Saturday, September 20, 2014
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Letters Extra: Thresher disaster at half-century

Among the 129 crew members lost was an adopted son of Philadelphia, Lt. Commander John Wesley Harvey. He took command of the Thresher submarine only months before the disaster.

Letters Extra: Thresher disaster at half-century

The sinking of the nuclear-powered attack submarine USS Thresher 50 years ago this week in the waters off Kittery, Maine taught the Navy valuable lessons about how to build safer submarines. But among the 129 crew members lost was an adopted son of Philadelphia, Lt. Commander John Wesley Harvey. He took command of the Thresher only months before the disaster.

Bronx-born Harvey's family moved to Northeast Philadelphia when he was a child, and he attended Edmunds Elementary School, Wilson Junior High, and Frankford High School. He graduated with honors from each school. He attended the University of Pennsylvania for a short time, and played football. While at Penn, he received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy.

On Armed Forces weekend in May, 1963, the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard held an open house. One of the submarines open for tours was the conventional submarine, USS Hake. A collection box was set up aboard the submarine to provide money for the families who lost loved ones on the Thresher. Many Philadelphia visitors donated.

On this anniversary, everyone should take time out to remember the sacrifices that the U.S. military has made for our freedom.

Steven Silverman, Philadelphia

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