Philippine Sea

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Honoring those who died -a deep dive to USS Cooper (DD-695)

You might not know of the Battle for Ormoc Bay, but some divers attempted to honor those of the crew of USS Cooper who died there, when the ship was sunk by a torpedo in heavy fighting in the Philippines as reported here. And the dive was a world record success when the lead diver placed a memorial plaque on the deck of the ship as reported here
A nine-man technical diver team has set a new deep wreck scuba diving world record of 193 meters (633 feet).

Lead diver Rob Lalumiere reached the deck of the USS Cooper this morning at 8:22am, seven minutes after starting his descent, and placed a memorial plaque on the shipwreck to honor the 191 officers and crew who went down with the ship when it was torpedoed by the Japanese during the Battle of Ormoc Bay on December 3, 1944.

Over five hours later, as Lalumiere was completing his last required decompression stop at a depth of three meters, surviving USS Cooper crew 81-year-old Henry "Hank" Wagener asked to be taken from the surface support vessel to the top of the descent line which was connected to the ship he served aboard 60 years ago.

There Wagener waited for Lalumiere to surface as he held the descent line to "touch the souls" of his fallen comrades.

At 1:45pm, exactly five and a half hours after the dive started, Lalumiere resurfaced and shared an emotional embrace with Hank Wagener followed by high-fives and handshakes from the many tired but elated team members who worked for many months planning and preparing for the dive.
Old shipmates never forget...

Update: USS Cooper photo from here

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