina on June 22, 1925. According to the 1940 US Census, he was living with his grandparents, Dan D McNeill, aged 62, was listed as a laborer on a farm. His grandmother, Harriett, 63, was a house wife. The family lived Spring Hill, Scotland County, North Carolina. Willie, 16 years old at the time of the census, was also recorded as a laborer and finished the 7th grade in school. He had a sister Mary, 14, and two brothers Harrison 2 and John 12.
Willie’s Service Number was 969 12 10. He registered for the Draft in 1943. His father was listed as Vinton McNeill. McNeill mustered aboard the USS Albacore on Oct 28, 1944. He was then listed as a Steward's Mate, Second Class.
Tragically, McKenna died, along with the rest of the crew, November 7, 1944, when the submarine USS Albacore (SS-218) was sunk after striking a mine near Hokkaido, Japan. He was first listed as MIA and then declared ‘Dead while Missing.’ He was awarded the Purple Heart posthumously.
Willie A McNeill is memorialized at Tablets of the Missing at the Honolulu Memorial. This is an American Battle Monuments Commission location.
“USS ALBACORE on ETERNAL PATROL” (from website)
The ALBACORE, with LCDR H. R. Rimmer in command, left Pearl Harbor on October 24, 1944, topped off with fuel at Midway on October 28, and departed there for her eleventh patrol the same day, never to be heard from again. Her area was northeast of Honshu and south of Hokkaido, and because of the danger of mineable waters, she was ordered to stay outside of waters less than 100 fathoms deep.
She was to depart her area at sunset on December 5, 1944, and was expected at Midway about 12 December. When she had not been seen, nor heard from by December 21 despite the sharpest of lookouts for her, she was reported as presumed lost.
Enemy information available now indicates that ALBACORE perished by hitting a mine. The explosion occurred on November 7, 1944, at Latitude 41° 49' N, Longitude 141° 11' E, while ALBACORE was submerged, and was witnessed by an enemy patrol craft. The craft reports having seen much heavy oil and bubbles, cork, bedding and various provisions after the explosion.
Albacore won nine battle stars for her service and the Presidential Unit Citation for her second, third, eighth, and ninth patrols during World War II.
This story is part of the Stories Behind the Stars project (see www.storiesbehindthestars.org). This is a national effort of volunteers to write the stories of all 400,000+ of the US WWII fallen here on Fold3. Can you help write these stories? Related to this, there will be a smart phone app that will allow people to visit any war memorial or cemetery, scan the fallen's name and read his/her story.
Albacore (SS-218) “On Eternal Patrol” - Compiled by Paul W. Wittmer and Charles R. Hinman, originally from: U.S. Submarine Losses World War II, NAVPERS 15,784, 1949 ISSUE.