From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

James Unger '43

Date of birth: September 15, 1919

Date of death: June 12, 1943

Age: 23

Lucky Bag

From the 1943 Lucky Bag:


From Find A Grave:

Lieutenant JG. Unger was killed when shortly after noon on 12 June 1943, R-12 while underway to conduct a torpedo practice approach, sounded her last diving alarm. As R-12 completed preparations to dive, the forward battery compartment began to flood. The collision alarm was sounded and a report was made that the forward battery compartment was flooding. Orders were given to blow main ballast, but the sea was faster. In about 15 seconds, R-12 was lost. The commanding officer, one other officer, and three enlisted men were swept from the bridge as the boat sank and were rescued. Forty-two lives were lost. R-12 was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 6 July.

The boat went down near Key West, Florida. A documentary movie was made about her, and her discovery, in January 2017.

His wife was listed as next of kin.

From the Class of 1943 anniversary book "25 years later…":

Jim was born on 15 September, 1919. He was appointed from at-large and entered the Academy on 7 July, 1939. After graduation he reported to Commander, Submarine Division TWELVE at Key West, Florida in connection with submarine training aboard the submarine USS R-2 and then to the Submarine Base, New London, Connecticut for further training. In December he reported to the submarine R-12 for duty in the Atlantic. On 12 June, 1943 the R-12 was taking position on the surface for a torpedo practice approach off Key West, Florida in good weather when collision alarm sounded below. Word was passed that the forward battery compartment was flooding. In fifteen calamitous seconds water closed in over the R-12 and only those on the bridge at the time were saved. Jim and all but two officers and three men aboard were lost. The cause of the sinking was unknown but probably was the result of flooding through a forward torpedo tube. Jim wore the American Defense Service Medal with Fleet Clasp, and the American Area Campaign Medal. Jim was survived by his wife, Viola Irins who at Jim's death resided at 96 Oakwood Avenue, Long Beach, New Jersey.

Class of 1943

James is one of 84 members of the Class of 1943 on Virtual Memorial Hall.

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