Monday, September 12, 2005

Hidden Motorcycle on Submarine?

Remember the USS Lagarto, SS-371? Lagarto's sunken wreckage had been found four months ago by a team of deepsea divers -200 feet below sea level, 93 miles from the southeast coast of Thailand. Now, a suprising disclosure from the hometown newspaper of one of Lagarto's officers on Eternal Patrol since May 24, 1945.

Divers were permitted to photograph the ship from the outside in mid–July, mostly to confirm that the submarine is, in fact, the USS Lagarto. Two family members visited the wreckage with the divers, armed with letters, pictures and other mementos Lagarto families have sent them to be read or placed at the site as a goodbye to their loved ones.

Cmdr. Frank Latta, a native of Burlington and a 1928 Burlington High grad, was one of those considered missing in action and presumed dead since May 24, 1945.

"Mike knows his father had a motorcycle the crew snuck onto the submarine," Carol Latta said, a hint of laughter in her voice. Latta explained that her father–in–law had a passion for motorcycles. Although it was against Navy policy to bring motorcycles on board, Frank Latta would disassemble the bike, put it in a crate and sneak it on the ship.

Once the ship had landed, he would put it back together again and ride it up and down the streets wherever they were. "It's probably still on board (the submarine)," Latta said.

Molten Eagle believes the Army (or Navy) deployed a few motorcycles on subs during WWII for use in special situations. If anyone can share specifics, we will be looking forward to them. Also, how long would assembly and disassembly of a motorcycle take, assuming it was not a complicated, foreign make?

Finally, where would it most likely be stored?


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