54 years ago today a fire broke out in one of the operational buildings, killing twelve United States military personnel.

Most of the deaths occurred because the men were unable to escape through a locked exit and were overcome by the smoke.

Although the official investigation listed faulty electrical circuitry as the cause of the fire, some eyewitness accounts attributed it to failure in a recently-installed incinerator, used for destruction of classified material, which had been improperly vented through the wall and subsequently caused the wall to ignite.

Below are the names of the 12 men who lost their life during the tunnel fire:

CTSA Roger “W” Alex
CTSA William E. Briley
CTSN Wilford D. Cordell
CTSN Dennis e. Etzwieler
CT3 Archie R. Garofalo
CTSA John D. House
LCPL Richard E. McKown
LTjg Ernest D. Moody
SGT Paul C. Rodrigues
CT3 Wayne E. Tower
CTSN James K. Whitman
CT3 Gregory S. Williams

Sayonara is not goodbye, but the promise of meeting again.