October 14, 1943
Thirty-seven Red Cross workers, along with American troops, boarded a Liberty ship bound for Oran, Algiers in North Africa. Their mission: provide services to troops in the China-Burma-India theater of the war.
After disembarking from their ship and spending a week in Oran, the thirty-seven were divided into several groups and subsequently loaded onto different ships that would be added to Convoy KMF26, when it would soon arrive from Scotland, before setting course to India. The men would eventually serve in the C. B. I. operation. Seven of these workers were loaded aboard the HMT ROHNA. Little could they imagine what lay before them in the coming days. Nothing in their earlier training could possibly have prepared them for the indescribable experience that lay awaiting them.
Before that disaster was concluded, three of those seven Red Cross men perished: Valmer J. Goltry Harold Reckseen Simon Zebrach.
The other men: Jeff Sparks, Aaron Weinstein, Nels Quam and Jack Harrigan survived the ordeal. Upon being rescued and brought back to terra firma again Harrigan, due to injuries incurred in the incident, returned to the USA while the others eventually made their way (haphazardly) to their ultimate destination of India. Later, Sparks and Weinstein related their experiences to Adrienne Moore, Public Relations Department of the American Red Cross who in turn wrote a startling account of their experiences. Meanwhile Quam wrote his experience in a letter to his son, (which has been made available to us) detailing his memories of the experience.
All accounts were gripping, compelling and touching. To view the accounts of these heroic Red Cross workers, please click on the links below.
This page is dedicated to the memory of Valmer J. Goltry, Harold Reckseen and Simon Zebrach who perished in the Rohna Disaster of November 26, 1943, and to survivors Aaron Weinstein, Jeff Sparks, Jack Harrigan and Nels Quam.