When the nuclear-powered submarine USS Thresher sank in the Atlantic Ocean 50 years ago in April 1963, a former Minot man was among those aboard.
Lt. Cmdr. Robert Lee Krag was a deputy commander for submarines in the North Atlantic and was on the trip as an observer.
Never before in war or peace had so many men perished in one American submarine as did when the 129 men down in the Thresher, the Navy reported.
The incident occurred only six months after the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Krag's mother, Inga Krag, was a teacher at Lincoln Elementary in Minot when she received the word that her son might be lost at sea, The Minot Daily News reported on April 11, 1963. She received a telegram from the chief of Naval Personnel saying her son was on board the Thresher when the submarine was involved in an accident on April 10, 1963, 225 miles east of Cape Cod, Mass., where the submarine was conducting operations while submerged. The vice admiral assured the Minot woman in the telegram that every effort was being made to locate her son.
Inga Krag went to school that morning to assist in securing a substitute teacher and then went home to wait for more news.
For more information about the submarine Thresher and the 50th Annual USS Thresher Memorial Service go to (www.thresherbase.org) website.
The invitation only service at the Portsmouth High School Auditorium in Portsmouth, N.H., is set for Saturday, April 6, at noon and will be filmed live and streamed over the Defense Video & Information
Thresher 50th Anniversary
Distribution System website at (http://www.dvidshub.net).
Kevin Galeaz, of New Hampshire, USSVI Thresher Base commander and chairman of the Planning Committee for the annual USS Thresher Memorial Service, said one of the purposes of the live stream is to bring in family members who are too elderly or can't travel to the memorial service.
He said about 1,300 are expected to attend the memorial service this year.
The Thresher, one of the newest and most modern subs in the fleet, was on a training dive when the Navy lost all contact with it, according to The Associated Press.
At first the Navy reported the Thresher was overdue and presumed missing but changed the report to "appears to be lost" after an oil slick was sighted. The $45 million Thresher, built at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, near the city of Portsmouth, N.H., had been commissioned less than two years earlier,
The day after relatives of the men onboard were notified of the situation, the chief of naval operations, Adm. George W. Anderson, announced he had come to the conclusion the Thresher was lost and notices were dispatched to the next of kin of the men aboard.
Later that month, Lt. Cmdr. Krag's mother asked The Minot Daily News to print the letter she received from Vice Adm. E.W. Grenfell, commander of the U.S. Naval Atlantic Fleet submarine force.
"I feel that all civilians should read the (admiral's) letter. We Americans are so casual and do not stop to think that democracy has a price," Inga Krag told the newspaper.
Grenfell's letter to Inga Krag included:
"Your son and those he went to sea with died serving their country during a very critical time in our nation's history a time when it is imperative that we have forces with as great a military capability as possible. The men who perished in Thresher were a highly select group of dedicated officers and men who were proud of this ship and its ability to go deeper and faster than any previous submarine.
"Your son was a true pioneer in the art of submarining and I shall do everything within my power to insure that he is so remembered by his fellow countrymen and honored for giving his life to his country."
Krag was born at Hannaford.
According to The Minot Daily News files:
Krag graduated from Minot High School in 1946 before he went to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis and graduated from there in 1950. He also was a North Dakota nominee for a Rhodes Scholarship.
After serving on the carrier USS Franklin Roosevelt for about three years, the Navy sent Krag to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he completed a three-year course, earning a master of engineering degree and graduating as second high man in his class.
He went on to submarine school at New London, Conn., finishing first in his class and was immediately assigned to nuclear submarine duty aboard the Albacore. In a short time he had advanced in rank, including serving as the supervisor of shipbuilding at Groton, Conn., at the electric boat division of the General Dynamics Corp. He was deputy commander of submarines, Atlantic, at the time of his death.
Krag and his wife, Olga, and their children lived in New London.
A New London church named a new parish school in Lt. Cmdr. Krag's honor and dedicated a sound system in the church to his memory.
A memorial marker honors him in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va.
Later, military officials determined the submarine had probably sank due to leakage in the engine room's seawater system, as well as other probable causes.
The loss of Thresher was the genesis of the SUBSAFE Program, according to the Thresherbase website.
"In June 1963, in the aftermath of the loss of Thresher while investigations, design reviews and testimony to Congress were in progress, the SUBSAFE Program was created. The SUBSAFE Program is to provide maximum reasonable assurance of watertight integrity and recovery capability of a submarine," the website said.