People

Burt Asper

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Burt Jacob Asper was born in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania in 1888 and graduated from the University of Maryland at the top of his class. 


He was a great outfielder at Sheppard-Pratt Hospital, but moved on from there to Springfield, where he served as an assistant physician and pathologist. He taught at the nursing school and married a young Baltimore woman in October of 1917. 


Unfortunately for the new couple, the US had declared war on Germany back in April, and soon Asper enlisted into the United States Navy. He was assigned as a First Lieutenant and Assistant Surgeon to the USS Cyclops, one of the largest fuel ships in the world and responsible for carrying coal to other ships. 


It spent most of its time on the East coast and left from there, in mid February of 1918, for Brazil to fuel British ships. Next the Cyclops delivered some manganese from Rio de Janeiro. It stopped at Salvador, then left for Baltimore. It was February 20, 1918. 


The ship was overloaded. There were problems with the engines, and they stopped in Barbados for repairs and took on even more coal and water. On March 4, still with their engine problems, which they could not fix, they left once more for Baltimore. 


They vanished soon after with 309 passengers and not a trace, most likely in the Bermuda triangle. To this day, no one knows where or why the ship disappeared. After 100 days of searching, the navy gave up. Asper and all the other were declared dead, which made him the first from Chambersburg to die in the war.