Remembering Bill Tesser, who died aboard the submarine USS Albacore during WWII

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It’s been nearly 80 years since a sailor from Duluth went down with his submarine, the USS Albacore. And now, that submarine has been identified off the coast of Japan.

This is welcome news for Ralph Tesser, the last of six Tesser boys who served in the U.S. Navy. He lives in Grand Portage.

His brother, Bill, the second oldest, signed up right after Pearl Harbor.

Ralph was only a baby then. But he remembers some of what his mother would tell him. “Bill was always athletic in school, and was a good kid. Family oriented,” he recalled. “He wanted to farm after the war.”

Bill was tall, 6 foot 3, and ended up serving on the Albacore.

According to the military, the submarine was responsible for sinking at least 10 Japanese ships.

She went missing on November 7, 1944. And all 80+ crew members aboard were then missing in action.

Ralph remembers being a little boy, and seeing a vehicle drive up the drive way.

“It was an admiral, there to tell my mother that her son was missing in action,” he said.

Their mother never got over Bill’s loss.

She and Ralph were in a parade after the end of WWII. They rode in a vehicle with Albert Woolson, the last surviving soldier from the Civil War.

Fast forward to now, Woolson, Ralph’s parents, and his other brothers are all gone. But Ralph is thrilled to have heard the news about the Albacore.

A researcher from the University of Tokyo was able to use equipment to help the military identify the Albacore. The official confirmation came on February 16th.

According to the Naval History and Heritage Command, the site is considered a war grave and is protected under the Sunken Military Craft Act.

Ralph just wants people to recognize his brother’s sacrifice. “I wish every one of the guy’s names could be put up in lights.”

The discovery of the Albacore means closure for the family. “At least his spirit is back with us. You know, he’s home with me now, in my heart.”

He hopes to someday connect with other survivors of those lost on the Albacore.

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