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By James P. Delgado

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Master son, was ashore during the attack. He returned to assist with first aid and muster the surviving crew members. “There weren’t many,” he later said. ” After being temporarily reassigned to the battleship Maryland, Masterson decided to return to Arizona to take down the flag. ” With another Arizona survivor, Ensign Leon Grabowsky, Masterson motored over to the still-burning ship in a launch. Jumping aboard, they found only an eerie silence. ” As the sun set, Grabowsky lowered the flag while Masterson gathered up the oily cloth in his arms.

They are small square ports—they seem too small to be for guns, I think—and I run my gloved hand along the top of one to check for hardware or the hole for a lanyard to pull open a gun port. The wood is solid, and there is no evidence of hinges or other hardware. They look to be cargo ports—square holes cut to load bulk cargo like coal or grain, then plugged with wood and caulked for the voyage. To make sure, I inspect each one. My reward for this meticulous work is a sudden encounter with the rotting head of a salmon, stuck in a wad of net inside one of the ports, its empty eye sockets staring at me as I stick my head into the port.

We can’t see more than a couple of yards ahead as we adjust our buoyancy. Floating gently over the mud, we swim slowly towards the wreck. My subconscious registers the looming presence of the hulk before I realize that I see it. Perhaps it is the shadow of the wreck’s mass in the sun-struck water, masked by the silt, but there, suddenly darker and cooler. My heart starts to pound and my breath gets shallow for a second with superstitious fear. This is my first dive on a shipwreck with so many lost souls aboard.

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