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Birthdate & Date of Loss

Date of birth: February 12, 1916
Date of death: July 30, 1942
Age: 26

Lucky Bag

1939 Kornahrens LB.jpg

From the 1939 Lucky Bag:



Primo, Billie

Imperturbability personified! — That's Primo! He forsook the beautiful land of pine trees for four years in Crabtown, and although his accent has been a little subdued, the more strenuous life of the Academy has left him with the same good humor and mild temper of earlier days. His bold nonchalance, supported by a large smile that radiates personality, wins for him a place in everyone's heart. The Academic Departments once took advantage of his good nature and threw him for a small loss, but it didn't seem to faze him in the least. Six feet two into the atmosphere and possessing the original body beautiful, he is truly the answer to a maiden's fervent prayer; but all applicants are reminded that competition is plentiful.



William was lost when USS Grunion (SS 216) was sunk by the armed Japanese freighter Kano Maru on July 30, 1942, approximately 10 miles northeast of Kiska in the Aleutian Islands.

His wife was listed as next of kin.


From Veteran Tributes:

William Kornahrens was born on February 12, 1916, in Brooklyn, New York. He entered the U.S. Naval Academy on June 12, 1934, and was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy on June 1, 1939. Ens Kornahrens next served aboard the light cruiser USS Trenton (CL-11) from June 1939 to February 1941, followed by Submarine School at Submarine Base New London, Connecticut, from April to June 1941. He then served aboard the submarine USS O-6 (SS-67) from July 1941 to February 1942. Lt Kornahrens joined the crew of the USS Grunion (SS-216) during her fitting out in February 1942, and remained aboard through her commissioning in April 1942. He was killed in action during a confrontation with the armed Japanese freighter Kano Maru on July 30, 1942. On August 22, 2007, a search team organized by the three sons of CDR Mannert Abele (the Captain of the Grunion when she was sunk) used a remotely operated vehicle to find a sunken vessel 3,000 feet down in the Bering Sea north of Kiska Island at the tip of the Aleutian Islands. On October 1, 2008, the U.S. Navy announced that the sunken vessel is the World War II submarine USS Grunion (SS-216).

His Navy Commendation Medal Citation reads:

For meritorious conduct as Gunnery Officer of the U.S.S. GRUNION which destroyed three enemy destroyers while engaged in a war patrol in enemy controlled waters. Despite sever and persistent anti-submarine measures resulting from these three successful attacks, the GRUNION was brought safely through the counter attacks and continued an aggressive war patrol. As Gunnery Officer of the GRUNION, your performance of duty was an important and material contribution to the prosecution of this war.

Class Navigation

Class of 1939
William is one of 75 members of the Class of 1939 in Memorial Hall.
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