Ardmore family gets closure after missing WWII submarine found

Published: Nov. 15, 2019 at 8:30 PM CST
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A family in Ardmore says they now have closure after ocean researchers discovered a sunken World War II submarine earlier this year.

Lee Caroll Stanford of Ardmore was one of the 80 sailors serving aboard the USS Grayback when it sank in February 1944 after it was hit by bombs from a Japanese plane near the island of Okinawa.

Stanford, born in 1915, grew up just east of Ardmore. He was the youngest of 10 siblings.

"The sad thing was they never knew where the ship went down, where the submarine went down. It was a mystery," said Melinda Cox.

Cox, Robert Hunter and David Hunter are the great-niece and great-nephews of Stanford.

They heard stories from their grandmother, Fern Stanford Worly, Lee's older sister.

"Granny, every time she brought up her brother, tears would just flow because he was so, so dear to all of them and he was so good," said Cox.

"I wish, in my heart, I wish that granny could have known where the final resting place was, and all the other siblings," said Robert Hunter.

Explorers with the Lost 52 Project found the USS Grayback in June and the US Navy confirmed the find earlier this month right around Veterans Day.

David said his wife was scrolling through her phone when she saw a story about the missing sub.

"She said "The Grayback" and I nearly fell out in the floor, literally. I got on the phone and started calling everybody," David said.

Records show the USS Grayback was ranked the 20th most successful US submarine in the war, sinking several Japanese ships in its 10 war patrols.

"They'll be forever entombed inside the ship or what's left of the ship. That's their final resting place and that's ok. At least, we know where it's at now," Robert said. "But Project 52 did a great thing. They put closure to our family, gave us a closure. And we got to learn more about our great uncle."

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