The U.S.S. White Plains crew status log for July 1944 indicates Patton as "missing," due to "own misconduct."
If, for the sake of argument, Patton went "missing" in July 1944 (meaning as in AWOL), he would have been listed in U.S. military records as such, not as missing.
Again, for the sake of argument, perhaps Patton (along with his shipmate) failed to get back on the ship and thus were considered "missing" but not AWOL. Consider the following: Per U.S. military law, one can be "missing" and not considered dead or AWOL under certain "misconduct" conditions:
“Any person subject to this chapter who through neglect or design MISSES [emphasis added] the movement of a ship, aircraft, or unit with which he is required in the course of duty to move shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”
"(1) That the accused was required in the course of duty to move with a ship, aircraft or unit;
"(2) That the accused knew of the prospective movement of the ship, aircraft or unit;
"(3) That the accused missed the movement of the ship, aircraft or unit; and
"(4) That the accused missed the movement through design or neglect.
"'Movement' as used in Article 87 includes a move, transfer, or shift of a ship, aircraft, or unit involving a substantial distance and period of time. Whether a particular movement is substantial is a question to be determined by the court-martial considering all the circumstances. Changes which do not constitute a 'movement' include practice marches of a short duration with a return to the point of departure, and minor changes in location of ships, aircraft, or units, as when a ship is shifted from one berth to another in the same shipyard or harbor or when a unit is moved from one barracks to another on the same post."http://usmilitary.about.com/od/punitive ... s/a/87.htm
Putting aside the notion that Patton had missed his boat, perhaps he (along with his missing shipmate) engaged in some unwise personal conduct which got themselves killed.
However, Patton's name does not show up in any official U.S. military records covering World War II as dead, missing or wounded. Regarding American casualties in that conflict, the U.S. Department of the Navy has posted online the military records for "[c]asualties listed represent[ing] only those on active duty in the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, resulting directly from enemy action or from operational activities against the enemy in war zones from December 7, 1941, to the end of the war." It adds that "[c]asualties in the United States area or as a result of disease, homicide, or suicide in any location are not included."
The report describes itself as "a State summary taken from casualty lists released by the Navy Department, corrected as to the most recent casualty status and recorded residence of next of kin."
The official casualty status of Patton (were it to be found anywhere) would therefore be in this Navy document: "[A] State Summary of War Casualties [Utah], U.S. Navy 1946, Compiled July 1946 by Casualty Section, Office of Public Information, Navy Department." If Patton had been killed in the performance of military combat duties, his name would have appeared under "Killed in Action, Died of Wounds, or Lost Lives as Result of Operational Movements in War Zones," alphabetized by name under "P," in "Dead" section, p. 5, at: http://archives.utah.gov/research/guide ... s-utah.pdf
However, Arthur Patton's name does not appear anywhere in this document (including in its section of "Missing in Action or During Operational War Missions."
Adding further mystery to the matter, it seems odd that Patton's mother was reportedly notified (barely one day after Patton was deemed missing on 4 July 1944 ) that he had been killed on 5 July 1944. This appears to be an extraordinarily rapid response to the case of a missing 18-year-old Navy private off the coast of Saipan during a fighting lull for his ship, which headed out of the combat zone on 2 July 1944 for a week at Eniwetok.
It is also worth noting that Patton's mother (at least so the story goes) apparently did not tell Monson how her son was killed. Yet, the Monson story reports Patton as having been "lost at sea," when no official U.S. government military records for World War II are known to substantiate that claim.
Moreover, Monson misstates the facts (once again) in falsely declaring in his 2007 retelling of these alleged events:
"In March 1944, with the war now raging, Arthur was transferred from the USS Dorsey, a destroyer, to the USS White Plains, an aircraft carrier. While at Saipan in the South Pacific, the ship was attacked. Arthur was one of those on board who was lost at sea."http://LDS.org/general-conference/2007/ ... s?lang=eng
For the record, Patton turned up missing in July 1944, not in March 1944, during the U.S.S. White Plain's absence from the combat operations zone from 2 July to 9 July. Again, Patton was officially classified as missing on 4 July. Patton therefore could not have been "lost at sea" while onboard a ship that was not under enemy attack during the time he was noted on his ship's crew list as being "missing" due to his "own misconduct."
Of course, it does not make for a faith-promoting story told before a General Conference audience to declare that Patton ended up missing due to his personal misconduct. "Lost at sea" sounds much more gallant.
It also sounds fishy.