Loved ones of sailor on long-lost World War II submarine recently found speak out
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Loved ones of sailor on long-lost World War II submarine recently found speak out

Sacramento native Ralph Erskine Manning was on the USS Harder when it was attacked and sunk in the waters near the Philippines during World War II.For decades, his family wondered what happened to the submarine.The wreckage of the USS Harder was just found this week, 3,000 feet underwater off the northern Philippine island of Luzon. The U.S. Navy said the submarine appeared upright and largely intact. It was lost in battle on Aug. 24, 1944, along with its entire crew of 79 submariners, as the U.S. tried to retake the Philippines from occupying Japanese forces during World War II.Manning was an electrician’s mate on the USS Harder, and he was reported missing, along with the rest of his crewmates, following the attack.His family told Sacramento sister station KCRA that he was born in 1920, raised in Sacramento and graduated from Sacramento High School. He got married and enlisted shortly after. His daughter Patricia LeBar never got to meet Manning.”I was born two weeks after he was reported missing,” Patricia said.But through stories about her father, told by her mother and other loved ones, Patricia said she still has a strong connection with him.”I’ve always loved him, and I always will,” Patricia said.Learning about the discovery of the USS Harder wreckage has led to an emotional roller coaster for Patricia. She said that after nearly 80 years of questions, she never expected to get any closure.”I was speechless because I’ve waited since I was in grade school to hear about my dad and his submarine,” Patricia said. “I’m very overwhelmed. It’s heart-wrenching that at least I know that they actually found his submarine.”Patricia’s daughter Kathy LeBar, Manning’s granddaughter, said from what she has learned from family members that Manning was a hard worker and a kind man. She, too, has wondered for years about what happened to the USS Harder. Now that she has an answer, she is shocked and thrilled.”I’m amazed. I can’t tell you how excited we are that we may actually be getting him back somehow. We’ve never met him. If this is how we meet him, this is how we meet him, and it’s just, you don’t think about it, but it hits you, that, ‘Oh, that’s my grandpa,'” Kathy said. “My whole family right now is just like, ‘What? They found it? You’re kidding me.'”Although Manning is gone, his legacy lives on. Several members of his family have served in the U.S. Navy, including Kathy’s eldest son Michael. Looking at her son and comparing his likeness to photos of her grandfather, she said she notices some similarities.“I can see a little bit. I can see maybe in the eyes,” Kathy said. “I think he’s got a lot of his smile.”The discovery of the USS Harder wreckage was made just days before Memorial Day. Kathy said she hopes her grandfather’s story serves as a reminder to celebrate Memorial Day for what it was truly meant for.“You should commemorate those who have died, especially in battle,” Kathy said.According to the On Eternal Patrol website, which is dedicated to highlighting the lost submariners of World War II, Manning was decorated with the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.

Sacramento native Ralph Erskine Manning was on the USS Harder when it was attacked and sunk in the waters near the Philippines during World War II.

For decades, his family wondered what happened to the submarine.

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The wreckage of the USS Harder was just found this week, 3,000 feet underwater off the northern Philippine island of Luzon. The U.S. Navy said the submarine appeared upright and largely intact. It was lost in battle on Aug. 24, 1944, along with its entire crew of 79 submariners, as the U.S. tried to retake the Philippines from occupying Japanese forces during World War II.

ralph erskine manning

Kathy LeBar

Manning during his arrival to Pearl Harbor.

Manning was an electrician’s mate on the USS Harder, and he was reported missing, along with the rest of his crewmates, following the attack.

His family told Sacramento sister station KCRA that he was born in 1920, raised in Sacramento and graduated from Sacramento High School. He got married and enlisted shortly after. His daughter Patricia LeBar never got to meet Manning.

“I was born two weeks after he was reported missing,” Patricia said.

ralph erskine manning

Kathy LeBar

Manning’s senior photo from Sacramento High School.

But through stories about her father, told by her mother and other loved ones, Patricia said she still has a strong connection with him.

“I’ve always loved him, and I always will,” Patricia said.

Learning about the discovery of the USS Harder wreckage has led to an emotional roller coaster for Patricia. She said that after nearly 80 years of questions, she never expected to get any closure.

“I was speechless because I’ve waited since I was in grade school to hear about my dad and his submarine,” Patricia said. “I’m very overwhelmed. It’s heart-wrenching that at least I know that they actually found his submarine.”

ralph erskine manning

Kathy LeBar

Manning signing his enlistment papers shortly after getting married.

Patricia’s daughter Kathy LeBar, Manning’s granddaughter, said from what she has learned from family members that Manning was a hard worker and a kind man. She, too, has wondered for years about what happened to the USS Harder. Now that she has an answer, she is shocked and thrilled.

“I’m amazed. I can’t tell you how excited we are that we may actually be getting him back somehow. We’ve never met him. If this is how we meet him, this is how we meet him, and it’s just, you don’t think about it, but it hits you, that, ‘Oh, that’s my grandpa,'” Kathy said. “My whole family right now is just like, ‘What? They found it? You’re kidding me.'”

Although Manning is gone, his legacy lives on. Several members of his family have served in the U.S. Navy, including Kathy’s eldest son Michael. Looking at her son and comparing his likeness to photos of her grandfather, she said she notices some similarities.

“I can see a little bit. I can see maybe in the eyes,” Kathy said. “I think he’s got a lot of his smile.”

The discovery of the USS Harder wreckage was made just days before Memorial Day. Kathy said she hopes her grandfather’s story serves as a reminder to celebrate Memorial Day for what it was truly meant for.

“You should commemorate those who have died, especially in battle,” Kathy said.

According to the On Eternal Patrol website, which is dedicated to highlighting the lost submariners of World War II, Manning was decorated with the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.

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