Thomas C. Latimore

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Thomas C. Latimore
USS Dobbin (AD-3) in the 1940s.jpg
Commander Thomas C Latimore's ship the USS Dobbin at sea, c.1941.
Governor of American Samoa
In office
April 10, 1934 – April 17, 1934
Preceded by George Landenberger
Succeeded by Otto Dowling
Personal details
Died Oahu, Hawaii, U.S.
Profession Naval officer
Military service
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy Seal United States Navy
Years of service 1910 - 1941
Rank commander
Battles/wars World War I

Commander Thomas Calloway Latimore was an American naval officer who was captain of the USS Dobbin, and the 24th (22nd unique) Governor of American Samoa. His disappearance in Hawaii, just months before the 7 December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, remains an unsolved mystery.

Naval career[edit]

Thomas Latimore was born in Tennessee on June 28, 1890 and entered the United States Naval Academy in 1910. He graduated and was commissioned an ensign in 1914. He was promoted to lieutenant (junior grade) in 1917.[1] He served as acting Governor of American Samoa from April 10 to April 17, 1934.[2] After a brief time at Naval Intelligence in Washington, D.C., Latimore, despite being a commander, was given the command of the USS Dobbin in April 1941; a destroyer tender at Pearl Harbor.


Soon after his arrival on Oahu in April 1941, Latimore, who was described as a quiet, solitary man, began to enjoy hiking in the undeveloped Aiea Mountain Range that overlooked Pearl Harbor (at 21°23′09″N 157°55′51″W / 21.3859°N 157.930927°W / 21.3859; -157.930927 (Thomas C. Latimore last seen (Aiea Mountain Range))). But soon afterwards a Yeoman second class named Kenneth Isaacs on the Dobbin recalled that Latimore "came back to the ship, and he had an arm wound which he said he hurt in a fall. For a while he had an arm in a cast."[3]

By July 1941, the arm had healed and the cast had been removed. Latimore was last seen heading into the Aiea Mountain wearing his khaki uniform, an old hat and a walking stick.

When he failed to return hundreds of sailors and local police scoured the Aiea Mountains looking for him.[3][4] Trackers with dogs were brought in from Schofield Barracks but no trace of Latimore was ever found. A Naval investigation into his disappearance was launched in 1941.[5] His disappearance was never explained and was the subject of much local news coverage and rumor before being overshadowed by the Pearl Harbor attack.

On 19 July 1942 he was officially declared dead.[2]

U.S. Naval rumors[edit]

  • Within the Navy, many believed he might have been abducted and killed by a local Hawaiian Japanese spy ring because he had either stumbled upon their activities in the hills or had been specifically targeted because of his Intelligence background.[3]
  • Another popular naval conspiracy theory involved United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who many believed (Source Needed) allowed the attack on Pearl Harbor to happen in order to galvanize the American public into war. Latimore had forewarning of the attack from his Naval Intelligence contacts and decided to disappear before the Japanese strike.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Brigadier rank for 18 colonels". The New York Times. June 9, 1917. Retrieved February 5, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Sorensen, Stan; Joseph Theroux (2007). "The Samoan Historical Calendar, 1606-2007" (PDF). Government of American Samoa. pp. 16; 84. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 25, 2009. Retrieved 22 February 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d Robert S. La Forte and Ronald E. Marcello (1992). "Maps". Remembering Pearl Harbor: Eyewitness Accounts by U.S. Military Men and Women (Paperback). New York: Ballantine Books. p. 314. ISBN 0345373804 ISBN 978-0-345-37380-9. 
  4. ^ "Missing Commander Hunted by Sailors". Los Angeles Times. July 21, 1941. p. 8. 
  5. ^ "Navy to Probe Officer's Disappearance in Hawaii". Chicago Daily Tribune. Chicago, Ill. July 27, 1941. p. 10.