GREENVILLE Co., S.C. (WSPA) – A submarine with a crew of 80 sailors presumed lost at sea in World War II has been found off the coast of Okinawa, Japan 75 years later. One of those sailors, Lee Roy Cox, was from Greer.
His sister Aggie was just 26 days old when their mother learned the submarine on which Cox was serving, the USS Grayback, was reported missing in 1944.
“It was almost like he was here because we talked about him a lot,” said Aggie Cox Cooper.
Year after year, Cox’s family wondered where he was.
“We wanted to know what happened, but our hope was of course, you always have this little hope…that he’ll come home alive,” Cooper said.
Friday, his remaining family finally heard the news: the Grayback and its crew had been located at a depth of about 1,400 feet off the coast of Okinawa, Japan.
“I burst out crying,” Cooper said. “And I cried. And I cried. And I cried.”
She said they were tears of joy.
“I was just overwhelmed, and still, I lie in bed and wonder if it’s really true,” she said.
The privately funded Lost 52 Project located the submarine using technology like an underwater drone and sonar. Its mission is to find the 52 submarines lost in World War II.
“I just cannot thank them enough,” Cooper said. “They never gave up…and they’re still searching.”
The USS Grayback sunk more than a dozen Japanese ships until a plane dropped a bomb on it. Cox and the other 79 sailors aboard made the ultimate sacrifice. Cox’s great-nephew, high schooler Braeden Ray, said his uncle is one of the reasons he now wants to serve his country in the armed forces.
“I believe that’s a good bit of why I want to join, and why I’m looking forward to joining,” he said.
Seven of the 52 submarines lost in World War II have been found, according to the Lost 52 Project.
You can see the full list of sailors who were on the USS Grayback here.