By Ric Hedman © 2014
The men in the picture at left are; Archie Nevis Lunger, (left) and Frank Charles Pierard, (right). They started their lives by being born on opposites sides of the country. That their lives would become intertwined and they would share the same fate is something neither could have imagined.
Archie Lunger was born on November 13, 1886 in Waterford, Pennsylvania. His parents were Isaac and Ella F Lunger. They lived at 418 Cherrie Street in Erie, Pennsylvania. He had five sisters; Minnie, Susie, Kate, Adda and Ida, and three brothers; James, Willie and Frank. Archie enlisted in the Navy on December 28, 1904, he would rise to be a first class Gunners Mate and be assigned to the submarine USS F-4.
He was married on Feb 6, 1915 to 21 year old Mae Marforie (Slater) Lunger and they resided in Honolulu. She was the younger sister of Frances Pierard, wife of his shipmate Frank Pierard. Mae had come to Honolulu at her sisters invitation for a visit and had met Archie and the couple fell in love and married. A daughter was born to Mae on Sept 1, 1915 in Vallejo, Calif., just about the time the F-4's crew filled coffins were being shipped to the mainland for burial, Archie included.
Frank Pierard was born on June 22, 1886 in San Francisco, California. He was married to Frances M (Slater) Pierard and they were the parents of 18 month old twin children. He and Frances had been married 5 years previous in San Francisco, Calif. She had moved out to Honolulu with their infant twins when the F-4 was transferred there. The Pierards had resided at 612 Beretania Street, Honolulu. Now the present site of the Honolulu Board Water Supply building. Frank enlisted in the Navy on June 28, 1901 and was to become a Chief Gunners Mate, he too, would be assigned to the submarine USS F-4.
The F-4 sank with all hands on March 25, 1915 just off Honolulu Harbor on a training mission. Six of the crew were married men and one was engaged. All were well trained and experienced submariners.
The last person to see the F-4 was Ensign Harry Bogusch, the executive officer of the USS F-1. The F-1 was returning to the Navy piers in Honolulu Harbor after she had concluded her morning dives. Bogusch said he was standing on deck and waved his hat at the periscope as the submerged F-4 passed the surfaced F-1 in the channel. The periscope, he said, seemed to be trained on him. Possibly the commanding officer, Alfred Ede, was at the scope. He commented on how well trimmed the F-4 looked. The F-4 had submerged in Honolulu Harbor just off the Quarantine Dock to a depth of 18 feet, periscope depth, and had proceeded out the harbor channel. A common occurrence, it seems, for these early submarines to do.
Lunger and Pierard were twenty eight years old at the time the USS F-4 sank. Both were Gunner's Mates and worked together in the torpedo room of the submarine F-4. Pierard was probably Lunger's leading Petty Officer, (boss). Gunners Mates performed the function of the torpedo man before that rate was created. Both were buried at Arlington National Cemetery. The seventeen unidentified bodies, including Lunger and Pierard, were buried in four caskets in a single grave. Together forever.
It was determined, that part of the cause for the sinking of the F-4, was a corroded lead lining to the battery tank that had caused sulfuric acid to escape the battery and that had caused hull rivets on the port side to become weakened by corrosion. Those leaks allowed salt water into the 'slop tank' around the battery adding additional weight to the submarine that was unknown to the Commanding officer, Alfred Ede. This was Ede's first submarine command. On a previous deep dive it was noted that hull seams leaked and the torpedo tube doors leaked as well due to the high pressures.
The F-4, it had been reported, had also been fitted with experimental propellers just previous to the the fateful voyage and that may have affected the ability of the submarine's stern diving planes to control the sub during the crews recovery efforts. Examination of the F-4 in dry dock revealed that the air valves to the forward, center and after ballast tanks were all open as were the valves to blow all the adjusting tanks. When all had been done that was possible, fifteen members of the crew took refuge in the engine room. It isn't known if that was done spontaneously or under orders. The engine room bulkhead failed due to excessive water pressure and the compartment flooded killing all there.
Several men were found in the control room and were thought to have been the officers, Ede and Ensign Timothy Parker, who was riding as an observer, based on the presence of an officers cap close to the bodies. Others were found in the torpedo room. One body could not be located and was totally missing. Only four could be identified and of those only one was a positive identification.
All the crew's remains had become disarticulated in the months taken to recover the submarine and suffered from the efforts. They had become jumbled together as the submarine had been bounced on the ocean's bottom as salvage cables and chain broke sending the submarine to the sea floor. As it turned out no bodies were complete as remains were lost through openings in the hull. By the time the F-4 reached dry dock she was almost completely upside down.
The F-4 was ultimately floated out of the dry dock using the same pontoons used to salvage her. The submarine F-4 was never to see dry air again. She was towed, hanging from the pontoons, into Pearl Harbor and deposited on the bottom of Magazine Loch, site of the future US Navy Submarine Base, near where the moorings known as Sierra 12 and 13 are now located. During the 1940 build out of the Sub Base the submarine F-4 was rolled into a trench dredged in the loch bottom and covered over. She remains there today.
The widowed sisters returned to San Francisco on the Navy Transport Ship Sheridan and arrived on May 14, 1915 along with the widow of the commanding officer, Mrs Margaret Ede and her two children Arthur and Margaret. As the transport left Honolulu Harbor the ship stopped at the spot where the F-4 had sunk and the widowed women cast flowers into the seas in memory of their lost husbands.
Mrs. Frederick Gilman, another widow of the F-4, returned to her home in Vallejo, Calif. after the loss of her husband.
President Wilson signed an executive order allowing the appointments of Mrs Pierard and Mrs. Gilman, to be seamstresses and flag makers at the Mare Island Navy Yard Sail Lofts without needing to take civil service examinations. This, after Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels had received a letter from Mrs Pierard explaining their plight after the F-4 sinking. He made the recommendation to President Wilson to extend some assistance to the widows.
Mae Lunger is described in some accounts as being an 'Invalid', (how much and by what means is not detailed). She and her daughter were being supported by her sister Frances.
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