Real Name: Frank Joseph Bloomer
Case: Lost Loved One
Location: Salerno, Italy
Date: September 11, 1943
Details: Frank Joseph "Frankie" Bloomer of Ziegler, Illinois, was a Navy seaman during World War II. He served as a radio technician aboard the USS Rowan, a destroyer operating in the Mediterranean Sea. On September 11, 1943, the USS Rowan was sailing off the coast of Italy when it was hit by a torpedo from a German U-boat. The ship sank in less than a minute and 202 American soldiers were killed. Since his body was not found, Frankie was considered missing.
Less than a week later, Frankie's mother Jane saw a photo of three of the ship's survivors. She believed that the man in the middle of the photo was her son. She contacted Frankie's brother's wife Dorothy, and the two compared photographs of him to the newspaper photo. They were convinced that the survivor was Frankie based on several facial characteristics. Jane later took the photo to a mortician who analyzed photographs, he determined that the man was most likely Frankie. Jane contacted the Red Cross in hopes of finding out where Frankie might be. They told her to contact the war department; however, they could find no more information about his possible whereabouts. Sadly, she passed away in 1971, but she never gave up hope that he was alive somewhere. After her grandmother's death, Frankie's niece Janie began to search for him. As a child, she remembered seeing his photograph at her grandmother's house. When she asked about him, she was told that he was gone, but would come back someday. She also recalls her grandmother baking a cake for his birthday, and them celebrating it even though he wasn't there.
In 1979, a gravestone was made for Frankie; of course, he is not buried there. Janie hopes to find answers to the questions that haunted her grandparents their entire lives. Alive or dead, she hopes that her uncle Frankie can be found.
Extra Notes: This segment was featured as part of the January 30, 1991 episode.
Results: Solved. After the story aired, one of the other USS Rowan survivors, Wayne Easterling, revealed that the man in the middle of the photo was not Frankie Bloomer. The man was actually sailor Richard Hennessy, who died in 1974. The Bloomers, along with the Navy, now accept that Frankie died during the attack on USS Rowan. Although this is not the news that the Bloomer family had hoped for, they are glad that they have a resolution to their search.