From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

William Kornahrens '39

Date of birth: February 12, 1916

Date of death: July 30, 1942

Age: 26

Lucky Bag

From the 1939 Lucky Bag:


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 severe 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.

Navy Directories & Officer Registers

The "Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps" was published annually from 1815 through at least the 1970s; it provided rank, command or station, and occasionally billet until the beginning of World War II when command/station was no longer included. Scanned copies were reviewed and data entered from the mid-1840s through 1922, when more-frequent Navy Directories were available.

The Navy Directory was a publication that provided information on the command, billet, and rank of every active and retired naval officer. Single editions have been found online from January 1915 and March 1918, and then from three to six editions per year from 1923 through 1940; the final edition is from April 1941.

The entries in both series of documents are sometimes cryptic and confusing. They are often inconsistent, even within an edition, with the name of commands; this is especially true for aviation squadrons in the 1920s and early 1930s.

Alumni listed at the same command may or may not have had significant interactions; they could have shared a stateroom or workspace, stood many hours of watch together… or, especially at the larger commands, they might not have known each other at all. The information provides the opportunity to draw connections that are otherwise invisible, though, and gives a fuller view of the professional experiences of these alumni in Memorial Hall.

October 1939

Ensign, USS Trenton

Others at this command:

June 1940

Ensign, USS Trenton

Others at this command:

November 1940

Ensign, USS Trenton

April 1941

Ensign, USS Trenton

Others at this command:

Class of 1939

William is one of 78 members of the Class of 1939 on Virtual Memorial Hall.

The "category" links below lead to lists of related Honorees; use them to explore further the service and sacrifice of the alumni in Memorial Hall.