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USS Maine (ACR 1) explosion marks 125th anniversary

In 1898, the USS Maine (ACR 1) exploded in Havana Harbor. While it was likely due to an accident on board, the sudden tragedy and its uncertain origins provided fuel for some influential Americans who wanted to instigate a war against Spain. That war would lead to the independence of Cuba and the U.S. acquiring Guam, Puerto Rico and the Philippine Islands.

Of the 355 men on board, 266 died. One of the 16 injured Sailors who survived was Coal Passer Charles, August Lohman.

Born Claes Lohman on October 5, 1874, in Tierp, Sweden, he immigrated to the U.S. on August 9, 1894, with his brother Gustav Theodor. He was of average height with brown hair and grey eyes.

He joined the Navy in 1896 and served on board Maine when it exploded on February 15, 1898.

Injured by the blast, he and about 20 other Sailors were evacuated ashore in Havana, while others were sent to Key West, Florida.
After Lohman returned to duty, he served on the USS Detroit (C 10) and the USS Vermont (BB 20).

Discharged on August 10, 1899, he would become a citizen on May 2, 1900, living most of his civilian life in Brooklyn.

He visited Sweden in 1900, returning on November 7 in Boston aboard the SS Ivernia.

Lohman Married fellow Swedish immigrant Signe “Sophia” E. Johnson. They had two daughters and a son – Edith, Harry and Anna.
Listed as being a gas fitter and a mechanic in other documents, his obituary states he was an engineer. Lohman died at the Bronx VA Hospital on April 22, 1935.

Coal Passer Charles A Lohman is interred at the Cypress Hills National Cemetery. He was 60 years old.

In addition to gravesites, there are memorials to the U.S.S. Maine at the southwest entrance to Central Park in New York City. The monument includes the main mast from the ship at Arlington National Cemetery.

The Key West cemetery, where many of the victims are interred, also includes a memorial obelisk. The memorial at the Naval Academy consists of the foremast of the U.S.S. Maine, still damaged.

In addition, there are more than 30 Spanish American War memorials thought the country, one of the largest just outside Los Angeles National Cemetery at Veteran Ave. and Wilshire Blvd.

Gabriel Peters

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