Monday, May 09, 2005


Navy vet may learn what sank his ship


The Lompoc Record
By Mark Abramson
May 07, 2005

Navy veteran Roy Viele will be glued to his TV Monday night as the History Channel uncovers what happened to the sunken World War II destroyer USS Meredith. Viele served on the ship during the D-Day invasion.

The History Channel show "Deep Sea Detectives," at 10 p.m. on Comcast Channel 56, will focus on the ship that went down June 8, 1944, off Utah Beach in Normandy, France.

Viele, who was 19 when the Meredith sank, refuted the Navy's findings that a mine caused the sinking as the vessel backed up. He remembers spotting a German torpedo bomber as he stood lookout on the ship's bridge, and believes that aircraft sank the Meredith. The ship was hit at 1:52 a.m.

The Navy, however, reported that the Meredith sank after backing into a mine, but Viele said he does not remember the ship going in reverse just before the explosion.

"The old expression 'your life flashes before you eyes,' I found that to be true," Viele said about being aboard the ship as it got.

Viele remembers the chaos and gore that unfolded after the explosion. The leg of one sailor he tried to carry to safety fell off. He escaped the Meredith without being injured. The experience left an impression on him that caused him to think back to that horrific day every time he walked around certain parts of other ships he was aboard during his naval career.

"There were a few nasty things that took place," he said. "There were a few gory things."

According to Navy reports, the explosion caused a 65-foot hole on the port side of the Meredith. There were eight fatalities, 28 missing people and 27 wounded on the ship. The Meredith weathered another air attack after it had been evacuated, and it went down after it broke in two June 9, 1944.

Viele is anxious to rekindle his old memories of the Meredith as he sees the sunken ship through the eyes of underwater cameras after all these years. Although he has not seen the show yet, he has watched other episodes, which uses divers, remotely operated vehicles and small submarines to unravel maritime mysteries.
"To some degree I would say it will be emotional," Viele said.

After almost 61 years, Viele said he is looking forward to getting answers and seeing what "Deep Sea Detectives" uncovers. But the 30-year naval veteran may not get all of his questions answered by watching the program.

"I would like to find my $200 that is in my locker, it's still down there," he said. "I'm glad after all these years we are getting looked at."


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