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Vet 1540

SHARKHUNTERS Salutes Veterans

RICHARD J. O’KANE (1540-1990)

United States Navy, Submarine Service
Skipper, USS TANG (SS 306)

Formal USN photo upon promotion to Commander

On the bridge of USS WAHOO (SS 238) with Commander Dudley “Mush” Morton when O’KANE was a junior officer. O’KANE was transferred off  WAHOO before she departed on her final patrol, from which she did not return.

O’KANE and USS TANG were sunk by a circle-running torpedo they had fired at a Japanese ship. According to O’KANE, seventeen men made it off TANG into the water but one by one, ten slipped into the depths of the ocean.

Later O’KANE realized that the single men died while the married men hung on and were picked up by the Japanese and although this was better than death, it was not a pleasant experience.

They were put into a compartment in the hold – with survivors of ships they had just sunk! They were badly beaten; O’KANE had several bones broken. When the war was over and American prisoners were repatriated, O’KANE was rescued. He was decorated with the Medal of Honor – America’s highest decoration.