CONCORD, Calif. (KGO) -- Saturday will mark the 73rd anniversary of one of the deadliest accidents in the Pacific during World War II. It was an incident that the Navy covered up for 18 years.
ABC7 News spoke to a Concord man who survived what some historians call the second Pearl Harbor.
"It never really occurred to me that I could've gotten killed," said 91-year-old Rod Plaisted.
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Plaisted was an 18-year-old sailor in May of 1944, stationed at Pearl Harbor's West Loch area, three years after the Japanese attack.
Plaisted was one of many men moving bullets and bombs amid hundreds of ships getting ready for the invasion of Saipan when he looked up and saw flames on one ship, then a huge explosion launched tons of metal into the air.
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"I looked at it thinking, wow, that is really something to see. That's something to remember, then it occurred to me what goes up comes down," said Plaisted.
That's when he made a run for it dodging white hot debris the entire way.
"Finally stuff was starting to hit and I went down and curled up like that." Said Plaisted, while imitating a fetal position.
Once Plaisted finally got up he ran to a bomb shelter, just in time to see a fellow sailor killed by white hot metal.
The fires burned for 24 hours. Six ships blew up, at least 163 Sailors and Marines died in the blasts or while fighting the fires.
Ironically just weeks after rod survived The West Loch incident, something similar happened near his hometown of Pittsburg, when two ammunition ships blew up at the port Chicago naval weapons station.
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The Navy kept the incident classified until 1962. Plaisted didn't even know how many men died until a few years ago.
But, he's lived his life to the fullest; he was married for 71 years, and then went on to be a 28 year veteran of the Highway Patrol. Now he is a retiree who loves operating his own homebuilt train.
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World War II survivor from Concord speaks about West Loch explosion