Sacramento sailor on World War II submarine USS Harder leaves lasting legacy (2024)

DISCOVERY. DECADES IN THE MAKING. THE WRECKAGE OF A WORLD WAR TWO US NAVY SUBMARINE HAS BEEN FOUND. THE DISCOVERY COMES NEARLY 80 YEARS AFTER IT WAS SUNK BY ENEMY FORCES. THAT SUB WAS FOUND 3000FT DOWN IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA OFF THE NORTHERN PHILIPPINE ISLAND OF LUZON. LOVED ONES OF THOSE WHO SERVED ON THAT SUBMARINE HAVE WONDERED FOR DECADES NOW WHAT HAPPENED. AND THE ANSWER IS PROVIDING SOME SENSE OF CLOSURE TO A SACRAMENTO AREA FAMILY. KCRA THREES ORKO MANNA JOINS US RIGHT NOW. ORKO AND YOU SPOKE TO THE DAUGHTER AND THE GRANDDAUGHTER OF THIS MAN HERE WHO WAS LOST AT SEA. YEAH. GULSTAN, AS YOU CAN IMAGINE, THEY’VE BEEN WAITING A LONG TIME FOR THIS MOMENT. RALPH ERSKINE MANNING HAD ONLY BEEN SERVING IN THE NAVY FOR A COUPLE OF YEARS WHEN HE WAS LOST AT SEA WHILE ON THE U.S.S. HARDER. HE WAS DECORATED WITH THE BRONZE STAR AND THE PURPLE HEART. I SPOKE TO HIS DAUGHTER AND HIS GRANDDAUGHTER TODAY AND ALTHOUGH THEY NEVER HAD THE CHANCE TO MEET RALPH, THEY SAY HE LEFT A LASTING IMPRESSION ON THEM AND THE WHOLE FAMILY. AND THAT’S RALPH AND I BELIEVE THIS WAS SHORTLY RIGHT AFTER THEY GOT MARRIED THAT HE ENLISTED IT SAID THAT A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS, BUT THESE IMAGES OF RALPH ERSKINE MANNING HARD WORKER NAMED AFTER HIS FATHER, HAVE AN IMMEASURABLE VALUE TO HIS GRANDDAUGHTER, KATHY LIEBERT. WHAT AN AMAZING MAN. RALPH WAS BORN IN 1920, GREW UP IN SACRAMENTO AND GRADUATED FROM SACRAMENTO HIGH SCHOOL. HE SERVED IN THE NAVY DURING WORLD WAR TWO AND WAS AN ELECTRICIAN’S MATE ON THE USS HARDER, THE SUBMARINE SUNK IN BATTLE IN 1944 NEAR THE PHILIPPINE, WAS LOST IN THE WATER KNOWING THAT THEY WENT MISSING. I CAN’T IMAGINE HOW MY GRANDMOTHER FELT, BUT THIS WEEK, NEARLY 80 YEARS LATER, THE USS HARDER WAS FOUND. THE NAVY SAYS THE WRECKAGE WAS MOSTLY INTACT, 3000FT DOWN IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA. I MEAN, MY WHOLE FAMILY RIGHT NOW IS LIKE WHAT THEY FOUND IT. YOU’RE KIDDING ME. I’M AMAZED. I’M. I CAN’T TELL YOU HOW EXCITED WE ARE THAT WE MAY ACTUALLY MAYBE GETTING HIM BACK SOMEHOW. UM, WE’VE NEVER MET HIM. IF THIS IS HOW WE MEET HIM, THIS IS HOW WE MEET HIM. RALPH’S DAUGHTER, PATRICIA NEVER KNEW HIM, EITHER. SHE WAS BORN TWO WEEKS AFTER HE WAS REPORTED MISSING. I’VE ALWAYS LOVED HIM, AND I ALWAYS WILL. BUT HER CONNECTION TO HIM REMAINS STRONG. THE QUESTIONS PATRICIA HAS HAD ALL HER LIFE ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED TO HER FATHER FINALLY ANSWERED. I’M VERY OVERWHELMED. IT’S, UM, HEART WRENCHING TO KNOW THAT AT LEAST I KNOW THAT THEY ACTUALLY FOUND HIS SUBMARINE. BUT THEN, YOU KNOW, THEN YOU GET THE THE BOOK OF PUBLISHED CASUALTIES AND HIS NAMES IN IT. THEN IT BECOMES REAL. ALTHOUGH RALPH IS GONE, HIS LEGACY LIVES ON. SEVERAL FAMILY MEMBERS HAVE SERVED IN THE NAVY, INCLUDING KATHY’S SON, MICHAEL. I THINK HE’S GOT A LOT OF HIS SMILE, A CALL TO SERVE, ALL STARTING WITH A MAN FROM SACRAMENTO. IT’S KIND OF A FAMILY THING NOW. I THINK HE’S INSPIRED A LOT OF PEOPLE IN MY FAMILY, EVEN THOUGH NONE OF US EVEN REALLY GOT TO MEET HIM. IT’S JUST INCREDIBLE. AND RALPH’S LINEAGE NOW INCLUDES FIVE GRANDCHILDREN, 910 GREAT GRANDCHILDREN AND ONE GREAT GREAT GRANDDAUGHTER. AND THAT GIRL WAS BORN ON VETERAN’S DAY. SO THERE’S JUST A LOT OF CONNECTIONS WITH THIS FAMILY AND SERVING THEIR COUNTRY WELL. SPEAKING OF, LET’S TALK ABOUT THE TIMING OF THIS. WE ARE HEADING INTO MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND. IT’S REALLY A POIGNANT TIME TO GET THIS INFORMATION. EXACTLY. THE FAMILY TELLS ME THAT THEY REALLY WANT THIS TO SERVE AS A REMINDER TO EVERYONE, AN TO REALLY TAKE A MOMENT AND REFLECT ON WHAT MEMORIAL DAY IS ALL ABOUT. CELEBRATING THOSE WHO SERVED THEIR COUNTRY AND LOST THEIR LIVES LIKE RALPH. ABSOLUTELY. WELL, WE BOTH COME FROM MILITARY FAMILIES AND YEAH, WE WE SHARE THAT WITH AL

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Sacramento sailor on World War II submarine USS Harder leaves lasting legacy

The submarine wreckage was found after nearly 80 years of being lost at sea, leading to some closure for the family of Ralph Erskine Manning.

Sacramento native Ralph Erskine Manning was on the USS Harder when it was attacked and sunk in the waters near the Philippines during World War II. For decades, his family wondered what happened to the submarine.The wreckage of the USS Harder was just found this week, 3,000 feet underwater off the northern Philippine island of Luzon. The U.S. Navy said the submarine appeared upright and largely intact. It was lost in battle on Aug. 24, 1944, along with its entire crew of 79 submariners, as the U.S. tried to retake the Philippines from occupying Japanese forces during World War II.Manning was an electrician’s mate on the USS Harder, and he was reported missing, along with the rest of his crewmates, following the attack.His family told KCRA 3 he was born in 1920, raised in Sacramento and graduated from Sacramento High School. He got married and enlisted shortly after. His daughter Patricia LeBar never got to meet Manning.“I was born two weeks after he was reported missing,” Patricia said.But through stories about her father, told by her mother and other loved ones, Patricia said she still has a strong connection with him.“I’ve always loved him, and I always will,” Patricia said.Learning about the discovery of the USS Harder wreckage has led to an emotional roller coaster for Patricia. She said that after nearly 80 years of questions, she never expected to get any kind of closure.“I was speechless because I’ve waited since I was in grade school to hear about my dad and his submarine,” Patricia said. “I’m very overwhelmed. It’s heart-wrenching that at least I know that they actually found his submarine.”Patricia’s daughter Kathy LeBar, Manning’s granddaughter, said from what she has learned from family members, Manning was a hard worker and a kind man. She, too, has wondered for years about what happened to the USS Harder. Now that she has an answer, she is shocked and thrilled.“I’m amazed. I can’t tell you how excited we are that we may actually be getting him back somehow. We’ve never met him. If this is how we meet him, this is how we meet him, and it’s just, you don’t think about it, but it hits you, that, ‘Oh, that’s my grandpa,’” Kathy said. “My whole family right now is just like, ‘What? They found it? You’re kidding me.’”Although Manning is gone, his legacy lives on. Several members of his family have served in the U.S. Navy, including Kathy’s eldest son Michael. Looking at her son and comparing his likeness to photos of her grandfather, she said she notices some similarities.“I can see a little bit. I can see maybe in the eyes,” Kathy said. “I think he’s got a lot of his smile.”The discovery of the USS Harder wreckage was made just days before Memorial Day. Kathy said she hopes her grandfather’s story serves as a reminder to celebrate Memorial Day for what it was truly meant for.“You should commemorate those who have died, especially in battle,” Kathy said.According to the On Eternal Patrol website, which is dedicated to highlighting the lost submariners of World War II, Manning was decorated with the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.See more coverage of top California stories here | Download our app.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. —

Sacramento native Ralph Erskine Manning was on the USS Harder when it was attacked and sunk in the waters near the Philippines during World War II. For decades, his family wondered what happened to the submarine.

The wreckage of the USS Harder was just found this week, 3,000 feet underwater off the northern Philippine island of Luzon. The U.S. Navy said the submarine appeared upright and largely intact. It was lost in battle on Aug. 24, 1944, along with its entire crew of 79 submariners, as the U.S. tried to retake the Philippines from occupying Japanese forces during World War II.

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Manning was an electrician’s mate on the USS Harder, and he was reported missing, along with the rest of his crewmates, following the attack.

Sacramento sailor on World War II submarine USS Harder leaves lasting legacy (2)

Kathy LeBar

His family told KCRA 3 he was born in 1920, raised in Sacramento and graduated from Sacramento High School. He got married and enlisted shortly after. His daughter Patricia LeBar never got to meet Manning.

“I was born two weeks after he was reported missing,” Patricia said.

But through stories about her father, told by her mother and other loved ones, Patricia said she still has a strong connection with him.

“I’ve always loved him, and I always will,” Patricia said.

Learning about the discovery of the USS Harder wreckage has led to an emotional roller coaster for Patricia. She said that after nearly 80 years of questions, she never expected to get any kind of closure.

“I was speechless because I’ve waited since I was in grade school to hear about my dad and his submarine,” Patricia said. “I’m very overwhelmed. It’s heart-wrenching that at least I know that they actually found his submarine.”

Sacramento sailor on World War II submarine USS Harder leaves lasting legacy (3)

Kathy LeBar

Patricia’s daughter Kathy LeBar, Manning’s granddaughter, said from what she has learned from family members, Manning was a hard worker and a kind man. She, too, has wondered for years about what happened to the USS Harder. Now that she has an answer, she is shocked and thrilled.

“I’m amazed. I can’t tell you how excited we are that we may actually be getting him back somehow. We’ve never met him. If this is how we meet him, this is how we meet him, and it’s just, you don’t think about it, but it hits you, that, ‘Oh, that’s my grandpa,’” Kathy said. “My whole family right now is just like, ‘What? They found it? You’re kidding me.’”

Although Manning is gone, his legacy lives on. Several members of his family have served in the U.S. Navy, including Kathy’s eldest son Michael. Looking at her son and comparing his likeness to photos of her grandfather, she said she notices some similarities.

“I can see a little bit. I can see maybe in the eyes,” Kathy said. “I think he’s got a lot of his smile.”

The discovery of the USS Harder wreckage was made just days before Memorial Day. Kathy said she hopes her grandfather’s story serves as a reminder to celebrate Memorial Day for what it was truly meant for.

“You should commemorate those who have died, especially in battle,” Kathy said.

According to the On Eternal Patrol website, which is dedicated to highlighting the lost submariners of World War II, Manning was decorated with the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.

See more coverage of top California stories here | Download our app.

Sacramento sailor on World War II submarine USS Harder leaves lasting legacy (2024)
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