The Port Chicago National Memorial commemorates an event of major significance during World War II. On July 17, 1944, a devastating explosion took the lives of 320 persons. It was the largest home-front disaster during World War II. Most of those who died were young African American sailors. Other fatalities included Navy officers, crew members, Navy Armed Guards, civilian workers, as well as Marine and Coast Guard personnel. The explosion destroyed the base and severely damaged the nearby town of Port Chicago, injuring several hundred residents.