William Floyd Paschal was born in Rayle, Georgia, the son of John W. and Rosa L. Paschal
-Siblings: Lula Paschal, John W. Paschal, Mary A. Paschal, Elmer Paschal, and Eloisa Paschal
Died non Battle 17 July 1944 in the Port Chicago ammunition depot explosion.

He is memorialzed at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial at Concord, Contra Costa County, California

An ammunition ship explodes while being loaded in Port Chicago, California, killing 320 people on July 17, 1944. The United States’ World War II military campaign in the Pacific was in full swing at the time. Poor procedures and lack of training led to the disaster.

Port Chicago, about 30 miles north of San Francisco, was developed into a munitions facility when the Naval Ammunition Depot at Mare Island, California, could not fully supply the war effort. By the summer of 1944, expansion of the Port Chicago facility allowed for loading two ships at once around the clock. The Navy units assigned to the dangerous loading operations were generally segregated African American units. For the most part, these men had not been trained in handling munitions. Additionally, safety standards were forgotten in the rush to keep up frenetic loading schedules.

On the evening of July 17, the SS Quinault Victory and SS E.A. Bryan, two merchant ships, were being loaded. The holds were being packed with 4,600 tons of explosives—bombs, depth charges and ammunition. Another 400 tons of explosives were nearby on rail cars. Approximately 320 workers were on or near the pier when, at 10:18 p.m., a series of massive explosions over several seconds destroyed everything and everyone in the vicinity.

The Knoxville News-Sentinel, July 20, 1944
William Floyd Paschal, 19, seaman first class, husband of Mrs. Marylyn Paschal, 816 East Church Avenue, is missing and presumably dead since the explosion of the two huge ammunition ships at Port Chicago in upper San Francisco Bay Monday, according to a Navy Department telegram recieved by his wife last night. Seaman Paschal, who had been stationed at Port Chicago, since the latter part of May, is the first casualty of the disaster from this section to be reported.
His parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Paschal, live at 808 Pierce Avenue. He had planned to come home on leave next month to visit his wife and parents and a year old daughter, Edna Rose Paschal, whom he had not seen since she was six weeks old.

  • Rank: Seaman First Class
  • Date of birth:
  • 11 November 1924
  • Date of death: 17 July 1944
  • County: Knox
  • Hometown: Knoxville
  • Service Branch: Navy
  • Conflict: World War II
  • Burial/Memorial Location: Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial, Concord, Contra Costa County, California
  • Location In Memorial: Pillar XIV, Middle Panel
  • Contact us to sponsor William F. Paschal

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